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The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity
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The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  671 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Winner of the the 1998 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award of the Phi Beta Kappa Society

King Philip's War, the excruciating racial war--colonists against Indians--that erupted in New England in 1675, was, in proportion to population, the bloodiest in American history. Some even argued that the massacres and outrages on both sides were too horrific to "deserve the name of a war."

It a...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published September 23rd 2009 by Vintage (first published January 20th 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,298)
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Jeremy Perron
In my last post I described how a short while ago, I decided to do a straight reading up on the history of my country. Not by a series of biographies or of any particular event; but a simple march through the ages exploring all the eras of the United States of America. The first challenge is to find books that try their best to explore from multiple perspectives avoiding just one narrow view, without at the same time surrendering a general narrative that is both readable and enjoyable. The secon...more
David Bates
Jill Lepore’s 1998 work The Name of War explores one of the flash points where violence blazed up in the late 17th century – the uprising known alternately as King Philips War and Metacom’s Rebellion. A meditation on war, and the way the colonists chose to portray it in words in order to understand its meaning and justify their actions, Lepore’s fundamental concern is to understand the issues of identity which were in her view both the war’s cause and lasting effect. The collapse of the politica...more
The Name of War is a thematically-structured meditation on the violent and significant conflict known as King Philip's War, fought between English colonists and Native Americans in 1675-6. The fighting occurred primarily in New England between, on the one hand, English colonists of the Massachusetts and Plymouth colonies, the Mohegan and Pequot tribes along with so-called "praying Indians" who had converted to Christianity, and on the other hand, the Wampanoag, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Abenaki and...more
"The colonists MUST have FELT, as the Indians' flaming arrows PENETRATED the SKINS of the white MAN'S houses, that they THEMSELVES WERE BEING PENETRATED by the DARK OTHERS whose own violence was now being WRITTEN ON the BODY as well as the LANDSCAPE in bold strokes."

If you like speculation and taking flimsy evidence and using it to put words in the mouths of historical actors, then you'll dig this book. Postmodern, literary techniques work sometimes to tell the stories of persons who cannot spea...more
In the Name of War is a revisionist interpretation of King Philips War. This is not a history of the war and provides an example of how the colonists at the time interpreted various aspects of the war. From seizing of colonists to selling Indians into slavery the effects of the war were traced throughout the war period. The brutality of the war is captured through the narrative that she lays out but in the end you really have to be interested in the time period to get something out of it. Like m...more
The Name of War is a fascinating account of King Philip's War, a violent and bloody affair in which the second generation New England Colonists were pitted against King Philip (Metacom) and various indigeous peoples of the area. As each side fights this war to maintain their cultural identity, each group inevitably changes. These changes impact what later becomes a cultural identity unique to the United States. If you love history, Colonial American history, war history, or just enjoy reading ab...more
Jill LePore's "The Name of War" is a fascinating read; the book explores questions about how we, as humans, remember and record history, and what faults our methods have. As the name of the book suggests, LePore's novel deals mostly with how language plays a role in how history, particularly King Philip's War is remembered, as the name of King Philip's War varies depending upon who is asked.

"The Name of War" is probably the easiest summer read I've ever done for a history class; it was interest...more
Lepore's work here disappointed. She has obviously done substantial research, I just do not find her theoretical framework all that satisfying. Maybe I do not fancy books about "the worst fatal war in American history" that analyze language and memory and lack much human sympathy. A work that takes the "English" to task for not understanding the Wampanoag but seems fairly nonchalant in its lack of understanding (and frankly stereotypical portrayal) of the Puritan.
I started reading this book after I found out that one of my ancestors was killed in King Philip's War at the Battle of the Great Swamp, December 1675. The first two thirds of the book was OK - how did the war start? what was each side's greivance? But the last third was awful.
Frederick Channell
Had to read this for a Colonial History class in college. Three other classmates did also. We all hated it. As dated as Flintlocks and Tomahawks is, it is a far better book on the war.
Truly fantastic. Lepore has mastered the art of history-telling; she tells the story as straight as it can be told from the historical record, and makes incisive connections to other historical events, eras, and emotional epochs. If history had been old like this when I was in school, many fewer kids would have hated it. Also, many fewer kids would have turned into unthinking, racist, 'Merica First! assholes. Nuance and empathy are important parts of understanding what has happened before so tha...more
This is quite simply outstanding. King Philip's War – or whatever it should best be called – is not only one of the forgotten conflicts of American colonial history but of colonial history in all – but then so much indigenous resistance is written out of memory and our experiences of the past. Jill Lepore's concern is not with reconstructing what happened, but with exploring how the war was understood at the time, remembered after the event, and deployed in 19th and 20th century US history and p...more
so far I am really diggin' the introduction.

Prologue: English situated themselves as not Savages (like Indians) and not Cruel (like Spanish). They were worried about assimilating with Indians and becoming more savage, fighting this war would distance themselves from Indians, but to win they would have to commit savage acts. They had learned from other wars that by winning they would also be able to record the story of the war, a written record would be a way of winning the war all over again. Di...more
Michael Lindy
If someone is looking for an in-depth historical analysis of the use of language in King Phillip's War, he or she will find no better source than "The Name of War". If one is merely looking for a general analysis of King Phillip's War, or is just interested in colonial American history, "The Name of War" is still a great find. If one is looking for a story filled with exciting adventure, intrigue, romance, and suspense, one might wish to look elsewhere. That is not to say, of course, that "The N...more
Barksdale Penick
Another in the series of influential book about American history that my daughter the budding scholar sent my way. I had never before of this conflict in the 1600s between the New England natives and the English settlers, but it ended as one would expect, with the natives unable to overcome the settlers. They didn't have reservations then, but the Indians were either killed, sold into slavery, or pushed to the fringes of society, and in most cases it didn't really matter if any particular Native...more
Sherry Chandler
I suppose it is appropriate that I should finish Jill Lepore's The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity on this Independence Day when Johnny Depp, in his role as Tonto in The Lone Ranger, is being widely castigated as yet another white man playing a Native American on stage or screen.

If not the first, perhaps the most famous white man to base a whole career on playing an Indian was Edwin Forrest, a 19th century actor whose play Metamora turned King Philip into a "n...more
Jill Lepore’s book The Name of War provides a unique perspective on how we have come to understand the events and significance of King Philip’s War. Lepore clearly illustrates how sensational writing has affected the lasting interpretations of these events, incensing not only the people of the seventeenth century but continuing to outline the framework for how this violence is studied today.

In her introduction, Lepore states that “truth in war is relative.” Her analysis of the publications and...more
Wendy G
Really great history of early America. Jill Lepore is tracing the history and the public memory of King Philip's War, which devastated the New England colonies in the 1670s. One hundred years before the American Revolution, colonists defined themselves as English and clung to this identity, especially living so far from home and in such close proximity to Native Americans. While colonists' demands for space increased, some New England tribes felt squeezed out of their homes, and pushed closer to...more
It's important to note that "The Name of War" is not a traditional history of King Philip's war. It is, rather an interpretive cultural history of the causes, contemporary effects and legacy of the 1675 conflict.

Lepore spends much of the book focusing on the written records left by the New England colonists and the lack of same by their Algonquian enemies. This leads her to somewhat stretched speculation as to the thoughts and motives of the Indians, but that much is forgivable due to the near...more
Alex Woods
The Name of War was far more interesting than other books I've read for History. I'd never heard of King Philip's War, and this book was a great way to become acquainted with it. Rather than just telling the of King Philip's War, Lepore works to analyze what it meant for the development of the cultural identification of those involved-- English, Americans, and Indians. She presents intriguing primary sources and uses them to allow the reader to experience what the war must have actually been lik...more
This book is deceptively named, in my opinion. It should be titled "The EFFECT of King Philip's war..." as it spends absolutely no time on the history of the war itself. It is full of interesting trivia and so I didn't give it only one star but it is NOT about King Philip's War itself. Most frustrating for me, since I wrongly expected a history of the war, was how the author spends the vast majority of the book using the war as a springboard for her own speculations, some defensible and interest...more
Chris Kostenko
This book, written in 1998,may be Lepore's first book. In it she tells stories of events that occurred and reviews the written reactions of people of the time, always making the point that literacy allows one to speak and to declare the truth, but the author analyzes responses, using as much evidence as she can collect.
If you want to know what happened during King Philip's War, this probably isn't the book for you. This is more of a literary analysis of writings about the war (almost all by colonists) to understand attitudes about war and ethnic identity.

When Lepore was discussing how the colonists tried to maintain their sense of English-ness in spite of their side inflicting some pretty horrific violence on Philip's side, I was surprised how little mention was made of earlier colonial violence in the Pequot...more
Some brilliant passages, but unfortunately some really dry stretches. I was born in New England and the subject of the conflict between the colonists and some natives was new history to me. 1675-76 is not too far from just setting up the colonies and this war devastated whole towns and villages. Some big issues too! The colonists worried about going native. The decision to fight versus convert the natives. The big issues of sovereignty and land ownership. I did not know about the awful treatment...more
Zoe Long
Jill Lepore's take on how literature and the use of language affects war is fascinating. She truly takes you inside the violence and brutality of King Philip's war while creating a better understanding of why these conflicts occurred. Although at times the chapters were a bit lengthy in facts, this book was a great read if you are interested in studying a war that has aftereffects in America to this day. Lepore explores the themes of race, identity, God, territory, and memory; the legacy a war l...more
Fascinating look at how this war helped the colonists define themselves. Some people say this is a revisionist interpretation, since it's somewhat sympathetic to King Phillip's cause. If you're interested in this war or this time period in American colonial history, it's not a bad idea to read this, then immediately read Nathaniel Philbrick's "Mayflower", which may be a bit more measured in its depiction of how the war played out (and whether King Phillip's motivations were noble).
This took a while to get into but I think it is one of the best history books I have read ever. Period. The author takes certain themes of language, cultural identity, place, religion, and reactions to foreign cultures and weaves it together to try to explain how southern New England was changed by the war. She even takes the impact farther on past the immediate generation of the war and into generations beyond. Good stuff. Do yourself a favor and stick with it.
In America in 1675 there was a war called King Philip's War. It was bloody, fueled by misunderstandings, and it established a legacy of White intolerance toward Native Americans. If you want to understand early colonial America, particularly how language shaped puritan identity and constructed the grounds for war against the "other" read this book. It's a heady book, but not as high-falutin' as you might think. Leopre is one of the most readable nonfiction writers I know.
Mar 20, 2008 Robert rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interesting in our historical origins
A fascinating description of this early american war. She presents various perspectives and effects on different peoples, including participants on both sides, harmed Indian "bystanders" and subsequent american viewpoints whose recall of the noble native did not preclude their continued abuse. Her description of savagery on both sides was fair and sympathetic to the victims without her becoming an apologist or rationalizing those heinous acts.
Lepore takes us on the original American journey of war. As members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony moved further westward, the once welcoming Algonquin Indians waged war. The war, at first decried for its tactics, became the mode for the invaders and brutality led to brutality. Lepore argues that this war created the American identity, this war waged 100 years before the American revolution.

A wonderful read.
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JILL LEPORE is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History, Harvard College Professor, and chair of Harvard's History and Literature Program. She is also a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her landmark biography of Benjamin Franklin’s youngest sister will be published in 2013. Her previous books include The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death (Knopf, 2012); The Whites of...more
More about Jill Lepore...
Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan The Story of America: Essays on Origins

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