In Salon, Andrew O'Hehir interviews John Mack Faragher, author of A Great and Noble Scheme. I haven't read the book yet, but it sounds like it's a fascinating history of the British empire's assault on the Acadians—French Canadian settlers who were friendly with the Indians and neutral in the war between France and Britain, and who were the ancestors of today's Cajuns.
From the interview:
I got very interested in the Seven Years' War because so many of the issues it raises seem to engage the same dilemmas that have preoccupied the late 20th century. Post-colonial problems. The questions of settlements and settler societies; the response of native people, which at the time was characterized as terrorism. Military cum political operations, like the one against the Acadians, or even more dramatic ones, like the distribution of smallpox-infected blankets [among the Indians] by Lord Jeffrey Amherst, that might have genocidal implications.
All these are late 20th century concepts, of course, or at least 20th century concepts. So the project for me was to try to use those concepts and see what is revealed about historical actions 200 years ago, when they would not have recognized those concepts. It's not an exercise in classification nor, I hope, an exercise in trying to make moral judgments. Rather, if a historian uses these concepts to look back at this story, does it suggest something more than it would have otherwise?
For some interesting reader responses, go here.