In the Hands of the Great Spirit

Every once in a great while an author manages to synthesize a vast amount of academic material into a wide-ranging monograph that is beautifully written and immensely valuable.  Such authors have a rare gift and provide us with books that are much needed at a time when the pressures of academic specialization force far too much writing of the narrow variety.  Universities tend neither to recognize nor reward synthetic scholarship aimed at a larger audience.  Think Bill Bryson — he has the gift. 

With this in mind, I must recommend a truly splendid book of this genre: Jake Page’s In the Hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000 Year History of American Indians.  If you are able to read only one book on Amerindians, this is the one.  Not only does it cover everything essential for understanding native history, but it does so in a way that does not distort the complexities of this enormous subject.  

And for those who wish to understand Amerindian supernaturalism, this volume provides essential background and minor treatment.

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