Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War

Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War Book Reviews 1027 is bold and deserves a wide reading among ven enchantment is broken, and the mundane scholars of all American sections and regions. rule of men prevails; in this case, the realm of real estate and railroad developers who bring Adam Arenson “progress” in the form of structured capitalism Manhattan College to dominate the world. Of course, as this is a New York, New York tragedy, both men, who are equally endowed doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax473 with hubris, end up disillusioned. As with Max Weber, there is no escaping the iron cage of rationalization. The only ray Thunder in the Mountains:  Chief Joseph, Oliver of hope seems to stem from a bit player in Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War. By Dan- the plot, Charles Erskine Scott Wood, him - iel J. Sharfstein. (New York: W. W. Norton & self a pawn at the hands of the developers but Company, 2017. xxiv, 613 pp. $29.95.) one who slips the bonds of the rationalizing straightjacket by applying his wealth and priv - Thunder in the Mountains is not a work of ilege toward living a bohemian life-style en - “modern” history, as most readers would c - har acterize that, nor is it a postmodern excursu tir s ely outside the constraints of Howar- d’s Prot estant ethic. Historically, Wood actually was on conflicting discourses. Daniel J Sc. harf- somewhat unusual, but his role here, if not just stein is, instead, giving u an s old-fashioned comic relief, seems to be a demonstration that morality tale of almost biblical proportions radical eccentricity—Ken Kesey–like madcap in which every event and each character is a parable for aspects of the postbellum human rather than Nietzschean charisma—is the solu - tion to the modern predicament. Long live the condition. Read as a fable for our times, it is merry pranksters! fascinating; read as history, it is as exhausting as it is frustrating. It should be noted that Sharfstein employs none of the usual academic apparatus here— This is crafted as a Sophoclean tragedy with hence the sense of frustration. The book was a Weberian plot. Oliver Otis Howard, the so- called praying general of the Civil War, brings clearly deeply researched, and while it does contain footnotes of a sort, they are nothing his deeply rooted Puritan ethic to bear against that a scholar could use to backtrack; there is irrational disorder in postwar America. As no way to verify any of the many assertions the director of the Freedman’s Bureau he at - made about either grand or piddling events. tempts to slip everyone into a one-size-fits-all straightjacket of Protestant conformity, only Thus, Thunder in the Mountains can be read only as a sweeping novelistic epic of postbellum to fail miserably in light of national compla - America and not as serious academic history. cency over the fate of freed slaves. Humbled but not broken, he is assigned to bring order Christopher L. Miller to the wilds of the Department of the Colum - University of Texas Rio Grande Valley bia, which included all of the old Oregon - Ter Edinburg, Texas ritory and newly acquired Alaska. Standing in doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax474 the way of the forces of rationalization is the preeminent charismatic figure of Chief Joseph (Heinmot Tooyalakekt—Sharfstein’s spelling) Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Feminist Foun- whose every footstep releases the animistic dations of Family Law. By Tracy A. Thomas. spirits that inhabit the homeland of his ances - (New York: New York University Press, 2016. tors. When not busy trying to stamp out the xiv, 311 pp. $55.00.) rowdy saloon life around his Portland head - quarters, Howard is bent on bringing disen - A number of feminist scholars have mined the chantment to the Nez Perce world by settling wealth of primary sources on the life and work Joseph and his people onto carefully mapped of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with magnificent rectangular farm plots on a reservation that results. While such works differ in thei-r ap his band had never approved. In good J. R. R. proaches and conclusions regarding her s - trate Tolkien style, the grand struggle ensues, the el - gies and ideas, virtually all have demonstrated Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jah/article-abstract/104/4/1027/4932651 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of American History Oxford University Press

Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War

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Oxford University Press
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© The Author 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Organization of American Historians. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
ISSN
0021-8723
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1945-2314
D.O.I.
10.1093/jahist/jax474
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Abstract

Book Reviews 1027 is bold and deserves a wide reading among ven enchantment is broken, and the mundane scholars of all American sections and regions. rule of men prevails; in this case, the realm of real estate and railroad developers who bring Adam Arenson “progress” in the form of structured capitalism Manhattan College to dominate the world. Of course, as this is a New York, New York tragedy, both men, who are equally endowed doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax473 with hubris, end up disillusioned. As with Max Weber, there is no escaping the iron cage of rationalization. The only ray Thunder in the Mountains:  Chief Joseph, Oliver of hope seems to stem from a bit player in Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War. By Dan- the plot, Charles Erskine Scott Wood, him - iel J. Sharfstein. (New York: W. W. Norton & self a pawn at the hands of the developers but Company, 2017. xxiv, 613 pp. $29.95.) one who slips the bonds of the rationalizing straightjacket by applying his wealth and priv - Thunder in the Mountains is not a work of ilege toward living a bohemian life-style en - “modern” history, as most readers would c - har acterize that, nor is it a postmodern excursu tir s ely outside the constraints of Howar- d’s Prot estant ethic. Historically, Wood actually was on conflicting discourses. Daniel J Sc. harf- somewhat unusual, but his role here, if not just stein is, instead, giving u an s old-fashioned comic relief, seems to be a demonstration that morality tale of almost biblical proportions radical eccentricity—Ken Kesey–like madcap in which every event and each character is a parable for aspects of the postbellum human rather than Nietzschean charisma—is the solu - tion to the modern predicament. Long live the condition. Read as a fable for our times, it is merry pranksters! fascinating; read as history, it is as exhausting as it is frustrating. It should be noted that Sharfstein employs none of the usual academic apparatus here— This is crafted as a Sophoclean tragedy with hence the sense of frustration. The book was a Weberian plot. Oliver Otis Howard, the so- called praying general of the Civil War, brings clearly deeply researched, and while it does contain footnotes of a sort, they are nothing his deeply rooted Puritan ethic to bear against that a scholar could use to backtrack; there is irrational disorder in postwar America. As no way to verify any of the many assertions the director of the Freedman’s Bureau he at - made about either grand or piddling events. tempts to slip everyone into a one-size-fits-all straightjacket of Protestant conformity, only Thus, Thunder in the Mountains can be read only as a sweeping novelistic epic of postbellum to fail miserably in light of national compla - America and not as serious academic history. cency over the fate of freed slaves. Humbled but not broken, he is assigned to bring order Christopher L. Miller to the wilds of the Department of the Colum - University of Texas Rio Grande Valley bia, which included all of the old Oregon - Ter Edinburg, Texas ritory and newly acquired Alaska. Standing in doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax474 the way of the forces of rationalization is the preeminent charismatic figure of Chief Joseph (Heinmot Tooyalakekt—Sharfstein’s spelling) Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Feminist Foun- whose every footstep releases the animistic dations of Family Law. By Tracy A. Thomas. spirits that inhabit the homeland of his ances - (New York: New York University Press, 2016. tors. When not busy trying to stamp out the xiv, 311 pp. $55.00.) rowdy saloon life around his Portland head - quarters, Howard is bent on bringing disen - A number of feminist scholars have mined the chantment to the Nez Perce world by settling wealth of primary sources on the life and work Joseph and his people onto carefully mapped of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with magnificent rectangular farm plots on a reservation that results. While such works differ in thei-r ap his band had never approved. In good J. R. R. proaches and conclusions regarding her s - trate Tolkien style, the grand struggle ensues, the el - gies and ideas, virtually all have demonstrated Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jah/article-abstract/104/4/1027/4932651 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018

Journal

The Journal of American HistoryOxford University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2018

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