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Shadows at Dawn: An Apache Massacre and the Violence of History

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  324 ratings  ·  37 reviews
A masterful reconstruction of one of the worst Indian massacres in American history

In April 1871, a group of Americans, Mexicans, and Tohono O?odham Indians surrounded an Apache village at dawn and murdered nearly 150 men, women, and children in their sleep. In the past century the attack, which came to be known as the Camp Grant Massacre, has largely faded from memory. No
Paperback, 358 pages
Published November 24th 2009 by Penguin Books (first published November 20th 2008)
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Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Diane by: Josh
This is a fascinating look at the Camp Grant massacre from four different perspectives; it applies the Rashomon effect to the slaughter of Native Americans.

On the morning of April 30, 1871, a group of Mexicans, Anglo-Americans and O'odham Indians surrounded an Apache camp in Aravaipa Canyon in the Arizona territory and massacred more than 100 Apaches, mostly women and children. Only a few Apaches were able to escape; several others were taken hostage.

Jacoby divided the book into chapters based
Shadows at Dawn is non-fiction work about the 1871 Camp Grant Massacre, when a group of vigilantes attacked an Apache camp, slaughtering mostly women and children. The story is told from the perspectives of the four different peoples involved: Anglo-Americans, the Apache, the Mexicans, and the O'odham Indians.

Jakoby did a wonderful job researching this event. There was written history by the white settlers, but much of the native perspective was through oral history. In this way, however, a stu
Aisha  Iman
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a solid book. It's a historical narration of the Camp Grant massacre if Apache people on Arizona, except it focuses not only on the events but gives you a clear picture of the time period with it's social-political dynamics. This was very insightful and i enjoyed reading this because I've never read a history book that didn't go from east to west. It actually focuses on the two prominent Native tribes: the Tohono O'Odam and the Apache along with the spanish/mexican history if the area. ...more
Margaret Sankey
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Taking as its center the Camp Grant Massacre of 1871, Jacoby traces the complex relationships between the four peoples who collided in Aravaipa Canyon--the O'odham, the Spanish Vecinos, the Americans (and the American Army, functioning sometimes separately) and the Nnee, with special concern for what they called themselves (O'odham and Nnee rather than Pima and Apaches, for example) and recorded their histories, whether anthropologically collected religious oral traditions, calendar sticks or co ...more
Mar 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-ever, historical
Tells the story of the 1871 Camp Grant Massacre, in which 140 peaceful Apaches were killed by a mixed party of white Americans, Mexican vecinos, and O'odham Indians. Aside from the excellent research and writing, what really makes this book extraordinary is that Jacoby refuses to collapse the complexity of the story into a single narrative. Instead he tells the same story four times, once from the perspective of each group. The second half of the book is similarly organized, focusing on each gro ...more
Copied from a review I wrote for class:

"Karl Jacoby’s Shadows at Dawn is an attempt to make clear the events surrounding the Camp Grant massacre in Arizona in 1871. Jacoby describes the circumstances that led to the clash from the points of view of the four parties involved: the O’odham (the Papago), los Vecinos (the Mexicans), the Americans, and the Nṉēē (the Apache). Jacoby attempts to show how differences in point of view can alter how an event is portrayed and remembered. By examining the st
Sep 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shadows at Dawn is a history book that recounts the tragic events that led up to the Camp Grant Massacre in 1871. It was the time of the old west, with years of conflict between the American settlers and the Native American populations that had steadily been pushed ever westward due to the expansion of the United States.

What was noteworthy about this book was that it provides amazing insight into the perspectives of the groups involved in the Camp Grant Massacre. The book sheds light on a little
Sep 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
As an Arizona native who never heard of the Camp Grant Massacre, I was fascinated by how Jacoby wove Tohono O'odham, Mexican, American and Apache perspectives of this seminal event. The facts: in 1871, a group of Tohono O'odham, Mexican and American men attacked a sleeping Apache village and murdered 144 people, mostly women and children. Twenty-seven Apache children were taken away, mostly to be sold as slaves. In its time, this incident was controversial like the Battle of Wounded Knee or My L ...more
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Historians, American Studies
The way Karl Jacoby takes one incident, The Camp Grant Massacre, and tells the story of before, during, and after the event from four different perspectives is a refreshing take on history. Often in history books you only get one side of the story, with Shadows at Dawn Jacoby acknowledges that there were many reasons and consequences to what happened in Arizona on that summer morning. I highly recommend this book to people who are interested in Arizona history, Native American history, or Americ ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jacoby's ability to bring together all the participants' histories and motives kept my interest through the entire book. Understanding not only the causes of the massacre but the ways in which consequences played out (and were later obscured) helps further his argument regarding the need for change in American western history.
Jan 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
really impressed with this thus far -- takes a single incident (the slaughter of some 150 apaches in the Arizona desert in 1871) and retells/reexamines from four different perspectives (anglo, hispanic, apache, and tohono o'odham tribe).
Thomas Clark
Jun 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well-documented history of the Camp Grant Massacre that portrays the Sonora-Tucson area in a multifaceted, detailed, and scholarly perspective. Defining an atrocity's place in history as Jacoby does is a demanding task and he excels in this narrative.
Oct 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The white man sucks. Wait, I knew that already…
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The organization of this book was fascinating and worked to supplement and highlight the points of the narrative. Jacoby begins with a brief overview of the massacre at Camp Grant in which 120+ Apaches, mainly women and children, were murdered. He then spends the first half of the book talking about the lead up to the massacre from the perspective of the four groups involved: Anglo Americans, Mexican Americans, Tohono O'odham Indians, and the Apache. Doing so highlights how complicated the relat ...more
Russell Contreras
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent and detailed account about a massacre I did not know. Written by one of my favorite historians, the book looks at the complexities of race, class and land theft amid genocide that lead to one of the most horrendous acts of violence on American soil. The text examines the tensions between tribes, Mexican Americans and white invaders and what ultimately end with the deaths of innocent Apache women and children. We need more of these stories to come to terms with a violent past of the ...more
The basis of the book is the Grant Camp massacre of 1871. In that incident, Americans, Mexicans and another tribe of Indians killed a number of Apache Indians, many of whom were women and children. I learned a lot about Indians in the southern Arizona area and about he relationships among these various Indian tribes, the Mexicans and the Americans. All in all not pleasant. But, also not obvious how this could have or should have been handled differently or any better.
Dave Papendorf
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. The terminology and shifting language between the sections made it tricky, but I understand the methodology behind doing so. Overall, I think this book tended to be fair and thoughtful. A good read, albeit a longer read.
Cecilia Hernandez
Dec 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
sad events that occurred and very long book too long to be reading . I simply lost interest in the book. by the time I reached the end I was glad to put it down forever.
Allan McLeod
Difficult subject. Didn't capture my interest the way I had hoped. I like to know the characters, not only their stories.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
The story of a massacre of the Apaches and the four groups involved.
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Patricia Nelson Limerick once wrote that Western history is complex until proven simple. Jacoby's book proves her point as it contrasts four approaches to a forgotten but terrible event.
J. Allen
Feb 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shadows at Dawn brings one of American histories darkest moments into the light. It is an expose of yet another attempted genocide extermination of american indigenous peoples. The targeted tribe in this text is the Apache. The author shares the perspectives of four different cultures all centralized around the main event of the Camp Grant Massacre in Arizona on April 30, 1871. The perspectives are consisted of pre and post accounts of the main event as well. The represented cultures are those ...more
Ken Ransom
Shadows at Dawn is a historical reconstruction of the escalating conflicts and alliances between Americans, Apache, Mexicans, and Tohono O'odham* and how each group has remembered or forgotten the Camp Grant Massacre**.

* Tohono O'odham means "Desert People." The federally recognized tribe is known as the Tohono O'odham Nation.

** On April 30, 1871, an unlikely group of Anglo-Americans, Mexican Americans, and Tohono O’odham Indians massacred more than a hundred Apache
Steven Howes
Jul 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good deal of this book is devoted to the history of the region and of the four key groups involved in the Camp Grant Massacre on April 30, 1871, in Aravipa Canyon near Tucson, Arizona. Approximately 140 Apache Indians (mostly women and children)were killed and 27 children were taken captive. The author discusses the histories and inter-relationships of the 4 ethnic groups involved including the Apaches themselves, the Tohono O'odham Indians, the Hispanics (both Mexican and descendants of Europ ...more
Bob Schmitz
My son Matt gave me this very interesting book. Karl Jacoby is a professor at Brown. He tells the story of a massacre of Apache Indians in Arizona in 1870 from the points of view of all the participants: Mexican-Americans, European Americans, Apache and Pima Indians. He gives the historical background of the area from the arrival of Indians, Spanish and then Americans. He then tells each groups story of the massacre sequentially. Not only is this a very detailed description of the area and the A ...more
Jo Stafford
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
History is multi-layered and multi-faceted, filled with competing narratives. In telling the story of the Camp Grant massacre from the perspectives of each group of perpetrators - Anglo Americans, Mexicans, and the Tohono O'odham - and the Western Apache victims, Karl Jacoby shows just how complex the interpretation of historical events can be.

Shadows at Dawn is masterful and thought-provoking history. Jacoby brings to light 'the past's multiple meanings' by concentrating on each group involved
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best history book I've ever read. By focusing on a particular point and telling multiple narratives to and from that point, it gives an incredible depth of research in a very readable format.

It's a very difficult thing in history to let the sources tell the story and to tell a complicated story when doing so, but Jacoby manages. It's a great lesson in historiography as well as the American West from the US, Mexican, Oodham, and Apache perspectives, never letting one become the "master" narra
A good history book that centers around the tragic incident of the Camp Grant Massacre by providing multiple perspectives to it. The author describes individuals and entire groups of peoples in the borderland and their experiences of each other. The storytelling is captivating, but the readers definitely learn how it all fits into the bigger picture of imperialism.
[sped through the last 50 pages]
Wesley Redfield
The writing is cumbersome. Too bad academics can't write even when they have a good topic. Yet, for people who are not aware of the slave trade and warfare among Spanish/Mexicans and various Indian tribes, the book will be informative.
I read this for a seminar, where we were able to spend three hours with the author in person, picking his brain over the how's, what's, why's of this book. I'd sort of feel like cheating if I actually reviewed it. Suffice it to say: it's good. More later!
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