Monday, October 16, 2017

Booknotes: Wars for Empire

New Arrival:
Wars for Empire: Apaches, the United States, and the Southwest Borderlands
by Janne Lahti (Univ of Okla Pr, 2017).

Janne Lahti is a Finnish historian who's developed a keen interest in culture and warfare in the American Southwest, joining a number of recent colleagues studying borderlands conflicts. Earlier this year, his edited collection of biographical profiles titled Soldiers in the Southwest Borderlands, 1848–1886 was released, and he already has another title out that also operates in the same geographical space.

Wars for Empire: Apaches, the United States, and the Southwest Borderlands describes and analyzes the decades-long war between the U.S. government and the Apache Indians. In it, Lahti "offers a new perspective on the conduct, duration, intensity, and ultimate outcome of one of America's longest wars."

From the description: "Centuries of conflict with Spain and Mexico (ed.: and intertribal warfare?) had honed Apache war-making abilities and encouraged a culture based in part on warrior values, from physical prowess and specialized skills to a shared belief in individual effort. In contrast, U.S. military forces lacked sufficient training and had little public support. The splintered, protracted, and ferocious warfare exposed the limitations of the U.S. military and of federal Indian policies, challenging narratives of American supremacy in the West. Lahti maps the ways in which these weaknesses undermined the U.S. advance. He also stresses how various Apache groups reacted differently to the U.S. invasion. Ultimately, new technologies, the expansion of Euro-American settlements, and decades of war and deception ended armed Apache resistance."

More: "By comparing competing martial cultures and examining violence in the Southwest, Wars for Empire provides a new understanding of critical decades of American imperial expansion and a moment in the history of settler colonialism with worldwide significance."

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