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Tecumseh: A Life

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  230 ratings  ·  21 reviews
If Sitting Bull is the most famous Indian, Tecumseh is the most revered. Although Tecumseh literature exceeds that devoted to any other Native American, this is the first reliable biography--thirty years in the making--of the shadowy figure who created a loose confederacy of diverse Indian tribes that exted from the Ohio territory northeast to New York, south into the Flor ...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published May 15th 1998 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published April 15th 1985)
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4.05  · 
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 ·  230 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent well-researched biography of one of the most interesting characters in American history. More than a biography, Sugden’s book is also a tale of how the British, the Indians, and the Americans struggled for power in the Old Northwest.

Sugden does a great job documenting Tecumseh’s life and putting it in the context of the Indian-white struggle for power in the Old Northwest. The meat of the book is Tecumseh’s dream of an Indian confederacy to resist white expansion into that territory
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really, the decline and fall of the Native American lands.
As Manifest Destiny became more imminent, Tecumseh attempted to fend off the advancing settlers and form a Federalist type governance amongst the varied tribes across the current Midwest (central Indiana to Detroit to Cincinnati).
Ultimately, his alliance with the British during the war of 1812 failed and led to his demise.

Good read, packed with information
Jessna Woods
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a purely education book, but gives the author's opinion here and there given the rumor and romantic subject matter.
Aug 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
For me, Tecumseh was always one of those tragic "noble savages" who was turned into a one-dimensional mythological character down through the years. Like many Indian leaders, he was venerated only after he was dead and thereby no longer a threat to the "Manifest Destiny" of America. Sugden goes a long way towards humanizing Tecumseh, without engaging in apotheosis or character sniping. Still, he comes off as a larger-than-life figure. Can you imagine anyone today taking on the combined roles of ...more
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has more background and personally history of Tecumseh than the book I read about Tecumseh and Brock. A very interesting and detailed account of his life. A worthwhile and recommended read for anyone interested in Canadian history, U.S history and the history of the aboriginal peoples. It is a pity from all the accurate and comprehensive studies on Tecumseh that he is not more widely recognised for his contributions to history whether it was the one war of 1812 or the other war for the ...more
Becky Norman
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the better biographies on Tecumseh I've read (and I've read quite a few). The importance of his brother, "the Prophet" was highlighted - rather than just passing him off as a tool used by the more well-known man. And the extensive research, coupled with a fairly objective portrayal of Tecumseh, the man - rather than Tecumseh, the legend - makes this an engaging, comprehensive history.
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
John Sugden's biography of the great Shawnee chief Tecumseh is an authoritative investigation of his life and legend. Sugden investigates the legend and highlights what he understands to be the facts, based on painful investigation of the known sources relating to Tecumseh. This he successfully does, while providing the reader with an understanding of Tecumseh the man, alongside Tecumseh and his mission.

For me the book also provides an insight into the machinations of early American government,
I hated this one. It was dry, and heavy, and Sugden would present a bunch of stuff as fact, only to later tell you that it was conjecture. Let's waste our readers' time, shall we?

So that ticked me off. Really, just the whole tone of the thing ticked me off. Who does Sugden think he is? He wasn't at all objective, and seems to think his opinions are law. I always find that distasteful to read, even when I agree with the person, and I didn't agree with him most of the time.
Oct 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent biography and history of the lower Great Lakes / Old Northwest region of the period leading up to the War of 1812 -- one of the most fascinating in North American history, before either Canada or the United States were fully defined and the tribes of the Old Northwest, particularly as they became united under Tecumseh, exerted real political and military power. A great contribution to the literature of native resistance.
Al Gritten
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This one took me a while to read because it is very in-depth and a very detailed look at the life of both Tecumseh and his younger brother, the Prophet or Tenskwetawa. The book is an academic account that is well documented with ample footnotes and notations of interest. This is probably the fullest and most authoritative account of the Shawnee prince that I have read. A good read for the historian.
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting subject matter, but Sugden's prose is tedious and makes this one very hard to get through. My interest waned as I worked through it because of this, even though I am very interested in this period and the subject. Maybe it's the difficulty of writing a biography of a figure with a largely undocumented life that is the problem (?). I was thinking about picking up his volumes on Nelson, but I'm not sure if I can make it through if the writing is the same as in this book.
Jun 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very long book, or at least it seemed so to me. I learned a good deal about the period of American and Canadian history spanned by the Shawnee leader's life, but I found Sugden's prose to be less than lively and the book more full of detail than a non-historian like me really wanted to wade through. Not my cup of broth, but I respect the scholarship and the subject.
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most factual accounts of the life of Tecumseh that I've come across. Told with quite a bit of information from Canadian sources, which gives an entirely different viewpoint than the American versions. One friend I lent the book to came back with an entirely new opinion of William Henry Harrison.
Tony Laplume
Jan 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly comprehensive in a general kind of way, Sugden immerses his reader in Tecumseh's life and times, synthesizing the historical record without really getting to the heart of it in a dispassionate or piercing way. But maybe that's as good as it's going to get.
Frank Fischer
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author John Sugden presented a very thorough well researched document that at times could be a little dense and dry. The content was very intriguing. I want to read more about Tecumseh and the War of 1812.
Simon Griffin
After reading many others books about Tecumseh and enjoying them, I was unable to immerse myself in John Sugden's prose. Even though the subject matter is fascinating, the book moved slowly and was too dry. I made it through about 1/3 of the book and put it back on the shelf.
Good bio & excellent overview of 19th century "NW" USA
May 31, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one else really.
I gave up on this book after 8 chapters. The writing just didn't seem to have a flow, and that quality is not good for a biography of a critical figure in late 1700 - early 1800's North America.
Alan Jacobs
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He is an American hero, and even more, a Canadian hero. A moving account of his life.
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. It was a pretty easy read and I learned some interesting things. It is fascinating that the author is British.
May 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my childhood heros.
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