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The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story (Pivotal Moments in American History)

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  279 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
This volume in Oxford's acclaimed Pivotal Moments series offers an unforgettable portrait of the Nez Perce War of 1877, the last great Indian conflict in American history. It was, as Elliott West shows, a tale of courage and ingenuity, of desperate struggle and shattered hope, of short-sighted government action and a doomed flight to freedom. To tell the story, West begins ...more
Hardcover, 397 pages
Published April 21st 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published March 18th 2009)
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Lizzy
Feb 05, 2010 Lizzy added it
This review was written by Judy Austin and posted by Lizzy Mottern.

Elliott West is a professor of history at the University of Arkansas and the preeminent social historian of the American West. He is also a graceful writer whose prose is accessible to professional historians and amateur lovers of history alike.

West’s most recent book is The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story, a volume in Oxford’s “Pivotal Moments in American History” series. The book is about far more than just the so-called N
...more
Chris
Mar 16, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: us-19th-century
I read West's great *Contested Plains* awhile back and came to appreciate his gift for written expression. He is a brilliant narrator. Also heard him speak at a conference in October of 1998. When I heard he was working on the Nez Perce wars I knew I had to get it.

Most important about this book is that West elaborates upon the claim he asserted in his brilliant piece "Reconstructing Race" (Western Historical Quarterly 34 (Spring 2003): 1-14. He articulates it more precisely in his preface to *
...more
Richard Jr.
Mar 26, 2013 Richard Jr. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Here is a long but very well researched look at the whole concept of the Nez Perce War: giving and overview of first contacts with whites, congenial relations, willingness to work to solve problems followed by a gradual betrayal by the US government and their officials to the point where a peaceful people are literally driven into a war.

Spend a good week or so reading this book. Take it slowly, get out a map and follow the campaign, check out the sizes of the reservations and the way land was l
...more
Leigh Statham
Nov 20, 2014 Leigh Statham rated it liked it
Excellent information, but I must be seriously spoiled by fiction. The writing style felt halting and tedious to me. A must read for those interested in Native American history, but be prepared to focus. (I'm never prepared to focus. Ha!)
Karen
Oct 27, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing
Readable history is my favorite. This book is that. During the 1870's, Reconstruction was ending in the South and the West was being "tamed." The Nez Perce saga, with the famous Chief Joesph, was part of that taming.

Settlement was the enemy of the American Indian, and the Nez Perce particularly. The Federal Government could not have protected the Reservation lines just as they were unable to protect the newly freed enslaved people of the South.

This book weaves together these two places nicely, a
...more
Ann
Mar 15, 2015 Ann rated it really liked it
This is a thoroughly-researched book by a prominent historian. However, you know the ending: The Indians lose. I have always had an interest in the Nez Perce, as I lived in that part of the country until age 13, in Umatilla, Oregon and Walla Walla, Washington.. Many of the places named were familiar to me (though grossly mispronounced in the audio version). I had even heard of that notable chief of the Walla Wallas, Peu Peu Mox Mox (yes, really!). I was interested to learn the backstory of the M ...more
Laurie
Jan 16, 2013 Laurie marked it as to-read
just put this on our shelves at my little used bookstore. read 2 good and useful reviews ...so now will purchase and read.
Christopher
Mar 30, 2011 Christopher rated it really liked it
Well written. West does a great job looking at "peripheral" history and making it not so.
Caitlin
Apr 21, 2014 Caitlin rated it really liked it
I read this in an introductory American History course at university. The textbook for our course did not provide a lot of information on Native American history, so this complemented it well. It is well-researched and well-written--it flows like a novel but provides highly detailed information about the Nez Perce War (1877). At times I did feel as though it dragged on a bit--I find this can happen when given so much detail--but it kept me engaged and interested. If you are like me, and do not k ...more
Richard Ellis
Jun 05, 2012 Richard Ellis rated it really liked it
very in depth and well researched,very good !
Gary Brecht
Jan 12, 2010 Gary Brecht rated it liked it
The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story by Elliott West

Normally I shy away from non-fiction dealing with the imminent demise of various endangered species, or books about the mistreatment of other human beings, but since I consider myself a student of the myth of the American West I decided to read this one.

Elliott West has obviously researched his subject quite thoroughly. What makes this book exceptional is his suggestion that historians have failed to see the conquering of Native Americans
...more
Andy Miller
Nov 26, 2012 Andy Miller rated it it was amazing
An excellent history of the Nez Perce from before Lewis and Clark to the post war efforts by some to return to their homeland. You cannot read, or write, this story without acknowledging the dishonest behavior of our government before the war and the betrayal of our word after the war. But the book is much more than that, the book's nuance is what makes it such a great read. The book shows the repeated betrayals that sparked the war but also writes sympathetically of the first deaths of the war, ...more
Al Gritten
"From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever." -- Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce First Nation. This is a very in-depth look at the Nez Perces and their struggle to integrate with the migration west of the white culture. This is a great history of the development of the northern High Plains and mountain regions of the west where the Nez Perces made their home, but it is not for the casual reader. West does a masterful job of telling the Nez Perce story, but this book is much closer ...more
Brian
Aug 05, 2012 Brian rated it it was amazing
The Last Indian War focuses on the Nez Perce Indian tribe giving a wide ranging view on how radicals from this tribe fought the US Army on a harrowing chase across rural America to be the last holdout of the hostile Indian that is popularized and remembered today only in film. Elliott West does an excellent job putting the Nez Perce in context from their time trading with the Crops of Discovery under Lewis and Clark to the establishment of frontier forts. The Nez Perce traded freely with the Ame ...more
Joshua
Aug 09, 2012 Joshua rated it really liked it


"War is made for taking something not your own" or so we are told by a Nez Perce Indian named Yellow Wolf. This story certainly affirms that Yellow Wolf hit the nail on the head when it came to the manner in which Washington dealt with Native Americans. It is no secret to any student of history that the white man's dealings with Indians has been nothing more than a trail of abuses, neglect, and broken promises. In one sense, the telling of Elliot West's story is not unique and could be applied
...more
Nina Usherwood
Sep 16, 2012 Nina Usherwood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I will give a review later this week but it a very powerful. It impacted me in the same way as The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival in the High Arctic.

Bed time now


Well a I promised a review of this book so here it is. I highly enjoyed reading this book. I was a very interesting book that does not get bogged down in detail despite the amount of information covered. There is definite narrative that is easy to follow. The style I found pleasure able to read.

In some way this is like
...more
Clif
Sep 23, 2009 Clif rated it liked it
Any good history will debunk legends. This one reveals that Chief Joseph, as admired and feted as he was by white Americans after his people had been sent to a reservation, was hardly a factor in the Nez Perce war. Far from leading his people with daring and audacious maneuvers, he was never a leader in combat nor did he make the decisions on where to go and what to do during the war. Even his famous remark, "I will fight no more forever" seems likely to have been put in his mouth by others. Thi ...more
Kurt
Dec 22, 2009 Kurt rated it it was amazing
In one of my college courses more than 25 years ago, the professor told his class that everyone should know a little about nearly everything and nearly everything about one thing. I kind of took that advice to heart. I have tried to learn about as many different subjects as possible, and while doing so I discovered the subject that I wanted to become an expert about. The subject was the history of native Americans as their cultures clashed with the encroaching white culture. Later I narrowed the ...more
Sue
Sep 02, 2013 Sue rated it it was amazing
I was interested in reading this after a vacation where we visited some Nez Perce sites and it did not disappoint. It was a well-researched, well-written account of the flight of the Nez Perces and their eventual surrender and exile. The author sets the flight in the larger context of western America and then the entire continent. He puts it inside the Greater Reconstruction period where the United States government freed African-Americans and helped them become a part of society and then subjug ...more
Jennifer
May 29, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it
A very thorough review of the facts! I had just finished a book about the Nez Perce War of historical fiction. This was the same war, but just the facts. The author did an excellent job of compiling sources and presenting what I believe is the true story of the soldiers and Indians from both points of view and facts from both sides. How truly interesting to hear "the rest of the story" as to what happened to those involved. This book is for the historian readers. It can be a bit dry at times, bu ...more
Sharman Wilson
West does a very good job of juxtaposing a particular and largely forgotten human story against the sweeping historical drama of e pluribus unum--the uniting of diverse states, territories, wildernesses, and peoples into one nation. The Nez Perce Indians just wanted to be left alone to live the life they loved in the place where their ancestors were buried. What the leaders of the white men expected of them made absolutely no sense to the Indians and vice versa. The great irony was that the forc ...more
Fredrick Danysh
In 1877 the Nez Perce Indians were trying to flee to Canada from Southern Idaho following conflict with the US Army.. This book tells the tale of there 1500 mile struggle as they evade at least two American armies sent to stop them. Through the rugged Rocky Mountains and over a bitter winter, these people evaded the army and settlers until finally Chief Joseph made his famous statement: " From where the sun stands, I will fight no more." A great historical read.
Doris Raines
Apr 07, 2016 Doris Raines rated it it was amazing
Shelves: doris-shelf
I. Like. This. Book. Still. I. Dont. Understand. All. The. Story. I. Just. Know. These. Indians. Went. To. Hell. And. Back. I. Still. Gave. This. Book. A. 5. Why. Because. For. All. The. Struggle. They. Been. Through. Elliott. West. Great. Book. Great. Story. Great. Name. Thanks. Doris.
Katie Wilson
Mar 11, 2015 Katie Wilson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fall-2013
American historiography is stocked full of literature covering the Civil War and Reconstruction. The story of the Nez Perce is also and oft-told one, but in his book The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story, Elliot West seeks to reconsider the history of the United States during the period between 1845 and 1877. For West the phrase “Greater Reconstruction” encompasses two great events in the United States - The Civil War and its consequences, and the movement of Americans into the West - that re ...more
Megargee
May 27, 2015 Megargee rated it really liked it
Sets the Nez Perce War into the context of the Greater Reconstruction from about 1830 – 1890 but with the focus on the Northwest Territories instead of the usual emphasis on the Civil War and the Eastern US.
Jim Becker
May 09, 2015 Jim Becker rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book should be read by those who are interested in knowing more about where they live: if that is north-central Idaho (that's where I live). I now know more about the places I drive through.
But it also should be read by many more - who are interested in a gripping, real life struggle. Very well written!
Donald Linnemeyer
Elliott West is a fabulous historian. In this narrative of the Nez Perce War, West brings in a wealth of great details and strange stories, and he also connects it well to the broader narrative of America history.

The only complain I had is that he didn't elaborate more in the conclusion after narrating the war. He introduced a fascinating way of reading the latter half of the 19th century, specifically in regards to race and American citizenship, but I wanted more about that after hearing the st
...more
Randall Decker
Sep 05, 2011 Randall Decker rated it liked it
If you are looking for a novel with a weaving storyline this is not for you. This book spells out in great detain the facts of what happened to the Nez Perce. I am ashamed at what the US government did to the natives of this country but am proud at what the average American did for them. What made this a bit special for me is I was driving through Yellowstone National Park while reading the part where they were attempting their escape to Canada and passed through Yellowstone. Seeing the conditio ...more
Greg Shine
Jan 26, 2015 Greg Shine rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant! A must-read for any student of history. His introduction, too, establishes a new, fresh paradigm for the study of American history.
Brian
Mar 25, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it
I have never had much interest for the subject matter before, but boy did the author do a good job! The story enthralled me. Right now I'm reading Darwin's Origin of the Species and I can appreciate how great the talent of being scholarly and readable is--and how miserable it is to lack it. Not only is it a great story, but West also makes a periodization change that is clearly long overdue. The paragraph at the end about the American identity is brilliant and unexpected. Not what I expected fro ...more
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Elliott West received his B.A. from the University of Texas (1967) and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado (1971). He joined the U of A faculty in 1979. Two of his books, Growing Up With the Country: Childhood on the Far-Western Frontier (1989) and The Way to the West: Essays on the Central Plains (1995) received the Western Heritage Award. The Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers, and the ...more
More about Elliott West...

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