Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Italian Tribune Review

April 14, 2016

Thanks Italian Tribune ( for your kind review of Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World!

Thanks also Fra Noi (!

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We are also delighted to announce that the cover of Italy Invades has been selected as a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards da Vinci category.  Thanks and congratulations Blaine Donnelson!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ketchup History

Some academic historians like to use the term "genocide" the way that Americans use ketchup -- they put it on everything! Sadly Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous People's History of the United States ( falls into this category.

This might really have been an interesting book. The topic is intriguing and worthy. Sadly Dunbar-Ortiz is an anger-filled writer who prefers to grind her Marxist axe rather than even attempting to present a balanced picture of the interactions between Native Americans and Europeans in North America.

Dunbar-Ortiz constantly repeats the charge of genocide against the "settler colonists" that founded America. But she does not present one shred of evidence to support this outrageous charge. Genocide is a intentional plan to destroy an ethnic group. There were wars against the native americans, there was double-dealing, there were massacres and there were crimes but there was not a genocide. There was a cycle of violence that began with the slaughter of the small garrison left by Columbus in 1492 by indigenous Taino people on the island of Hispaniola.  For my take on Columbus see...

Before contact with Europeans North america was in a state of almost continuous low level warfare. Archaeology reveals "embedded spear points, healed injuries, crushing skull fractures resulting from blunt objects" (Source: Scott Weidensaul's The First Frontier: The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery, and Endurance in Early America, Dunbar Ortiz ignores this reality. Nor will you find any mention of historical events such as the Cherry Valley massacre in upstate New York by Iroquois working on behalf of the British in the American Revolution ( that very nearly wiped out my own family.  Nor does Dunbar Ortiz mention the Fort Mims massacre by Creeks in 1813 that killed about 500 settlers in Alabama (

Dunbar-Ortiz portrays Andrew Jackson as a genocidal "Indian hater," but neglects to mention that he adopted a Native American as his own son.  Lyncoya was adopted by Andrew a his wife Rachel and educated with their son Andrew Jackson jr. but died at an early age of tuberculosis.  Dunbar-Ortiz, who likes her polemic served in black and white, actually writes that "Jackson was the Dark Knight in the formation o the United States as a colonial, imperialist democracy."
Dunbar-Ortiz approvingly describes Geronimo as the leaders of a "people's war" but neglects to mention that he later cooperated with US officials, converted to Christianity and even became a justice of the peace. Dunbar-Ortiz has nothing but contempt for the US military and was offended that the US Navy Seals used the code name "Geronimo" when they killed Osama Bin Laden. She does not seem to grasp that the US military has repeatedly honored native Americans with names such as the Apache helicopter, etc. A statue of the mighty Tecumseh can be found on the grounds of the US Naval academy in Annapolis.

Tecumseh statue, US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD
Dunbar-Ortiz distorts the tragic reality of the native American experience. As Charles Mann (1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, and many others have documented it was the spread of disease and the native American lack of immunities that caused the vast majority of deaths in both north and south America after Columbus. Smallpox was devastating but it is in no way to be confused with "genocide".

Dunbar-Ortiz believes firmly in American exceptionalism -- she simply believes that Americans are exceptionally murderous!

This book does have some unintentional humor. Dunbar-Ortiz informs us that "America" and "American" are "blatantly imperialistic terms" yet apparently she boasts on her cover that this book won the "2015 American Book Award"!  She even calls the Mount Rushmore monument in the Black Hills a "shrine of in-your-face illegal occupation and colonialism."  Dunbar-Ortiz dismisses Christianity as a "profit-based religion."

There are so many better alternatives to the unconvincing Dunbar-Ortiz narrative. If you want to understand the impact of Columbus and the coming of the Europeans read Charles Mann's 1491 and 1493 ( If you want to understand the initial impact of Europeans on North America read Scott Weidensaul's The First Frontier: The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery, and Endurance in Early America ( If you would like a balanced view of the tragic conflict between the Sioux and Custer that culminated with the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 read Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors (

Stephen Ambrose, who studied genocide with some care, wrote in 1975 that, "It is, for example, totally irresponsible to state - as has so often been stated - that the United States pursued a policy of genocide toward the Indians." Ambrose was right. Anger is not an agenda and hate speech is not really history.

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Coming in the Fall of 2016...