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Book Cover for: The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History, Ned Blackhawk

The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History

Ned Blackhawk

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78% of readers

recommend this book

Critic Reviews


Based on 4 reviews on

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Finalist:L.A. Times Book Prize -History (2023)
Winner:National Book Award -Nonfiction (2023)
National Bestseller

Winner of the 2023 National Book Award in Nonfiction - Finalist for the 2023 Los Angeles Times Book Award in History - Winner of 2024 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Nonfiction

Named a best book of 2023 by New Yorker, Esquire, Barnes & Noble

A New York Times Notable Book of 2023 - A Washington Post Notable Work of Nonfiction of 2023 - An NPR "Book We Love" for 2023

"Eloquent and comprehensive. . . . In the book's sweeping synthesis, standard flashpoints of U.S. history take on new meaning."--Kathleen DuVal, Wall Street Journal

"In accounts of American history, Indigenous peoples are often treated as largely incidental--either obstacles to be overcome or part of a narrative separate from the arc of nation-building. Blackhawk . . . [shows] that Native communities have, instead, been inseparable from the American story all along."--Washington Post Book World, "Books to Read in 2023"

A sweeping and overdue retelling of U.S. history that recognizes that Native Americans are essential to understanding the evolution of modern America

The most enduring feature of U.S. history is the presence of Native Americans, yet most histories focus on Europeans and their descendants. This long practice of ignoring Indigenous history is changing, however, as a new generation of scholars insists that any full American history address the struggle, survival, and resurgence of American Indian nations. Indigenous history is essential to understanding the evolution of modern America.

Ned Blackhawk interweaves five centuries of Native and non-Native histories, from Spanish colonial exploration to the rise of Native American self-determination in the late twentieth century. In this transformative synthesis he shows that
- European colonization in the 1600s was never a predetermined success;
- Native nations helped shape England's crisis of empire;
- the first shots of the American Revolution were prompted by Indian affairs in the interior;
- California Indians targeted by federally funded militias were among the first casualties of the Civil War;
- the Union victory forever recalibrated Native communities across the West;
- twentieth-century reservation activists refashioned American law and policy.

Blackhawk's retelling of U.S. history acknowledges the enduring power, agency, and survival of Indigenous peoples, yielding a truer account of the United States and revealing anew the varied meanings of America.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publish Date: Apr 25th, 2023
  • Pages: 616
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.50in - 6.45in - 1.55in - 2.34lb
  • EAN: 9780300244052
  • Categories: Indigenous - GeneralUnited States - GeneralNative American Studies

About the Author

Ned Blackhawk (Western Shoshone) is the Howard R. Lamar Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University, where he is the faculty coordinator for the Yale Group for the Study of Native America. He is the author of Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West. He lives in New Haven, CT.

Critics’ reviews

Praise for this book

"Eloquent and comprehensive. . . . By presenting post-1492 history as a series of encounters between the various peoples of the Americas and the peoples from Europe, Africa, and Asia--rather than as an account of Europe's discovery of a new world--Blackhawk provides a view of that past from multiple perspectives. . . . In the book's sweeping synthesis, standard flashpoints of U.S. history take on new meaning."--Kathleen DuVal, Wall Street Journal

"Even as the telling of American history has become more complex and nuanced, Native Americans tend to be absent. Blackhawk, a professor at Yale, confronts that absence in this sweeping account of how Native Americans shaped the country legally, politically, and culturally."--Washington Post, "50 Notable Works of Nonfiction" (2023)

"A sweeping, important, revisionist work of American history that places Native Americans front and center."--New York Times Book Review (cover review)

"[A] monumental reappraisal of the United States' history. . . . Blackhawk . . . foregrounds the endurance of Native Americans' autonomy and traditions in the face of their near-eradication."--New Yorker, "The Best Books of 2023"

"In accounts of American history, Indigenous peoples are often treated as largely incidental--either obstacles to be overcome or part of a narrative separate from the arc of nation-building. Blackhawk . . . challenges those minimalizations and exclusions, showing that Native communities have, instead, been inseparable from the American story all along."--Washington Post Book World, "Books to Read in 2023"

"This ambitious retelling of the American story, by a historian who is also a Native American, places Indigenous populations at the center, a shift in perspective that yields fresh insights and thought-provoking questions."--New York Times, "100 Notable Books of 2023"

"[Blackhawk's] book will become an indispensable text for a generation of researchers, educators and students."--Caroline Dodds Pennock, BBC History Magazine

A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Best Book of 2023

"Gripping and nuanced, The Rediscovery of America is an essential remedy to the historical record."--Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire, "The 20 Best Books of 2023"

"A thoughtful, innovative, and provocative book. . . . The legends about the founding and growth of the United States have been promulgated so often and so widely that Blackhawk's conception of American history is long overdue. It is, more than any other attempt at re-interpreting our national story, US history turned upside down."--David Shribman, Boston Globe

"Ned Blackhawk has opened the door to a national conversation. . . . While academics and educators can argue about whether Blackhawk's new paradigm should replace existing frameworks for understanding American history, he has succeeded in demonstrating that a deeper knowledge of Native American history should supplement (if not supplant) our understanding of our collective national experience. . . . It's a conversation worth having. And long overdue."--Sara Bhatia, Washington Monthly

"Striking a masterful balance between the big picture and crystal-clear snapshots of key people and events, this is a vital new understanding of American history."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Illuminating and ambitious, . . . rewarding and essential."--Patrick Rapa, Philadelphia Inquirer, "Best New Books to Read in May"

"Deeply researched and engagingly written, the book is a monumental achievement."--Rhoda Feng, Mother Jones

"A wide-ranging study that moves Indigenous peoples from the periphery to the core of continental history."--Kirkus Reviews

"As Blackhawk puts it, 'Encounter--rather than discovery--must structure America's origins story.' The Rediscovery of America shows the power of encounter in many places--from the Monroe Doctrine to Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty."--Craig Fehrman, Boston Globe

"Raise your hand if you didn't learn Indigenous history in school--or if you only learned a racist, white-centric, colonizer version of it. Infuriatingly, the prevalence of harmful myths about Native history is still far, far too common. In this comprehensive history of Native America, Ned Blackhawk adds his voice to the growing chorus of Indigenous scholars and historians who are fighting back against this erasure."--Laura Sackton, Book Riot

"Blackhawk argues that U.S. history cannot be understood without understanding how Indigenous and settler histories are interwoven."--Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

"Blackhawk . . . masterfully webs together a challenge of the nationalist, oversimplified narratives Americans know so well. . . . I found nuggets on every page. I could have spent weeks poring over the bibliography, running back and forth between Blackhawk's synthesis and other sources. There's so much to learn and absorb. It's my hope that this book gets into the hands of every history teacher in this country."--Izzie Ramirez, Vox

"Engrossing and thought-provoking, . . . highlight[ing] the myriad ways Indigenous people have shaped the United States' politics, Constitution, diplomacy and culture."--Bridget Bentz, NPR's "Books We Love" for 2023

"There are books of history, and then there are books, like this one, that seek to change the way history is written and taught. Ned Blackhawk's haunting, masterful book wants to recast the entire relationship between the United States and the Native populations that lived on this land before European imperialists arrived."--James Ledbetter, Yale Alumni Magazine

"[A] magisterial new history of Native North America."--David A. Nichols, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Friends and family who still cite books by Howard Zinn around the dinner table will relish Yale historian Ned Blackhawk's comprehensive and authoritative retelling of U.S. history and how our nation's indigenous peoples help shape the country's principles of democracy."--San Diego Union, "The Best Books to Give This Holiday Season"

"Will open readers' eyes to a new range of ideas and correct a history that has too often focused on an ill-conceived notion of who Native Americans were and are in this country. . . . Groundbreaking."--Bill Castanier, Lansing City Pulse

"Here we have a new foundation for history, showing how all aspects of America have been influenced by its complex Native-newcomer interface. . . . [Blackhawk's] elaborately documented accuracy satisfies beyond anything I've read in a career of teaching young children about American history."--Tim McCarthy, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

2023 National Book Award winner, nonfiction category, sponsored by the National Book Foundation

"The Rediscovery of America is a testimony to the transformation of the field of American Indian history over the past several decades, and Blackhawk has abandoned the 'interpretive tools' of generations of American historians."--Brenda J. Child, University of Minnesota

"Ned Blackhawk's elegant and sweeping account of American history illuminates five centuries of Native American history. He upends familiar narratives to reveal the enduring centrality and vitality of Native peoples in American political life."--Barbara Krauthamer, Emory University

"Ned Blackhawk not only restores Native Americans to the core of the continent's story but also offers a running analysis spanning immense times and climes."--Andrés Reséndez, author of Conquering the Pacific

"On his search to rediscover America, Blackhawk brilliantly rewrites U.S. history, illustrating that it cannot be told absent American Indians. This is the history text we have been waiting for."--Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

"Richly told and deeply informed, The Rediscovery of America demonstrates the centrality of Indigenous Americans to U.S. history. Blackhawk shows that at every turn the enduring relations between natives and newcomers have shaped the course of the American republic."--Claudio Saunt, author of the National Book Award finalist Unworthy Republic

"Ranging across the continent and across the centuries, Ned Blackhawk skillfully interweaves American history and Native American history, demonstrating conclusively that we cannot properly understand one without the other."--Colin G. Calloway, Dartmouth College

"Refusing to tell simple stories of subordination or resistance, Ned Blackhawk shows how American politics, law, diplomacy, the economy, and popular culture become incomprehensible without a Native presence."--Richard White, Stanford University