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Check out this very positive review of my book from Shelf Awareness, an e-newsletter for book readers and critics:

An American Betrayal: Cherokee Patriots and the Trail of Tears

by Daniel Blake Smith


Is a patriot’s duty to demand the absolute rights of his or her people to the end? Or is it more heroic to negotiate the best possible terms when faced with an inevitable defeat? This troubling question hangs heavy over Daniel Blake Smith’s intriguing An American Betrayal, a detailed history of the Trail of Tears, the brutal forced relocation of the Cherokee people from their ancestral homeland in the southeast to the western territory that is now Oklahoma. Smith, a historian and documentary filmmaker, seeks to elevate the legacies of Elias Boudinot, his cousin John Ridge and Ridge’s father, Major Ridge–the three native leaders who signed the “Treaty of New Echota,” a document that surrendered the Cherokee homeland in exchange for financial and other considerations for the tribe. The three were later assassinated in the post-Trail atmosphere of rage and recrimination.

An American Betrayal explains how, once Boudinot and the Ridges recognized that the expanding United States was determined to have Cherokee land one way or the other, they negotiated in good faith on behalf of the tribe even as the recognized Cherokee leader, Chief John Ross, remained determined to hang onto the land and the Cherokee’s right to live as they pleased. Smith points out that, though later generations romanticized Ross’s holding out, had Ross seen the writing on the wall and joined the Treaty Party, many thousands of Cherokee lost on the Trail might have been saved. That grim realism flows throughout this very readable history and challenges the reader to confront the impossible situation of all the Cherokee leaders: How do you do right when every possible choice is wrong? —Cherie Ann Parker, freelance journalist and book critic


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