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Book Review on “Exterminate Them” by Clifford Trafzer and Joel Hyer

Question

· Length: 300 words 

· Use of first person (I, me) is OK, but don’t overdo it. 

· When you write about the book or its author, write in present tense (what we call the “literary present”). 

· When you write about historical events, write in past tense (the historical past). 

· You take a critical approach to the work. Here are some tips for getting into a critical posture.

· Fundamentally, you are not writing about the events of the past. You are writing about the book and its author. You will mention historical events, of course, perhaps relate some of them, but the book and its author are your subjects. 

· Spend only a few words, perhaps one brief paragraph, summarizing content. Tell what the author does in the book, capture the argument, and give some highlights. Key point: be sure to state the author’s purpose in writing the book. The author’s purpose is the basis for evaluating the book. (Be sure to read the preface, because historical authors usually say in their prefaces what they are trying to do with their books.) 

· Evaluate how well the author achieves her purpose. Does the work stay on message? Does if martial good evidence? Does the author communicate findings well? 

· And if the author does achieve her purpose, so what? What is the significance of it? 

Answer

Book Review on “Exterminate Them” by Clifford Trafzer and Joel Hyer

Exterminate Them! by Clifford Trafzer and Joel Hyer is a history book that outlines the human cost and consequences of the ‘gold adventure’ in early America. It provides an analytical and thorough study of the gold-rush era using historical documents that portray the utter collapse of legal and moral laws among American immigrants particularly in their treatment of the Indians. For example, they present as evidence newspaper articles that show the murder, rape and enslavement of Native Americans by immigrants. The main argument in the book is that the Americans viewed the Native Americans as a ‘stone-age people who had to yield to the power of a more technologically-forward people’ (Trafzer and Hyer 9). It elaborates on how state laws were created in California that enslaved Indians. There was also a systematic deterioration of guarantees of Indian land and civil rights protections in accordance with the Treaty of Guadalupe (Trafzer & Hyer 10). This resulted in Indians being dispossessed of their land as a way of ensuring that they contributed more to the gold quest. The authors successfully destroy the long-held image of miners as rough fellows caught amidst the ‘gold adventure’.

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                The authors of the book achieve their purpose really well by presenting the book as an analysis of the Indians culture and the impact the gold rush had on their everyday life as opposed to being just another historical narrative. They also present good evidence, including original newspaper articles, to depict first-hand the torture suffered by the Indians at the hands of the dominant immigrant group during the gold rush. I think the work is well presented, with down-to-the-ground details like stating the names of casualties as opposed to just providing numbers. Throughout the text, the authors manage to stay on course and relevant to the theme despite having taken the reader back to the historical events and giving an analysis of them. However, although Trafzer and Hyer communicate their findings well, the book presents only one perspective, that of the Native American, and this begs the question as to why they did not consider the mainstream American perspective for impartiality’s sake. Meanwhile, Exterminate Them! is a well-written book that offers deep insights into the struggle and suffering of the Indians in old America during the gold rush.

Works Cited

Trafzer, Clifford. and Hyer, Joel. Exterminate Them! East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1999. Print.

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