Currently reading

Paul Hanley
A Month in the Country
Michael Holroyd, J.L. Carr
A Tale of the Dispossessed: A Novel
Laura Restrepo, Dolores M. Koch
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Jeffrey Smith, Russell Hill
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Island of a Thousand Mirrors
Nayomi Munaweera

Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab

Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab - Steve Inskeep I got a copy of this through First to Read.

At the beginning, this felt like a side-by-side summary of Ross' and Jackson's lives. Each had a perfunctory chapter towards the beginning to get at their background and what drove their characters. And there was a great deal of discussion of real estate that I didn't catch, not understanding the boundaries that were clearly described but not drawn out. But then after the first 100 pages, the book developed and blossomed into a true biography of an idea -- the baffling democratic (or not-so-democratic) process by which the Trail of Tears came about. It's a model of historical context. Instead of going out of his way to describe small details from the ain player's lives, he describes the social and cultural situation at the time. He introduces us to the characters involved, including the minor ones. What role did the early women's movement play? How was this related to slavery and states' rights and the build up to the Civil War? So this isn't really the story of two men, although they form a nice scaffolding for the story. It's the story of a removal of a people from their homes, an event that was controversial even in its time, and one that split political parties and individuals' consciences. I didn't necessarily expect to learn much that was new to me, but I did pick up a greater understanding of the competing interests surrounding the issue at the time. And, as expected, it was very well written, so the story came through clearly.