Synopses & Reviews
The Pequot Indian intellectual, author, and itinerant preacher William Apess (1798–1839) was one the most important voices of the nineteenth century. Here, Philip F. Gura offers the first book-length chronicle of Apess's fascinating and consequential life. After an impoverished childhood marked by abuse, Apess soldiered with American troops during the War of 1812, converted to Methodism, and rose to fame as a lecturer who lifted a powerful voice of protest against the plight of Native Americans in New England and beyond. His 1829 autobiography, A Son of the Forest, stands as the first published by a Native American writer. Placing Apess's activism on behalf of Native American people in the context of the era's rising tide of abolitionism, Gura argues that this founding figure of Native intellectual history deserves greater recognition in the pantheon of antebellum reformers. Following Apess from his early life through the development of his political radicalism to his tragic early death and enduring legacy, this much-needed biography showcases the accomplishments of an extraordinary Native American.
Finally, we have an extensive biography of the Native American writer and polemicist, William Apess, one of Native America's most significant early intellectuals. But The Life of William Apess, Pequot is more than just a biography; it is an investigation into how the underrepresented intellectual communities of early American people of color constructed and presented ideas of themselves, looking at the development of American political and legal institutions as they grappled with race, freedom, and land tenure. This is a book of exemplary detail, a much-needed contribution to our understanding of early America and its Native societies. -- Phillip Round, author of Removable Type: Histories of the Book in Indian Country, 1663-1880
Philip Gura's remarkable book brings to life a legendary and mythic figure in American letters. In the 'misty time of the past,' William Apess was understood more as a persona rather than as a person of flesh, blood, bone, mind, and initiative. The result was a depiction that was more fleeting and vanishing than solid and credible--making Apess seem a matter of imagination rather than reality. Now, finally, through painstaking research, Philip F. Gura has brought Apess vividly to life. He does it by portraying Apess as a player in the dynamic history of Indigenous New England and the nation as a whole. I love this work and I recommend it highly, not only as literary knowledge but also as cultural, social, and historical knowledge. -- Simon J. Ortiz, Arizona State University, author of From Sand Creek, Out There Somewhere, and Beyond the Reach of Time and Change
Extensively researched and absorbingly written, The Life of William Apess, Pequot
delivers by far the most thorough [email protected]
reconstruction to date of the life, career, and significance of antebellum New England's most important Native American writer-activist. -- Lawrence Buell, Powell M. Cabot Research Professor of American Literature, Harvard University, author of New England Literary Culture
About the Author
Philip F. Gura is William S. Newman Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His many books include Truth's Ragged Edge: The Early American Novel and American Transcendentalism: A History, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.