King Philip’s War was a brutal war between the English colonists and the Native Americans in the late 17th century.
As a lesser known conflict, not a lot of books have been written on the subject but the ones that do exist are considered excellent sources on the subject.
The following is a list of the best books about King Philip’s War:
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Published in 1998, this book is about the memory of King Philip’s War and the effect it had on American society.
The book is not a general history of King Philip’s War and is instead about the textual representations of the war, specifically about the way that both the colonists and the natives wrote, remembered and talked about the war and the effect this had on the American psyche ever since.
The book received positive reviews when it was published. The San Diego Union-Tribune called it “valuable and provocative,” and the Philadelphia Inquirer praised it as “impressive….closely reasoned analysis.”
The Boston Globe praised the book’s prose, describing it as “remarkable….The delights of Jill Lepore’s prose are enough by themselves to make this book for anyone who loves good writing.”
Kirkus Reviews called it a “superb study of an all-but-forgotten war” that is “vivid and thoughtful” and Publisher’s Weekly referred to it as an “engrossing study” that “sheds new light on what is widely considered the most brutal and vicious war in American history.”
The book won the Bancroff Prize in 1999, the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize in 1998, the Berkshire Prize and the New England Historical Association Book Prize.
Jill Lepore is a Harvard professor, journalist and author who has written numerous books about American history including The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History; New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan; Encounters in the New World: A History of Documents.
Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War by Lisa Brooks
Published in 2018, this book is about King Philip’s War through the perspective of the Native Americans.
The book argues that by focusing on the stories of the natives themselves it creates a different picture of war, captivity and resistance and reveals how the natives adapted to and survived the war. In doing so it rewrites the myth that the natives went extinct or were replaced by the English colonists.
The book received positive reviews when it was published. Publisher’s Weekly praised the book for providing “a wealth of information for both scholars and lay readers interested in Native American history” while the Wall Street Journal said the book really does provide a new history of King Philip’s War by “making what we thought was a small story very large indeed.”
In addition, the book won the Bancroft award in 2019.
Lisa Brooks is an Amherst College professor, author and member of the Missisquoi Abenaki tribe. Brooks has written a couple of books about Native American history including The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast.
King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict by Eric B. Schultz
Published in 1999, this book is a general history of the war and a guide to the historical sites where it took place.
The book is divided into three sections. The first chapter is a brief history and chronological timeline of the war for people who are unfamiliar with it. The second section contains more detailed stories and descriptions of the war’s historical sites. The third section features extensive excerpts from eyewitness accounts such as captive Mary Rowlandson and colonial soldier Benjamin Church.
The book received positive reviews when it was published. American History Magazine called it “superbly researched, well annotated, and written in a lively, entertaining style” while the Boston Globe dubbed it “a Baedeker [travel guide] for a terribly bloody dispute across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine.”
Eric B. Schultz is an entrepreneur and author who writes books on business and entrepreneurship.
King Philip’s War: Colonial Expansion, Native Resistance, and the End of Indian Sovereignty by Daniel R. Mandell
Published in 2010, this book is about the causes of King Philip’s War.
The book explorers how economic and cultural conflicts, such as land conflicts and unjust laws, between the colonists and the Native Americans caused tensions between the two groups that eventually led to war.
The book received positive reviews when it was published. The Journal of American History described it as “a carefully crafted, well-researched book . . . This review does not do justice to this rich account of the complex interactions of race, ethnicity, class, and gender in the survival of native peoples.”
The American Historical Review described it as “a very valuable contribution to our understanding of Native American history in a period long overlooked” and the Journal of Interdisciplinary History said it was a “superb book on a long-neglected subject.”
Daniel R. Mandell is a professor of history at Truman State University and author who has written a number of books about Native American history including Behind the Frontier: Indians in Eighteenth-Century Massachusetts, The Lost Tradition of Economic Equality in America, 1600–1870; and Behind the Frontier: Indians in Eighteenth-Century Eastern Massachusetts.
King Philip’s War: Civil War in New England 1675-1676 by James David Drake
Published in 1999, this book explores what type of conflict King Philip’s War really was.
The book argues that the war wasn’t a culture clash like it is normally described as but was instead a civil war between two groups of people, English colonizers and Native Americans, living in the same society.
Drake goes on to stay that this is the exact reason why the war was so incredibly brutal because the English colonists saw the native’s rebellion as an act of treason and punished them harshly for it.
The book received positive reviews when it was published. The Boston Globe described Drake’s premise as a “bold interpretation” of the conflict while Publisher’s Weekly praised the book as the go-to book on King Philip’s War, stating:
“Drake offers a more original and convincing interpretation of King Philip’s War than Jill Lepore did in her 1998 study The Name of War. If readers are going to rely on only one study, it should be this one.”
James D. Drake is assistant professor of history at Metropolitan State College of Denver.
The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson by Mary Rowlandson
Published in 1682, this book is an eyewitness account written by Mary Rowlandson after she was captured by Native Americans in 1676 during an attack on Lancaster.
The book describes Rowlandson’s time in captivity and the activities of her captors as they continued to wage war against the colonists and also describes Rowlandson meeting King Philip in New York.
The book is considered to be America’s first bestseller, because it sold so well during its first year of publication, and is also considered an important primary account of King Philip’s War and is widely regarded as the first captivity narrative of its time.
History of King Philip’s War by Benjamin Church
Published in 1716, this book is a personal account of colonist Benjamin Church’s time fighting in King Philip’s War.
Church kept notes on his military operations and tactics throughout the war which he published in this book in 1716 under its original title Entertaining Passages relating to Philip’s War.
The book describes the battles he fought in, his experiences commanding a militia unit of both colonists and converted Native American soldiers and also describes his experience tracking down King Philip himself and witnessing his death at the hands of one of Church’s soldiers.
“The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity.” Publisher’s Weekly, publishersweekly.com/9780679446866
Countryman, Edward. “The War That Made Us All” New York Times, 15 Feb. 1998, archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/98/02/15/reviews/980215.15countrt.html archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/first/l/lepore-war.html
Lepore, Jill. “The Name of War King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity.” Kirkus Reviews, 3 Feb. 1998, kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jill-lepore/the-name-of-war/
Harrington, Daniel F. “America’s First Blockbuster.” The Providence Journal, 2 Aug. 2016, providencejournal.com/story/opinion/2016/08/02/daniel-f-harrington-americas-first-blockbuster/27335750007/
“King Philip’s War – NA.” Publisher’s Weekly, publishersweekly.com/9781558492240
“Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War.” Publisher’s Weekly, publishersweekly.com/9780300196733
Richter, Daniel K. ‘Our Beloved Kin’ and ‘Memory Lands’ Review: On the Trail of a Lost Northeast.” Wall Street Journal, 9 March. 2018, wsj.com/articles/our-beloved-kin-and-memory-lands-review-on-the-trail-of-a-lost-northeast-1520629929