White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America by Fintan O’Toole - review by Raymond Seitz

Raymond Seitz

The Original Action Man

White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America


Faber & Faber 320pp £20

Baron Jean-Armand de Dieskau, commander of the combined French, Canadian and Indian forces, was hit three times in the legs and once in the hip, and he crawled through the New York thicket to the shelter of a tree. In the confusion of the forest battle that raged on the southern shoreline of Lake George, he was abandoned to his fate. That fate could have been pretty grisly. Had Dieskau been found by one of the Mohawks who fought with the British forces on that September day in 1755, he surely would have been dispatched and scalped.

Instead, Dieskau was discovered by American militiamen and carried to the tent of their commander, William Johnson. Johnson, too, had been severely wounded in the fight, but he insisted that his medical officers treat the Baron’s wounds first, a beau geste which could only have happened between European adversaries in

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