Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860
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Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860

4.4 of 5 stars 4.40  ·  rating details  ·  94 ratings  ·  13 reviews
In Regeneration Through Violence, the first of his trilogy on the mythology of the American West, Richard Slotkin shows how the attitudes and traditions that shape American culture evolved from the social and psychological anxieties of European settlers struggling in a strange new world to claim the land and displace the Native Americans. Using the popular literature of th...more
Paperback, 670 pages
Published April 15th 2000 by University of Oklahoma Press (first published February 1st 1973)
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Generally, I never read the same book twice. Even if I loved the book. There are too many unread classics out in the world, and I am a slow reader.

But I made an exception for Richard Slotkin’s Regeneration Through Violence. Not because I loved it, however. Not at all. Quite the opposite. This was a tough slog. The first time through, my mind kept wandering away like a toddler chasing bubbles. (As I write this, I am distracting my toddler by blowing bubbles). By the time I finished, it occurred...more
James Murphy
Regeneration Through Violence is an in-depth study of the ways in which the literature of the American frontier created and supported mythologies arisig out of the westward movement from the earliest colonies till the 1850s. His study traces the significant ways American myth has changed as popular responses to the frontier have changed. The earliest Puritan settlers saw the wilderness before them as a vision of hell populated by demonic Indians and transmitted their message by way of the sermon...more
Ayne Ray
This was a pivotal book in my academic development and a cornerstone of research for my Master’s thesis on the mythology of the American West in the works of Sam Shepard. By reinventing the narrative of the Western experience, Slotkin deconstructs Western mythology to purport that the decimation of Native Americans, an unerring belief in the supremacy of white European immigrants, and the greed-filled exploitation of the environment is what truly fueled Westward expansion. An unflinching examina...more

Another of my standard references. By turns daunting and compelling. Occasionally overwrought, sometimes poetic, and always brutal, but the grand approach and language suit the subject and make for a read almost as exhilarating as Slotkin's scholarship is exhaustive. Through American literature, Slotkin gets at the heart and soul and blood and bone of American history as few straight histories do.

An excerpt:

"Our heroes and their narratives are an index to our character and conception of our rol...more
May 29, 2010 Shaun added it
This is proving to be a rather trying book to plow through. Maybe my attention span for books is waning? Or I expect too much, a solid journey inside every cover I pick up? Sometimes this book is damn captivating, and the other half of the time I'm delving through repetitious meanderings and wondering if Slotkin could have said just as much with half the paper.

Primarily this is a study of the tension between the Puritan settlers and the native people they had to figure out how to live with when...more
Unbelievably brilliant. Love it or hate it, and despite the occasional wtf moment, this book will permanently alter the way you look at American literature and American history.
Very informative and explains a great deal about the types of stories that are still current in American literature and myth. I particularly found the discussion of the Daniel Boone mythos and Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales to be intriguing. Slotkin also explains the relationship of captivity narratives and hunter-hero /frontier hero tales in American mythos and discusses the complex relationship and dynamic of the Puritan experience to the wilderness in both the exorcism/ purification response...more
Slotkin is a really careful historian and does a fantastic job presenting and interpreting patterns in the primary sources. My favorite chapter was his presentation of how captivity narratives evolved as a genre to absolve Puritans of both their symbolic violence towards their English heritage and their actual violence towards natives. His prose is often pretty dry and the pace felt slow to me as I read this book. Whatever the shortcomings of the words on the page, his overall concept remains re...more
Myth Girl
Apr 29, 2012 Myth Girl marked it as to-read
Shelves: mythology
My Native American professor recommended this source for my research project. My plan was to skim through and find the elements relevant to my work. Imagine my surprise when I discovered what a rich text this is! It goes far beyond the basic discussion of Native American history and mythology and delves into a discussion of psychology, archetypes, hero patterns, Joseph Campbell, and so much more. I checked the book out from the library, but within an hour of exploring it ordered a copy for mysel...more
Just an amazing book. It can be academic and dense at points, and sometimes Slotkin has a tendency to beat points to death. But the wealth of information and breadth of vision more than make up for the shortcomings. I don't think there's a better book on the American frontier; certainly I haven't read one.
Jun 07, 2008 Chris marked it as to-read
Where Joss Whedon navigated some of the rules for Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Tom Smucker
Oct 26, 2011 Tom Smucker rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tom by: My son
Mind-bogglingly great so far.
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Richard Slotkin (1942-) is a cultural critic, historian, and novelist
More about Richard Slotkin...
The Long Road to Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolution Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America Abe: A Novel of the Young Lincoln The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800-1890 No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864

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