Our family is blessed with Cherokee ancestors on both sides. Recently, while researching these ancestors, this book popped up in my queue, and I dived into it. An Undisturbed Peace explores not only the so-called Indian Removal Act, but other minority groups on the fringes of society in the early history of the United States.
Abrahan (Abe) Bento Sassaporta Naggar immigrates to the United States from East London. A Jew searching for new opportunity in America, he comes to work for his uncle Isadore Sassaporta. Isadore oversees a large and successful troupe of traveling salesmen in the southern states. Abe winters at Isadore’s camp in North Carolina and goes on the road during the spring, summer, and fall.
While out riding his circuit, Abe meets and falls in love with Dark Water. The beautiful and mysterious daughter of a powerful Cherokee chief, she lives in solitude in the hills of North Carolina. But, Dark Water loves another man, the exiled slave Jacob. Eventually their three lives become forever entwined as the Cherokee are forced from their homes on the Trail of Tears.
An Undisturbed Peace depicts the tragic reality of the Trail of Tears and the corruption involved in the planning and logistics. Supplies meant for the Cherokee (and other “relocated” Native Americans) were taken by soldiers and others involved in overseeing the relocation. They were held in crowded and filthy conditions resulting in hundreds of deaths. Glickman compares and contrasts the heady and intoxicating notion of this land of opportunity with the sad reality of the marginalized. Consider this passage: “This country, he thought. So rich it opens one’s eyes to boundless ambition and blinds them to the misfortunes of others.”
This book immediately pulled me in. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. Both haunting and beautiful, it left me brooding for days. As I looked among the names of my Cherokee ancestors, I wondered what their lives had been like. In fact, this book prompted an ongoing search for information. I still spend hours looking for traces of these family members and trying to piece together their lives.
Even if you don’t have a connection to the Cherokee, Jewish settlers, or slavery, I think anyone interested in American history will enjoy this book. Highly recommended.
But will my mom like it? Definitely.
Book: An Undisturbed Peace (Advanced Readers Copy)
Author: Mary Glickman
Date Published: 2/2/16
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
Source: Net Galley