Review: Adam Jortner, 'Gods of Prophetstown' 

****1/2
click to enlarge The Gods of Prophetstown: The Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier - Adam Jortner - Oxford University Press
  • The Gods of Prophetstown: The Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier
    Adam Jortner
    Oxford University Press

Required reading for every Indiana resident, The Gods of Prophetstown shows how we got to be who we are. Jortner's definitive scholarship is delivered in a lively, engaging style to place us in the midst of events as they unravel and interweave in frontier America. Within the heat of the moment, fully-dimensional historic personalities reveal their personal agendas and public postures.

It's our "creation" story: protagonists indeed are larger than life and tinged with hubris. William Henry Harrison and Tenskwatawa, better known as "The Prophet," seem to be destined toward a 'clash of the Titans' from birth. Careful analysis and articulation of primary sources from the 18th and early 19th centuries tells how and why they came to fight a war from which neither emerged as victor - and which left we as a people as collective losers.

Equally intriguing are the supporting characters drawn from the ranks of both the indigenous tribal people and white settlers. Whatever your politics or persuasions, you'll come away with a greater understanding of human nature and how charismatic individuals affect personal and public events. Out in time for us to reflect on the story of Indiana within the bicentennial of the War of 1812, this story of second sons striving to realize their destinies and beliefs engages and edifies.

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

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Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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