In The Life of William Apess, Pequot Philip F. Gura details the life of William Apess, the nineteenth-century Pequot minister, writer, and activist for Native rights. Gura draws heavily on Apess’s writings, as well as on a diverse collection of primary sources, to situate his life and work in the context of early American history.

The book begins at the end—with Apess’s death in 1839 at the age of forty-one—and then proceeds chronologically from his birth and childhood in Massachusetts and Connecticut, respectively; through his work as a Methodist preacher, writer, and lecturer; to his death in New York City. Each of the eight chapters focuses on a major period in Apess’s life, including his conversion to Methodism, the writing and publication of his autobiography, and his activism with the Mashpees.

Apess was an extraordinary figure, but Gura demonstrates that he was also a man of his time. In his...

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