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Kenneth Moore Startup
Red, White, and Gray
John Buchanan's Jackson's Way and Robert Remini's Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars are detailed narratives describing the destruction of the place and power of Native Americans in the Old Southwest (roughly that region encompassing present-day central and west Tennessee, western Georgia, western Florida and all of Alabama and Mississippi). Chronologically, the story spans the period from the American Revolution to the Trail of Tears in 1838.
Though the books trace a common core story of Indian wars and then Indian removal, and center on the actions of Andrew Jackson, the authors emphasize different eras. Buchanan devotes more detail and discussion to the earlier part of the period, through the end of the War of 1812, while Remini offers a full treatment of the story through Jackson's presidential years. As the master, the premier biographer of Andrew Jackson, Remini brings greater focus, precision, and authority to his discussion than does Buchanan. Still, Buchanan's book is a superb work, marked by the author's formidable descriptive power and painstaking research. And Buchanan's dozens of vividly drawn vignettes make his work profoundly human in texture. The initiated and uninitiated alike will be impressed with, and instructed by, these books.
Treaty settlements, tribal customs, trailblazing pioneers, battles, wars, land speculation, international intrigue, political parties, Indian agents, duels, runaway slaves: these are among the interwoven elements of the complex history traced by Remini and Buchanan. And all these elements in turn are entangled with the personal, political, sometimes exotic story of Sharp Knife—Old Hickory—Andrew Jackson. But others too play prominent roles in the events described by Remini and Buchanan, some—like the Creek leader, Red Eagle (William Weatherford)—nearly rivaling Jackson in the authors' eyes as a man of compelling stature and significance.
Largely missing from Remini's and Buchanan's accounts are explicit references to things ...