When The Mississippi Ran Backwards

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

When the Mississippi Ran Backwards: Empire, Intrigue, Murder, and the New Madrid Earthquakes was written by Jay Feldman. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Feldman was a part of a band during the time he attended Brooklyn College around 1963. Earned his Bachelor of Arts in speech and theater; moving from New York to California Feldman is a big supporter of free speech at the time and involved himself in a movement that had intentions of making change. Feldman then received his Master and worked towards completing his doctorate. Soon after, he began his work of writing in 1980. Feldman has written three other books and has a couple of articles appearing major companies such as New York Times and a couple of others.

The book, “When the Mississippi ran backwards”, implements tons of twists that include murder of hard working slaves, trade, war, settlements between rivals, and territory being seized. Prominent historical figures include president Madison, Alexander Hamilton, George Morgan, Tecumseh, Andrew Jackson, and many more. The chapter I have been assigned to review is chapter thirteen, The Field of Slaughter. The uniqueness of the book shows how brutal and greedy people are, it is all a competition between who can kill the most and how much land is obtained within the process. What I like about the book is that it gives us behind the scenes of our history; the minor details that are overlooked when educating students in school.

This is probably the first book I have read that had such great detail with the violence involved, the images my mind made up is something a comic book would probably illustrate. Feldman has found a way to put a vast majority of history into a collage that fits all the pieces perfectly together as if it were to be a puzzle. Each piece has its own story to tell but it has such importance that it is woven as a whole. In the beginning of the book I recall an Indian chief, Tecumseh, delivering a speech for his brothers as a reminder that caucasian men are not their allies. Tecumseh wanted his men to acknowledge the damage, suffering, and loss they have experienced due to inconsiderate people who plan on taking what does not belong to them. Tecumseh wanted to reassure his people that his prophecy, in this case the earthquake, will forever make an impact on everyone’s lives. Furthermore, the chapter includes the Lewis brothers, also known as Thomas Jefferson’s nephews, who for unclear reasons brutally murdered a young seventeen year old boy. This case did not go unnoticed as the earthquake somehow unveiled the true monsters the Lewis brothers were. Not only did the earthquake affected the lives of the Lewis brothers, but it has affected lives all along the area. The series of earthquakes during this time has lead up to the expansion of our nation, corruption, failure, success, fear, loss, and power. What I got from reading the book I had sense that the author does not want the reader to be afraid of learning what history was like. It is a way to open our eyes as to how hard living was in the past. The brutality, harsh environment, war for land/territory, the discovery, and the prosperity is exactly what makes us a nation today; a way to use our past as a guide to make out what is right from wrong. Learning our mistakes and reassuring ourselves should give us the desire to improve our motives in the right direction not reverting to those vicious ways.

The earliest period that was mentioned in the book was around the 1790s to the 19th century. The locations I found in the story include as follows: Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Florida, and Illinois. I find it interesting how all theses events fall into play after a series of earthquakes occur; almost as if there was a deeper meaning behind the natural disasters. Chapter thirteen, The field of slaughter, is about the sacrifices men made in order for their country, America or British, to establish dominance during the war of 1812. The final battle conducted by Andrew Jackson who had a strong desire to defeat the British has distinguished American independence from them. The British no longer had the capability of claiming any territory that runs below the Canadian border. This war, Battle of New Orleans, now being successful for the Americans establishes the path towards the westward expansion, what we presently know now as the Manifest Destiny. Though history is full of cruelty and savage ways, the historical significance of The field of slaughter conveys the growth of America and its well fought territory through numerous loss of soldiers. In conclusion, the book was quite interesting, though I wish I enjoyed history more than I do now to fully understand the simpler details that Feldman integrated in the book. The murder was what most intrigued me, not that it makes me happy to read about it but the idea that people will do anything to get what they want is fascinating to think about.

The capability that mankind has to create such chaos and destruction is hard to grasp, since nowadays life has structure under the law and though some people have the tendency to break the law it is not something that is within the norm of doing so. We currently live in a society that frowns upon this kind of behavior; it is something that requires punishment when caught in the act. Though back then crime was something that was normal to do which usually were never thought out. This book opens my eyes to how humans can create this destruction if and when they had the opportunity to do so. I did find myself confused at times but I blame myself for not making connections with each part of the book. I would definitely recommend this book to someone that loves history and is completely okay with reading the gore and violence within the story. It will be great for someone that understands history and has the urge to make a connection with the past and present of today.

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