New Books in the American West
Interviews with Scholars of the American West about their New Books
Joe Jackson, "Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary" (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2016)
Black Elk witnessed some of the most monumental moments in the history of the Lakota and the Northern Great Plains: Red Cloud’s War, the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the murder of Crazy Horse, Wounded Knee. In his compelling new biography, Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2016), award-winning nonfiction writer and journalist Joe Jackson tells the story of this place and these events through the chronicle of Black Elk’s life. As one of the most globally famous practitioners of Lakota spirituality, Black Elk’s life is well known. Jackson uses an array of sources to breathe new life into his story and presents the complicated, sometimes tragic, sometimes hopeful figure within his historical context. Jackson’s prose is crisp and vibrant, and the narrative of Black Elk’s religious and personal lives make for a page-turning story. Black Elk: The Fife of an American Visionary won the 2017 Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians.Stephen Hausmann is a doctoral candidate at Temple University and Visiting Instructor of history at the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently writing his dissertation, a history of race and the environment in the Black Hills and surrounding northern plains region of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.
Kellie Jones, "South of Pico: African American Artists in the 1960s and 1970s" (Duke UP, 2017)
New York City might have been the epicenter of the twentieth century American art scene, but Los Angeles was no slouch either, writes Kellie Jones in South of Pico: African American Artists in the 1960s and 1970s(Duke University Press, 2017). Dr. Jones, Professor of Art History at Columbia University and 2016 MacArthur Fellow, examines several African American artists and their work including Bettye Saar, Charles White, and John Outterbridge, and emphasizes the importance of migration, space, and interconnectivity in the LA art scene of mid-century. Watts, the site of a 1965 rebellion, was one particularly salient and vibrant part of the city’s African American art community. These artists used diverse media including performance and assemblage to comment on post-war American politics and society. The book appeals to experts and non-experts alike and is a strong example of how understanding art can help us to understand social movements and the interconnectivity of our world.Stephe...
Joshua Reid, "The Sea is My Country: The Maritime World of the Makahs" (Yale UP, 2015)
In 1999, the Makahs went out on the Pacific for their first whale hunt in over seventy years. The event drew protests from animal rights activists and local (mostly white) Washingtonians. But to the Makahs, the event was a cause for celebration. Why did the whale hunt hold such divergent meanings for different people along the Northwest Pacific Coast? Joshua Reid, Associate Professor of History at the University of Washington, attempts to answer that question in The Sea is My Country: The Maritime World of the Makahs(Yale University Press, 2015), which won the Caughey Prize from the Western History Association in 2016, along with several other awards. For centuries, the Makahs valued maritime space as a central part of their homeland. Europeans empires, and later Americans and international institutions, tried to impose their own notions of spatial control and hard borders onto the Pacific Northwest borderland, but often ran up against Native power. The Makahs have repeatedly adapte...
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