Review of One Real American: They Life of Ely S. Parker, Seneca Sachem and Civil War General

One Real American: The Life of Ely S. Parker, Seneca Sachem and Civil War General
by Joseph Bruchac
Middle School    Abrams    248 pp.    g
10/20    978-1-4197-4657-4    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-64700-163-6    $15.54

Ely (“pronounced, he always said, to rhyme with freely”) Samuel Parker was “a man who more than any other walked with honor in two worlds.” The boy with the Seneca name Ha-sa-no-an-da was born on the Buffalo Creek Reservation in Upstate New York in 1828, attended “English” schools, and would come to occupy “a unique and special place in American history.” When Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House in 1865, it was Brevet Brigadier General Parker, then Ulysses S. Grant’s personal secretary, who wrote the official terms of surrender. In a long life of public service, Ely Parker was a major voice of the Iroquois Confederacy, an engineer for the Genesee Valley Canal, a commissioner for Indian Affairs, and a successful Wall Street investor. Bruchac relates Parker’s story clearly, honoring the dual context within which Parker lived, and placing his life within the context of his times, including the struggles of Native Americans to preserve their lands, the Civil War, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and Reconstruction. Numerous archival photographs, paintings, and a map are used to good effect, and back matter includes a timeline, source notes, bibliography, and notes on the use of Native names throughout the volume.

From the January/February 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider
Dean Schneider teaches seventh and eighth grades at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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