|A wide-ranging study that moves Indigenous peoples from the periphery to the core of continental history. "Indigenous absence has been a long tradition of American historical analysis," writes Blackhawk, a professor of history and faculty coordinator for the Yale Group for the Study of Native America. In recent years, this has changed thanks to the efforts of a new generation of historians to count marginalized groups such as women and ethnic minorities in the larger narrative. By the author's account, American history represents an "epic encounter" between empires, Native and European, each conditioning the other. For example, pressures on the nations of the Iroquois Confederacy by British/American collision with the French Empire in North America pushed Iroquoian peoples into the Ohio River Valley, creating further conflict among Indigenous groups. In his lucid exposition, Blackhawk rightly notes, "while violence was an essential institution of colonialism, it was never enough to achieve permanent goals of empire." While violence may have secured certain short-term goals, it introduced still more instability into an already unsettled situation that endangered everyone involved. "Once it is initiated," writes the author, "none can predict its ultimate course." Blackhawk locates some of the most fraught moments of westward expansion in the years of the Civil War, when a preoccupied Abraham Lincoln left matters of Native policy largely to his generals in the West, advocating instead an abstract program of "assimilation, land cessions, and eventual disappearance." Violence naturally ensued, with new Native confederations such as alliances of the Sioux and Cheyenne against the U.S. Army leading to Little Big Horn. The author closes with an analysis of the doctrine of "termination," which attempted to dismantle Native communities, assimilate their members, and steal away their treaty lands, plans that eventually failed. Even today, though, Blackhawk notes that conflict exists as interest groups attempt to erase "the hard-fought gains of the modern sovereignty movement." A well-reasoned challenge for future American historians to keep Native peoples on center stage. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.