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Tecumseh: A Life

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  144 ratings  ·  16 reviews
If Sitting Bull is the most famous Indian, Tecumseh is the most revered. He does not stand for one tribe or nation, but for all Native Americans. He remains the ultimate symbol of endeavor and courage. Over thirty years in the writing, this is the first authoritative biography of the principal organizer and driving force of Native American confederacy. For anyone studying ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published April 15th 1999 by Holt Paperbacks (first published April 15th 1985)
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An excellent well-researched biography of one of the most interesting characters in American history. More than a biography, Sugden’s book is also a tale of how the British, the Indians, and the Americans struggled for power in the Old Northwest.

Sugden does a great job documenting Tecumseh’s life and putting it in the context of the Indian-white struggle for power in the Old Northwest. The meat of the book is Tecumseh’s dream of an Indian confederacy to resist white expansion into that territory
For me, Tecumseh was always one of those tragic "noble savages" who was turned into a one-dimensional mythological character down through the years. Like many Indian leaders, he was venerated only after he was dead and thereby no longer a threat to the "Manifest Destiny" of America. Sugden goes a long way towards humanizing Tecumseh, without engaging in apotheosis or character sniping. Still, he comes off as a larger-than-life figure. Can you imagine anyone today taking on the combined roles of ...more
This book has more background and personally history of Tecumseh than the book I read about Tecumseh and Brock. A very interesting and detailed account of his life. A worthwhile and recommended read for anyone interested in Canadian history, U.S history and the history of the aboriginal peoples. It is a pity from all the accurate and comprehensive studies on Tecumseh that he is not more widely recognised for his contributions to history whether it was the one war of 1812 or the other war for the ...more
John Sugden's biography of the great Shawnee chief Tecumseh is an authoritative investigation of his life and legend. Sugden investigates the legend and highlights what he understands to be the facts, based on painful investigation of the known sources relating to Tecumseh. This he successfully does, while providing the reader with an understanding of Tecumseh the man, alongside Tecumseh and his mission.

For me the book also provides an insight into the machinations of early American government,
Excellent biography and history of the lower Great Lakes / Old Northwest region of the period leading up to the War of 1812 -- one of the most fascinating in North American history, before either Canada or the United States were fully defined and the tribes of the Old Northwest, particularly as they became united under Tecumseh, exerted real political and military power. A great contribution to the literature of native resistance.
Frank Fischer
Author John Sugden presented a very thorough well researched document that at times could be a little dense and dry. The content was very intriguing. I want to read more about Tecumseh and the War of 1812.
I hated this one. It was dry, and heavy, and Sugden would present a bunch of stuff as fact, only to later tell you that it was conjecture. Let's waste our readers' time, shall we?

So that ticked me off. Really, just the whole tone of the thing ticked me off. Who does Sugden think he is? He wasn't at all objective, and seems to think his opinions are law. I always find that distasteful to read, even when I agree with the person, and I didn't agree with him most of the time.
Interesting subject matter, but Sugden's prose is tedious and makes this one very hard to get through. My interest waned as I worked through it because of this, even though I am very interested in this period and the subject. Maybe it's the difficulty of writing a biography of a figure with a largely undocumented life that is the problem (?). I was thinking about picking up his volumes on Nelson, but I'm not sure if I can make it through if the writing is the same as in this book.
This is a very long book, or at least it seemed so to me. I learned a good deal about the period of American and Canadian history spanned by the Shawnee leader's life, but I found Sugden's prose to be less than lively and the book more full of detail than a non-historian like me really wanted to wade through. Not my cup of broth, but I respect the scholarship and the subject.
One of the most factual accounts of the life of Tecumseh that I've come across. Told with quite a bit of information from Canadian sources, which gives an entirely different viewpoint than the American versions. One friend I lent the book to came back with an entirely new opinion of William Henry Harrison.
Tony Laplume
Thoroughly comprehensive in a general kind of way, Sugden immerses his reader in Tecumseh's life and times, synthesizing the historical record without really getting to the heart of it in a dispassionate or piercing way. But maybe that's as good as it's going to get.
Sep 11, 2008 geekboy42 rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one else really.
I gave up on this book after 8 chapters. The writing just didn't seem to have a flow, and that quality is not good for a biography of a critical figure in late 1700 - early 1800's North America.
I liked this book. It was a pretty easy read and I learned some interesting things. It is fascinating that the author is British.
Alan Jacobs
He is an American hero, and even more, a Canadian hero. A moving account of his life.
Feb 13, 2013 Peter added it
Good bio & excellent overview of 19th century "NW" USA
One of my childhood heros.
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