The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity

TitleThe Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsLepore, Jill
Number of Pages345
PublisherVintage Books
CityNew York

In 1675, Algonquian Indians all over southern New England rose up against the Puritan colonists with whom they had lived peacefully for several decades. The result was the bloodiest war in American history, a terrifying conflict in which the Puritans found themselves fighting with a cruelty they had thought only the natives capable of. By August 1676, when the severed head of the Wampanoag leader King Philip was displayed in Plymouth, thousands of Indians and English men, women, and children were dead. More than half of the new towns in New England had been wiped out, and the settlers' sense of themselves a civilized people of God had been deeply shaken. By interpreting reactions to the war on both sides of the racial divide, Lepore reveals the crucial role the conflict played in shaping the colonists' and the Indians' ideas of themselves and of each other. More profoundly, she shows us that the lasting effects are felt not in how many lives are lost, but in how brutality is justified and how war is remembered.

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