Friday, December 18, 2015

What is Michael A. McDonnell reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Michael A. McDonnell, author of Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America.

His entry begins:
Funny enough, I’ve just been reading the work of two great Australian historians - who happen to be married to each other. One of the wonderful things about teaching here in Australia is that it forces you to read widely and think comparatively, if only to keep up with the varied interests of amazing colleagues.

Recently, we took a trip up to Magnetic Island, just off the east coast of Australia and within the Great Barrier Reef. I took along a copy of Iain McCalman’s The Reef: A Passionate History, that relates the human history of the Reef in a series of brilliantly told biographies from Captain Cook to Charlie Veron – an environmental activist trying to document the shocking effects of climate change on the Reef today. I don’t normally read non-fiction while trying to relax, but Iain’s book was a compelling and delightful read. He brings to life in vivid detail Cook’s claustrophobic and near- deadly encounter with this uncharted wonder, different Aboriginal communities’ relationship to its nurturing grasp, and the science (and scandals) surrounding the study of corals and reefs. Now heading up...[read on]
About Masters of Empire, from the publisher:
In Masters of Empire, the historian Michael A. McDonnell reveals the pivotal role played by the native peoples of the Great Lakes in the history of North America. Though less well known than the Iroquois or Sioux, the Anishinaabeg, who lived across Lakes Michigan and Huron, were equally influential. Masters of Empire charts the story of one group, the Odawa, who settled at the straits between those two lakes, a hub for trade and diplomacy throughout the vast country west of Montreal known as the pays d’en haut.

Highlighting the long-standing rivalries and relationships among the great Indian nations of North America, McDonnell shows how Europeans often played only a minor role in this history, and reminds us that it was native peoples who possessed intricate and far-reaching networks of commerce and kinship, of which the French and British knew little. As empire encroached upon their domain, the Anishinaabeg were often the ones doing the exploiting. By dictating terms at trading posts and frontier forts, they played a crucial part in the making of early America.

Through vivid depictions—all from a native perspective—of early skirmishes, the French and Indian War, and the American Revolution, Masters of Empire overturns our assumptions about colonial America. By calling attention to the Great Lakes as a crucible of culture and conflict, McDonnell reimagines the landscape of American history.
Visit Michael A. McDonnell's website, blog, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Michael A. McDonnell.

--Marshal Zeringue