Synopses & Reviews
This first complete account of the Lakota Indians traces their rich and often surprising history from the early sixteenth to the early twenty‑first century. Pekka Hämäläinen explores the Lakotas’ roots as marginal hunter‑gatherers and reveals how they reinvented themselves twice: first as a river people who dominated the Missouri Valley, America’s great commercial artery, and then—in what was America’s first sweeping westward expansion—as a horse people who ruled supreme on the vast high plains.
The Lakotas are imprinted in American historical memory. Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull are iconic figures in the American imagination, but in this groundbreaking book they emerge as something different: the architects of Lakota America, an expansive and enduring Indigenous regime that commanded human fates in the North American interior for generations. Hämäläinen’s deeply researched and engagingly written history places the Lakotas at the center of American history, and the results are revelatory.
"A brilliant, bold, gripping history." Simon Sebag Montefiore, London Evening Standard
“My favorite non-fiction book of this year.” Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg Opinion
"Turned many of the stories I thought I knew about our nation inside out." Cornelia Channing, Paris Review
“Impressive... Lakota America takes us from the 16th century to the present, with painstaking, carefully marshaled detail, but its real feat is in threading how the Lakota philosophy and vision of the world guided their reinventions and their dealings with colonial powers... Hämäläinen has the novelist’s relish for the strange, pungent detail... [in this ] accomplished, and subtle, study.”—Parul Sehgal, New York Times
About the Author
Pekka Hämäläinen is the Rhodes Professor of American History and Fellow of St. Catherine’s College at Oxford University. He has served as the principal investigator of a five‑year project on nomadic empires in world history, funded by the European Research Council. His previous book, The Comanche Empire, won the Bancroft Prize in 2009.