mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli
mordicai

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Soggy Shrub. (55)

Warriors of the World: The Native American Warrior: 1500 CE - 1890 CE by Chris McNab.

The Medicine Shield,
face sprinkled with hoddentin
The Great Ghost Dancer.

Everyone knows the scuttlebutt on the battle methods of the so-called "Ancient World". Heck, Rome is so deeply ingrained in the zeitgeist that even those without an interest in historical warfare will use words like "centurion." It is just there, soaking in the public eye. Which is exactly why non-Western concepts interest me so much; I've already got a decent gloss on Europe, considering the highly Eurocentric assumptions of the American mind. That being said, I don't want it to spin into Orientalism, where non-Western things become fetishized. It can be tricky; there is even the additional pitfall of trying to sort out the contemporary bias ("the Injuns killed the babies, & tortured them too!") & going too far-- effectively neutering the actual events. You don't want to present a fable of nature loving pacifists. It is a difficult line to walk, but Chris McNab does it easily & with the best tool at hand: facts. This volume presents a rough overview of "Native Americans" all while being very clear that there is no such thing, really-- there are varieties of tribes & nations living on the continent when Europeans hit. McNab separates things geographically & presents the information as a mix of trends & concrete examples. I quite enjoyed it. It is sad to think that this is also a fairly general view of Native American history post-colonialism, since warfare quickly grew to disproportionate focus. McNab doesn't shirk from pointing out the tragedies of American genocide, & he doesn't paint rose coloured picture of either side while doing it. Quite simply-- Native Americans are people, & he portrays them as such. As I said, you can get your fill of discussion on gladius length or lorica segmentata patterns; this is a nice resource for oft-neglected subjects like self-bows, arrow poisoning techniques, rawhide clubs, lances, the whole works. There is a discussion about the introduction of the horse into Native American modes of combat, maps of specific battles, autobiographical accounts from Geronimo, a whole gamut of useful things. It is all capped off with vintage photos, artwork, & illustrations-- I particularly like the painting of Lewis & Clark meeting some warriors on 197. Actually, the Tlingit section might be my favorite over-all, for that matter. The book's capstone is a brief mention of Native American's modern military service-- Navajo code-speakers & bunker busters. I definitely recommend this book to any interested party; diversifying your military research is always a good idea.
Tags: books, haiku
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