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Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America
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Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  197 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
“With remarkable literary skill, Peter Silver . . . provokes hard thinking about the basic themes of our history.”—Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy

Relying on meticulous original archival research, historian Peter Silver uncovers a fearful and vibrant early America in which Lutherans and Presbyterians, Quakers, Catholics and Covenanters, Irish, German, French,
Paperback, 432 pages
Published August 3rd 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published November 26th 2007)
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Greg Coates
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More than a history book, this narrative of the mid-Atlantic colonies of the 18th century explores how humans behave in the face of the "other." Fear, suspicion, violence. The book strangely seems profoundly appropriate for 21st century America.
Sam Newton
Sep 29, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think there's an interesting thesis, but it is very had to find in this book: colonists adopt the "white people" label during the Seven Years war and united together against the common threat of Indians. They brutally fought their common enemy and ultimately united as a tolerant people. Huge overuse of quotations to the point of distraction. I had to labor through what should have been a much easier read. This book wandered back and through through so many inconsistent points that I had diffic ...more
Jay Quarantello
Savage Neighbors did a fantastic job describing what it was like to live out on the frontier in the Middle Colonies. Some of the passages and ideas presented were riveting. However, at times the chapters did not feel unified, and the last third of the book seemed best fit for another title. This book also has a near exclusive European-American perspective, where I wished there would be more consideration of the Native American point of view. Definitely worth a read if you're interested in the hi ...more
Apr 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amer-history
A well-narrated, densely documented history of how European groups (including Irish militiamen) joined against Quakers and Native Americans to promote the "anti-Indian sublime," and justify murder and pillage against peaceful Indians in the mid-Atlantic. British alliance with Indians who still fought European settlement fueled indignation and united disparate, formerly feuding groups who joined to fight British rule. The sanitized, entirely noble narrative taught in American public schools is un ...more
Brandon Righi
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An essential read if you're seeking an understanding of the American character and history. I would rate this up there with other classics such as American Slavery, American Freedom.

This is not a jingoistic history––be prepared to be saddened by what you learn. But the knowledge is empowering and enlightening.
Kelli Peters
Peter Silver presents information about the Indian Wars of the 1700s and how these wars shaped the development of American culture and government. Silver describes how wars with Native American groups contributed to the development of a more unified "American" colonial culture rather than a fractured "European" colonial culture.
Jenny Smoddy
May 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well- supported thesis examining how anti-Indian sentiment developing around the violence of the French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars served to unite the divided "white" community and eventually create a racial hatred as those whites gained strength and a desire for territorial expansion.
Dec 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book provided me with intriguing new perspectives on the period from just before the French and Indian War, through the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The unfortunate loss of 2 stars was a result of insufficient organization, lack of clarity, and lack of balance. Yes, I understand that this book has received recognition from those far better versed than I, but this is just one layman's perspective. Also, the subtitle is very misleading. This book is not a treatment of how early Amer ...more
Zachary Bennett
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A beautifully written book that clearly makes a subtle argument with some big implications about how we think race operates in America.

Silver argues that the creation of whiteness was the result of Indian War. The book takes place in Pennsylvania from 1750-1780 or so. In the beginning, PA was so divided by religion and ethnic difference that a sense of gradual integration was not present at all, and that being Indian or German was the same difference to people. This changes with the Seven Years
Adam Christians
Sep 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: for-school
Absolutely horrid book and would not recommend to anyone. Considering this book won the Bancroft Prize, I was expecting much more. I suspect the prize was awarded due to the unique research analyzed and not for any other reason.

There are no complaints on the research itself, but there are major flaws for the "book" portion. While the author clearly defines the thesis, it is much too broad. The author utilizes far too many quotes within the book and has little analysis. Many of the paragraphs con
Frank Stein
Apr 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

An interesting description of how the war between Indians and white colonists unified colonial America before the onset of the revolution.

Despite the broad title, the book focuses almost entirely on Pennsylvania, and specifically on Pennsylvania during the Seven Years War and its aftermath. It's an interesting choice because the Quaker Penn family's early "Peace Policy" meant that the state was relatively free of Indian war until the 1750s. The vicious battles during this time, then, came as eve
Joseph Stieb
I agree with most of the skeptical reviewers here on Goodreads: this book is pretty disorganized, imbalanced, and ultimately way too long for the argumentative punch it delivers. Silver's argument reminds me a bit of Morgan in American Slavery, American Freedom, but in a much less effective and more ponderous package. The argument is that Penn. before the mid-1750's was deeply internally divided on religious and ethnic grounds to the point of barely functioning. Then 3 decades of wars with India ...more
Dec 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a little misleading, and I don't know whether to blame the author or the publisher or who. The book is titled "Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America." But it is not really about "early America", it is about Pennsylvania. Silver tries, in the intro and conclusion, to make a case that the book is about the middle colonies in general, but really. No. It is about Pennsylvania. And very specifically, for much of the time, it is about Pennsylvania politics, and ho ...more
Sharon Miller
This book is a good visit to a formative time in the Mid-Atlantic, full of dramatic events and a very good use of primary sources. However the rambling prose and ill-defined, incoherently presented thesis made this book far more of a meandering and speculative exercise in History than a solid argument as the title suggests. Too many run-sentences, too many run-on thoughts, made this book quite a maze of pleasantly narrative but rather irritatingly disorganized presentation. Sitting around a fire ...more
Kathleen Hulser
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant analysis of what fear does to create prejudice, examining a fascinating assortment of writings from colonial period that show early Americans quaking in their boots at the mere thought of Indians. Silver has thoughtfully drawn on 20th century studies of the genesis of racial prejudice to interpret foreign relations between Indian nations and colonial Americans, documenting not only the rise of attitudes that congeal into hardened stereotypes, but also the mutation of rumor into firm op ...more
Jamie Thomas
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jamie by: Professor
It was hard to grasp his thesis, I'm still not sure if I do. It appears that "Our Savage Neighbors" is about how the colonists were also savages to their Indian neighbors. Silver over uses quotes to a point that it distracted me more than it helped me. He also does not have a set style, he often jumps around the different decades and re-tells stories. I struggled to finish this book.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rating... A tedious work I had to fight to finish. The writing wasn't bad or difficult, nor the subject matter especially dull; but I was underwhelmed the whole way through and found nothing particularly revelatory to make it worth my while. Must have been a bad year for Bancroft considerations for this to have won.
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
One of the worst written books I have read. Informative but poorly contrived with a style that hard to follow. His use of quotes throughout make it even more difficult to follow exactly what he is saying and it questions whether it really is his work.
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
great book, homie folded quite a lot of primary source quotations into the meringue (the book could have been 20 pages shorter), but on the whole, the thesis was well supported and the prose was engaging.
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quaker-history
Actually continuously reading as a reference. Attracted to book due to Peter Silver's interview on NPR talking about fear as a reason for violence. Great insights and great look at the history
Aug 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
as a transplant to PA, this book gave me a lot of history of many of the hills and valleys I've ridden my bicycle over.
Aug 27, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Our Savage Neighbor by Peter Silver is a book that was really hard to fallow and I did not enjoy reading it at all.
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