Summary

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 precontact 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, US Army soldiers, US congressmen, California governors, and others. The state and federal governments spent at least $1.7 million 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.
Cover image courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry Museum, Los Angeles: 482
©2016 Benjamin Logan Madley (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By B. C. Furzer on 06-09-16

Horrendous and gripping!

I listened to all evening this and found much of the story distressing if factual!

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Rebecca Lindroos on 20-03-17

Not for the faint at heart

What made the experience of listening to An American Genocide the most enjoyable?

The history - I read and listened to the book via Kindle. Amazing. I think the attention to detail is incredible here - Madley names the names, dates, and places of so many of the hundreds of massacres the thousands of emigrant gold miners of 1849-1870 and others perpetrated on the Native California Indians. He calls the 25- to 30-year span of virtually uncontrolled delegalizing, trafficking and killing a genocide (using UN definitions) for good reason.

What was one of the most memorable moments of An American Genocide?

When I realized what the "killing machine" was actually comprised of was "memorable." There were the local volunteers (newcomer miners and ranchers) electing like-minded congressmen who got funding to support the militias which were established and the money often refunded by the Federal government. Meanwhile the newspapers encouraged the carnage. Whole tribes were "exterminated" (the word used in primary sources) because a cow was supposedly stolen.

What does Fajer Al-Kaisi bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Al-Kaisi gave life to all the data. I read parts in the Kindle version, too, but mostly I listened as one horror was piled on the next added to another atrocity and all piling up into a genocide.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

" Know now" - ?

Any additional comments?

Not for the faint of heart but absolutely vital for anyone looking to piece together the history of California in terms of the Indians.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Steve Senatori on 04-10-17

Required reading for California residence!

Loved it. A truth so painful yet necessary to have told. You will never think of California the same afterwards or many of its big names and founders, like Fremont, Hastings, and Stanford, many of whom were worse than the worst Nazis murders and butchers. We are a shame as long as we do so little to right this gross injustice and suppression of the truth. -s.

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