The Warrior and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation by Peter Cozzens - review by Frank McLynn

Frank McLynn

Blazing Comet Falls to Earth

The Warrior and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation


Atlantic Books 537pp £25 order from our bookshop

Tecumseh (1768–1813), a Shawnee warrior whose name has been variously rendered as ‘shooting star’, ‘blazing comet’ and ‘panther across the sky’, was by many criteria the most powerful and significant of all the Native American chiefs who opposed the relentless march across the North American continent of European settlers seeking to fulfil their ‘manifest destiny’ during the 19th century. To give just one example, at the height of his power he was able to muster twice the numbers Crazy Horse, Gall and Sitting Bull later commanded at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. Highly intelligent, a fluent speaker of English and a close friend of a white Kentuckian, James Galloway, Tecumseh was a veritable fount of caustic asides, which he directed at expansionist whites. ‘Sell a country?’ he once said. ‘Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth? Did not the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children? How can we have confidence in white people?’

The problems Tecumseh faced can be briefly stated. The United States from the late 18th century wished to expand westwards, to the approximate longitude of modern Chicago, both to provide territory for its expanding population and to obtain access to the Mississippi River and New Orleans via the Ohio River,

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

The Art of Darkness

Cambridge, Shakespeare

Follow Literary Review on Twitter