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Nominated for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award
Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize and the Ray Allen Billington Prize
In 1704 a French and Indian war party descended on the village of Deerfield, Massachusetts, abducting an eminent Puritan minister and his children. Although John Williams and most of his family would eventually be released, his daughter Eunice stayed with her captors, despite intense negotiations and pleas from her family. She eventually lost her ability to speak English, was converted to Catholicism by French Jesuits, and married a Mohawk at the age of 16, and continued to live in her Indian village until her death.
Demos uses this incident as a window unto the early history of North America, where French, English, and Indians faced one another across a gulf of culture and belief—and sometimes crossed over. The Unredeemed Captive is the story of the contest of cultures in Colonial America, revealing much about the Puritans, the French, and the Native Americans of that time, as it raises compelling issues about race, gender, and identity.
“A masterpiece . . . recovering for us the poignant story of lives and families shattered and then painfully knitted together again in the complex cultural encounters between English, French, and Mohawk peoples in eighteenth-century America. There is nothing quite like it in our literature. It is a stunning achievement that should change forever the way we write and tell stories about the American past.” —William Cronon