An American Genocide by Benjamin Madley
The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873 (The Lamar Series in Western History)

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Much of the book—almost 200 pages—is given over to a series of appendices that detail incidents along with the number of people killed, the location, and the historical attestations for each. Dispiriting but essential scholarly reading for students of early modern California.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

Between 1846 and 1873, California’s Indian population plunged from perhaps 150,000 to 30,000. Benjamin Madley is the first historian to uncover the full extent of the slaughter, the involvement of state and federal officials, the taxpayer dollars that supported the violence, indigenous resistance, who did the killing, and why the killings ended. This deeply researched book is a comprehensive and chilling history of an American genocide.
  
Madley describes pre-contact California and precursors to the genocide before explaining how the Gold Rush stirred vigilante violence against California Indians. He narrates the rise of a state-sanctioned killing machine and the broad societal, judicial, and political support for genocide. Many participated: vigilantes, volunteer state militiamen, U.S. Army soldiers, U.S. congressmen, California governors, and others. The state and federal governments spent at least $1,700,000 on campaigns against California Indians. Besides evaluating government officials’ culpability, Madley considers why the slaughter constituted genocide and how other possible genocides within and beyond the Americas might be investigated using the methods presented in this groundbreaking book.
 

About Benjamin Madley

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Benjamin Madley is assistant professor of history, University of California, Los Angeles, where he focuses on Native America, the United States, and genocide in world history. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.
 
Published May 24, 2016 by Yale University Press. 712 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for An American Genocide
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Kirkus

Good
on Mar 28 2016

Much of the book—almost 200 pages—is given over to a series of appendices that detail incidents along with the number of people killed, the location, and the historical attestations for each. Dispiriting but essential scholarly reading for students of early modern California.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Alan Taylor on May 27 2016

...Madley plays up the designing role of state and federal officials...Much of the evidence, however, shows elected officials reacting to many and diffuse initiatives by their far-flung constituents, who could and did act on their own well-developed racial hatred to commit mass murder.

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