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Boyd Cothran

Dec 9, 2014

Remembering the Modoc War

Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence

University of North Carolina Press 2014

purchase at bookshop.org If George Armstrong Custer had kept off of Greasy Grass that June day in 1875, Vine Deloria, Jr.'s manifesto might well have been called "Canby Died For Your Sins." The highest ranking U.S. military official to be killed in the so-called "Indian Wars," General Edward Canby's death at the hands of Modoc fighters in 1873 unleashed a campaign of ethnic cleansing and guerrilla resistance later colloquialized as the Modoc War. An international sensation at the time and iconic in the decades following, the Klamath Basin struggle has been largely overshadowed in contemporary historical memory. In his razor-sharp account Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), historian Boyd Cothran not only reconstructs this dramatic story but traces how various actors--pushed and pulled by the demands of an acquisitive capitalist market--transformed the memory of the war into a redemptive tale of American innocence, a recasting of colonial violence that still shapes U.S. self-perceptions today.

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