A History of the Indians of the United States

July 1, 1985

The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Summer 1985, Volume 31, Number 3
Thomas Scharf, Managing Editor

Book Notes

A History of the Indians of the United States. By Angie Debo. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970. Illustrations. Maps. Bibliography. Index. 450 Pages. $18.95 Hardcover. $12.95 Paper.

The University of Oklahoma Press has just issued the seventh printing of Debo’s History of the Indians of the United States. A generally sound overview from the Press’ Civilization of American Indian Series, the book covers American Indians from life in their homeland before the whites, through Native conflicts with the whites. The book is heavily weighted toward the Plains Indians, with inadequate coverage of Southwest or Northwest Indians; it has virtually no mention of the Indians of the San Diego region. It is also not very strong on the most recent fifty years of the Indian experience. Debo’s book is, nonetheless, useful for quick reference or an overview of the Indian experience drawn with broad strokes.

Audubon’s Western Journal, 1849-IS50. By John Woodhouse Audubon. Introduction by Frank Heywood Hodder. Reprint Edition. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1984. Maps. Illustrations. Appendix. Index. 254 Pages. $22.50 Hardback. $8.50 Paperback. On 2 November 1849, John Woodhouse Audubon wrote: “At sundown we reached the Mission of San Diego, once evidently beautiful and comfortable; its gardens still contain many palms, olives and grapes, and no doubt the plain below, when irrigated, must have been most productive … as the last reflection of sunlight tipped the waves of the Pacific Ocean with gold, and the sullen roar of the breakers borne in on the last of the sea breeze for the day came to my ears, tired and sad, I sat on the tiled edge of the long piazza leaning against one of the brick pillars in a most melancholy mood.” Such sentiments are typical of the writing of Audubon (younger son of the more famed ornithologist) in his account of an expedition of young men who travelled from New York to Texas, Mexico, Yuma, San Diego and north to the Gold Fields. Containing extensive descriptions of many of the things the expedition saw, the Joumal has long been a basic source for the time and places covered. For San Diego history it is especially useful for the description of the trip from Yuma across the desert and through the backcountry to San Diego. The University of Arizona has reproduced photographically the original 1906 edition, with a few minor corrections, some additional notes, sketches and maps. Available in both library edition and inexpensive paperback, this valuable source is now again accessible to scholars and general readers.