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The Invasion Within: The Contest of Cultures in Colonial North America
by James Axtell
Colonial North America was not only a battleground for furs and land, but also for allegiances and even souls. In the three-sided struggle for empire, the English and French colonists were locked in heated competition for native allies and religious converts. Axtell sharply contrasts the English efforts to civilize the Indians with the French willingness to accept native l ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 27th 1986 by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published October 3rd 1985)
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Although Axtell can get a little wordy at times I greatly enjoyed the book! Most assume that the French and English came over and rapidly conquered the Native people, but that is not really the case. By nature, the Indians were an adaptive people who always changed with their environment so when the colonist came, the Natives found ways to adapt. Funnily enough, the Natives were actually better at winning people over to their way of life than the colonist were!
James Axtell claims to have taken twelve years to write this book. He began with the idea of the New England colonists’ education at the hands of their Indian neighbors and expanded this thesis to incorporate the competing cultures of not only the Indian, but the French and English as well. According to the author, this survey of the social and cultural interactions between these three groups is best accomplished by ethnohistory which he claims is “an imaginative but disciplined blend of anthrop ...more
Excellent explication of the clash & resulting conflict of cultures in early North American history between the Native Americans, English, and French. Includes some exceptions, especially examples of missionaries who tried to a certain extent to reconcile and accommodate themselves within the Native American world, usually to no avail. Reminds me of the excellent film on the same subject, "Black Robe."