Utopian Legacies – A History of Conquest and Oppression in the Western World

John C. Mohawk

A gripping narrative by Mohawk examines Western history in light of patterns of utopian thinking rationalizing war, subjugation, genocide, slavery and conquest. Mohawk is Seneca from Cattaraugus, New York and an Associate Professor of History at the State University of New York.

status Copy #1 (508): in
genre History ยป Native American History
publisher Clearlight
publish date 2000
popularity checked out 3 time(s)


  • By Alexander Chadsey -

    I don’t often read history texts cover-to-cover, but was compelled to completely ford this one. Within the relatively short format of this book (287 pages) J.C. Mohawk lends you his lens for seeing the liminal facets of Western history that have been obscured and ‘forgotten’ by the dominant culture. The bulk of the text is concerned with dissecting the obsession in Western thought with the ‘pursuit of the ideal,’ wherein people believe that “all reasonable human beings who have access to an adequate base of information will pursue an identical concept of what is ‘ideal’ or ‘good'” (Mohawk, p.1).

    Starting with tribal, then Helenistic cultures,working through the eras to the present, Mohawk points out the distinct movements that significantly altered the beliefs of civilizations on a historical scale. He categorizes these movements into two broad categories used throughout the text: utopian ideologies and revitalization movements. Much of the book is a reexamination of familiar historical events seen through these two filters, sifting out the agrandizement and preconceived notions that justified great and terrible things throughout the development of the culture we now occupy.

    While the biggest limitation to this book is its short length and inability to delve to deeply into any one movement, it succeeds in piqueing the reader’s interest in examining these formative events (and one’s own place in the dominant culture) with a much more critical eye.

    [P.s. if you teach an introductory history class, this would be a great text to incorporate into your curriculum ๐Ÿ™‚ ]

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