John Phillip Reid's latest book, A Better Kind of Hatchet: Law, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Cherokee Nation during the Early Years of European Contact, is ostensibly a study of trade relations between South Carolina and the Cherokee Indians during the first third of the eighteenth century. But taken in conjunction with his earlier book, A Law of Blood: The Primitive Law of the Cherokee Nation, the new book is, in truth, much more. At the deepest level, Reid's achievement in the two books is to suggest to white Americans, first, some ways in which our understanding of other more "primitive" peoples with whom we have come into contact has been limited; second, the wounds sustained by those other peoples as a result; and third, how the limitations upon our understanding of other cultures are simultaneously limitations upon our understanding of our own.
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