The Form of Things: Essays on Life, Ideas and Liberty Paperback – 3 Oct 2007
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"In brisk, pithy, jargon-free prose, Grayling opens issues for ordinary readers, leaving them with something to think about without, much of the time, trying to settle anything." "Library Journal" on "The Mystery of Things""
"An excellent example of a fine essayist in action . . . readers will benefit from an encounter with his erudite and elegant prose. Highly recommended." "Library Journal" on "Life, Sex and Ideas""
Grayling has that wonderful gift that all good teachers have, the ability to simplify
A new edition of the bestseller from our pre-eminent philosopher, A.C. GraylingSee all Product description
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Part of the author's purpose is to address what he considers the misplaced notion of attributing this astounding Iroquois military success to the "magical" Iroquois Confederation, an alleged inherent warlike disposition or a superior intellect. In this, he appears to be addressing earlier theories as to the reasons for Iroquois success. He may overstate his case regarding the lack of contribution from the Iroquois political institutions. The author does not overstate the Iroquois success, however. He demonstrates the Iroquois failures through the mid-1600s, their rapid (but limited) success thereafter, their lack of military success against non-neighboring tribes, and their inability to maintain an expansive empire.
The author appears to have a through knowledge of the primary (primarily Jesuit Relations and Colonial Documents of New York) and secondary (Parkman et el) sources and interacts with them throughout the book.
A problem with this book (1940 edition-3rd printing 1967) is some inconsistant dates used. On Pg 68 the author has the "Neutral and Erie Wars of 1660-65" and Pg 97-98 states the Neutrals were defeated in 1651 and the Erie defeated in 1654 (both tribes being dispersed and effectively destroyed as tribal units).
The author does argue for an economic motive (the fur trade) fueling the conflict between the Iroquois and their enemies. He also suggests that this economic motive was a positive factor in maintaining peace within the Iroquois confederacy itself. To suggest that economic motivation for war has been discredited or that the author has underlying "marxist concepts (sic)" appears completely unfounded. The author acknowledges that the European-Indian trade is monopolistic and mercantile in nature (government controlled economies). Prices are fixed, competition does not (for the most part) exist, there is no "Free Market Capitalism" here. This is not a book about economics but a book about the reasons for the unlikely Iroquois victory over their neighbors.
For a better overview of this subject, check out the Iroquois Wars I & II, available from Amazon.com, which offer excerpts from the primary sources themselves and tell a much different story from Mr. Hunt's faulty interpretation.
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