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The Middle Ground by Richard White - Book Report/Review Example

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In the essay “The Middle Ground by Richard White” the author discusses a classic piece of historical writing. Employing the term ‘middle ground’, the writer certainly seeks to explore the relationship between the indigenous Indian tribes and the European traders…
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The Middle Ground by Richard White

White covers the period from 1650 to 1815, beginning with the refugees and their interaction with indigenous Indian tribes along the Great Lakes Region and ending with the emergence and formation of the Confederacies and their aftermath, as the Indian tribes were further emaciated and marginalized. Employing the term ‘middle ground’ is a wise decision and the writer certainly seeks to explore the relationship between the indigenous Indian tribes and the European traders from a decidedly neutral point of view, delving into their distinctive beliefs, fears, hatred and disgust of each other. Yet they had to live and let live, as they could not change the present realities. Their relationship with each other is explored from the point of view of their cultures and traditions, trust and mistrust of each other and of the further aspirations of the Europeans to inhabit the lands while restricting and relegating the indigenous tribes rather unceremoniously into second class inhabitants and outcasts, evicted from the very lands that were once their sole property and domain. Discussion Richard White is a historian who specializes in early American history and has made the exploration of relationships between the indigenous Indian tribes and the early European fur traders the subject of his particular domain. We see this also in his other books, ‘The Roots of Dependency’ and ‘Its Your Misfortune and Not My Own’, where he tries to reiterate that each succeeding victor in the American West exploited the land and its inhabitants for short-term benefits. At least we have an honest historian who is prepared to rewrite history as the vanquished indigenous Indian tribes would have. It is highly refreshing to have an unbiased viewpoint, and the author has received acclaim for just this very virtue. Whatever their separate, communal and individual feelings about each other, from the time trade was first initiated between the Indians and the Europeans, it was clear that they needed each other in order to thrive and prosper. That is White’s entire premise in the book, and if they had learned to live and trust each other in an atmosphere of mutual dependency and respect, the world would have been a very different place today. Nevertheless, we cannot change the facts of present-day America, but can only respect and revere his unbiased point of view where both victor and vanquished would be cohabitants. Analysis of Content Although the purpose of the book is never explicitly stated, it is implied all through the volume. Yes, we can see and agree that the purpose of the book is achieved. The book has been quite purposefully and effectively organized. While there is a chronological sequence of events, the true genius of White is that he has also managed to deal with themes and topics of common interest in the same vein. The book thus culminates with a discussion regarding the politics of benevolence, assimilation and other related matters (White, 2010, 519). The book is extremely well written and would make sense to anybody interested in the history of America’s origins. However, it would definitely be more truly appreciated by the avid history buff or scholar. The audience level is not meant to be the average reader, and the book does not imply that it is part of Oprah’s recommended reading list. ... Read More
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