Born in 1768 in Ohio, Tecumseh was well liked by his peers, even as a child. When his father was killed in battle with white men, his brother Chiksika took Tecumseh under his wing and taught him the ways of the Shawnee warriors. The two remained close until Chiksika’s death, also in battle with white men.

As Tecumseh came of age, changes were rapidly taking place in the Shawnee culture. The European lifestyle brought by the white settlers was encroaching upon the Indians. Thus the Indians slowly adopted bits and pieces of the white man\'s culture. Not all of these lifestyle changes had ill effects upon the Indians. But things such as European diseases that the tribal medicine men were unable to cure took their toll upon the Indians. Materialism was another problem the Indians, who were in the past a communal people, had to deal with. The frontiersmen also introduced the Indians to whiskey, which paved the way for alcoholism amongst the tribes’ people.

Lalawethika, Tecumseh\'s "ne\'er do well" younger brother wasn\'t well liked. He never developed the skills of a warrior that Tecumseh possessed, and was a poor provider for his family. He was a hardened alcoholic by his mid-twenties. After a failed attempt at being a shaman, Lalawethika went into a deep trance one night. It was so deep in fact that his wife and neighbors thought he was dead. When he awoke he claimed that the Master of Life had chosen him to return and lead the Indians to salvation through his new religion.

Now known as Tenskwatwa, or more commonly in the book as the Prophet, he began to spread his new religion. The religion spread quickly and soon had many followers, but by 1809, following the Treaty of Fort Wayne, Tecumseh stepped from the shadow of the Prophet and became the main leader of the Indian movement.

Being a war chief however, Tecumseh believed that "only assertive political and military leadership could protect the Indian land base."

After a meeting with William Henry Harrison, one of Tecumseh\'s greatest adversaries, Tecumseh traveled to the south to meet with Indian leaders. Overall, he had little success in his talks with the southern tribes.

During Tecumseh\'s travels to the south, Harrison took advantage of his absence and decided to attack Prophetstown, the town where most of Tecumseh\'s followers lived. In the ensuing battle, The Battle of Tippecanoe, the Prophet led the Indians in a major defeat. This was a major blow to the Indian movement and many of the followers blamed the Prophet. As such, a lot of them returned to their homes.

After securing provisions from the British in Canada, Tecumseh set out to Indiana and Illinois where he assured the tribesmen of the British provisions and that in the Spring there would be war with the Long Knives.

There were a few small battles leading up to the Battle of Thames, but the Battle of Thames is important because this is where Tecumseh was mortally wounded. Like his father and brother before him, Tecumseh died fighting the white men. The Indian movement died with Tecumseh.

Following the chapter of the death of Tecumseh, Edmunds gives his opinion of Tecumseh and even discredits other books about the Shawnee by pointing out inaccuracies.

"Making friends with the white men had never been easy."

This quote by R. David Edmunds sums up the main theme of Tecumseh and the Quest for Indian Leadership. Throughout the 225 pages, Edmunds chronicles the life of Tecumseh, as he ascends to the rank of a Shawnee war chief. He and his people struggle with white men over the rights to land long inhabited by the Indians.

I thought Edmunds opened the book quite well with a brief history of the Shawnees. It helped put things in perspective for the events that unfold throughout the book. Edmunds also makes his first reference to the "Long Knives" in the first chapter. It\'s fairly obvious who the Long Knives are, but he never explains why they call the settlers that. This is one example of the author\'s lack of explaining things well enough. Sometimes he assumes the readers’ knowledge is more than what it might actually be.

Personally, I would like to have known more about Tecumseh\'s son. Edmunds makes it known that Indian families were generally close knit and communal.