Great Reviews for Medicine Bags and Dog Tags
One was in Indian Country Today by a historical fiction writer. That was rather strange, both praising it as "groundbreaking" and then strongly criticizing it for not having enough about New England Indian veterans. Seemingly he overlooked the pages on one very famous veteran, William Apess, along with a number of other New England Indian veterans scattered throughout the book. Even a glance at the table of contents or index would have given him what he wanted. But I guess there's not much one can do except to hope that in the future Indian Country Today hires reviewers who actually read the whole book, not just skim it.
The second review come the book editor of Native Peoples magazine, Debra Utacia Krol, who is Salinan and Essalen. It was reviewed together with From Warriors to Soldiers, itself a fine book from Gary Robinson and Phil Lucas. I was interviewed along with Robinson on a radio show broadcasting out of New Mexico. I was still working in Indonesia as a Fulbright Scholar at the time, so unfortunately the radio show got cut short by technical difficulties.
Krol's review started off with summaries of both books for four paragraphs, and ends with these nice words of praise.
"These two books should be in the hands of not only Native but non-Indians veterans and service groups, in order to better understand why we serve, fight, and die in the service of the United States, and how best to honor Native soldiers and veterans."
The third review come from a fellow historian who has also written on Native veterans, Thomas Britten. Britten wrote American Indian Veterans of World War One and teaches at the University of Texas at Brownsville. He reviewed the book for the scholarly journal Great Plains Quarterly. After summarizing the book for three paragraphs, Britten offers some nice words as well.
"Although he dismisses previous scholarship as biased and misinformed, Carroll relies almost exclusuvely on secondary sources and oral histories. An interesting and provocative book, Medicine Bags and Dog Tags succeeds in providing an Indian perspective on military service and its effects on cultural renewal and perseverance."
Britten certainly shows himself to be a consummate professional. I criticized him and his own book for relying too much on government documents and not providing enough Native views, and did so in the very book he reviewed. There is a slight inaccuracy in his review. I criticized some previous studies as biased. I praised two very good books by Jere Franco and Tom Holm, namely Crossing the Pond and Strong Hearts Wounded Souls.
I should also report that the book has been a huge success. It has sold about three and a half times the number that academic books usually sell. The last check I did showed it available in at least four hundred libraries, including every military academy. My sister even saw it for sale at the VA Hospital gift shop in Phoenix. I've also gotten some nice emails from people complimenting me and thanking me for writing it.