This war has been the subject of a large body of historical inquiry, dating back to Benjamin Church’s firsthand account of his role in the conflict, first published in 1716.  In the twentieth century, the first book to have profound impact on historians’ perception of the war was Douglas Leach’s Flintlock and Tomahawk.  This work took a more traditional approach to the war, and constructs a narrative mostly from the records left behind by the victorious colonists.  The generation of historians to come after Leach made a conscious attempt to retell the story of the early years of colonization in America.  Francis Jennings’ The Invasion of America is one such work that challenges the traditional model that confirmed what he calls “the invasion of Indian society by Europeans.”[1]  Russell Bourne’s The Red King’s Rebellion also made a large contribution to the body of work on King Philip’s War.  First published in 1990, this book tried to reconcile the earlier efforts of people like Leach with the revisionists who revolutionized the ways in which the past was investigated.  One of Bourne’s most intriguing arguments is that before the war, the Indians and colonists lived in a state of “peculiar social harmony.”[2]

In 1998, Jill Lepore first introduced King Philip’s War as a study of memory in her book The Name of War.  In it, she argued that the facts of what happened in 1675-76 were not as important as understanding the ways in which people who have written about this war have represented it through time.  Her argument was ultimately national in scope; she showed that King Philip’s War came up in national discussions about Indian affairs time and time again, and that people often have looked to it when discussing similar issues in more recent times.  When specifically talking about the language of the documents relating to the war, she shows how white people won the war of words that she argues was more essential than the battles themselves.  She goes on to construct a picture of nineteenth century America where King Philip’s War is repeatedly referenced when discussing other issues involving Native Americans.  This book’s most successful achievement is that it shows that King Philip’s War had a legacy that was more important than the history of the war itself.  The ways in which people have remembered the war have so much to teach historians.

Eric Schultz and Michael Tougias first published their own study of memory and King Philip’s War in 1999.  Entitled King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict, this book attempted to analyze the war by and looking at the physical memorials erected around New England to commemorate the war.  Across the region, examining at the ways in which different towns chose to memorialize Metacom and his war allowed them to think about what the war meant at each point in time when the memorial was erected.  The book consciously serves as both a history of the war and a map of its major conflicts, because these sites are the places where memorials survive.  The goals of this work are not as explicit as in Lepore’s book, but the authors imply the importance of King Philip’s War by demonstrating how many memorials have been erected to honor its many battles across New England.  As an historical travel guide, this study functions as a valuable tool for looking at history and memory side by side.

[1] Francis Jennings, The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest (New York: Norton, 1976), v.

[2] Russell Bourne, The Red King's Rebellion: Racial Politics in New England,1675-1677 (New York: Atheneum, 1990), xiv.