Peter Cozzens is the author of seventeen critically acclaimed books on the American Civil War and the American West. Cozzens also is a recently retired Foreign Service Officer, United States Department of State.
His newest book, The Earth is Weeping: The Indian Wars for the American West was published by Alfred A. Knopf in October 2016. It is the recipient of the 2017 Gilder Lehrman Military History Prize for the best book on the subject published in the English language in 2016, and of the Caroline Bancroft Prize in American History. Now in its seventh hardcover printing, The Earth is Weeping made several Best Books lists, including the London Time, Seattle Times, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Amazon, and Newsday. It also was a Smithsonian Top History Book of the year. It has been reprinted in several languages.
Cozzens' next book Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation will be published by Knopf in early 2020.
All of Cozzens' books have been selections of the Book of the Month Club, History Book Club, and/or the Military Book Club. Cozzens’ This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga and The Shipwreck of Their Hopes: The Battles for Chattanooga were both Main Selections of the History Book Club and were chosen by Civil War Magazine as two of the 100 greatest works ever written on the conflict.
The History Book Club called his five-volume Eyewitnesses to the Indian Wars "the definitive resource on the military struggle for the American West."
Cozzens's Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign was a Choice "Outstanding Academic Title" for 2009.
He was a frequent contributor to the New York Times "Disunion" series, and has written for America's Civil War, Civil War Times Illustrated, MHQ, the Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, BBC World Histories, and Cowboys & Indians, among other publications.
In 2002 Cozzens received the American Foreign Service Association’s highest award, given annually to one Foreign Service Officer for exemplary moral courage, integrity, and creative dissent.
Cozzens is a member of the Advisory Council of the Lincoln Prize and of the Literary Society of Washington DC.
Cozzens and his wife Antonia reside in Kensington, Maryland.
Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation
The first biography of the great Shawnee leader in more than twenty years, and the first to make clear that his misunderstood younger brother, Tenskwatawa, was an equal partner in the last great pan-Indian alliance against the United States.
Until the Americans killed Tecumseh in 1813, he and his brother Tenskwatawa were the co-architects of the broadest pan-Indian confederation in United States history. In previous accounts of Tecumseh’s life, Tenskwatawa has been dismissed as a talentless charlatan and a drunk. But award-winning historian Peter Cozzens now shows us that while Tecumseh was a brilliant diplomat and war leader–admired by the same white Americans he opposed–it was Tenskwatawa, called the “Shawnee Prophet,” who created a vital doctrine of religious and cultural revitalization that unified the disparate tribes of the Old Northwest. Detailed research of Native American society and customs provides a window into a world often erased from history books and reveals how both men came to power in different but no less important ways.
Cozzens brings us to the forefront of the chaos and violence that characterized the young American Republic, when settlers spilled across the Appalachians to bloody effect in their haste to exploit lands won from the British in the War of Independence, disregarding their rightful Indian owners. Tecumseh and the Prophet presents the untold story of the Shawnee brothers who retaliated against this threat–the two most significant siblings in Native American history, who, Cozzens helps us understand, should be writ large in the annals of America.
“In 1768, the year of Tecumseh’s birth, 60,000 Native Americans in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley stood against a white colonial population of two million. As settlers crested the Appalachians, this imbalance only got worse. Against this epic backdrop, Peter Cozzens weaves his marvelous tale of the two Shawnee brothers who stood against the storm. Tecumseh and the Prophet tells a story of nation-defining events and larger-than-life leaders, and Cozzens’ nuanced portrait stands as one of the best pieces of Native American history I have read.”
—S. C. Gwynne, author of New York Times best-sellers Empire of the Summer Moon, and Rebel Yell
“An insightful, unflinching portrayal of the remarkable siblings who came closer to altering the course of American history than any other Indian leaders.”
–Professor H.W. Brands, author of The Zealot and the Emancipator and Heirs of the Founders
“Cozzens… shows his skill at revealing the social and daily realities of late 18th- and early 19th-century life, including wonderfully vivid descriptions of pioneer conditions and Algonquin villages… A long overdue non-fiction account. Tecumseh’s life and the wider struggle for the Great Lakes and Ohio River valley now has a current, solid work by an accomplished author.”
—Library Journal, starred
“An enthralling, deeply researched dual biography of Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his younger brother… Cozzens’s cinematic narrative is steeped in Native American culture and laced with vivid battle scenes and character sketches. American history buffs will gain a new appreciation for what these resistance leaders accomplished.”
“Comprehensive… Blending historical fact with solid storytelling, Cozzens delivers a nuanced study of the great warrior and his times.”
The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West (Knopf)October 2016
Awards and Recognition
- Winner of the 2017 Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History
- Winner of the 2017 Caroline Bancroft Prize in American History
- Smithsonian Magazine Top History Book of 2016
- London Times 2017 History Book of the Year