The good folks at Grove Publishing/Atlantic Monthly Press sent me a review copy of Brian Hicks’ Toward the Setting Sun. I studied Cherokee history in graduate school so I was excited to see a new book on Cherokee removal. Brian Hicks is a journalist for the Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, so as an historian I was curious to see how the book would read.
I was a couple of chapters into the book when the thought struck me, “Hicks…huh…I wonder if there is any connection to Hicks that he was writing about (Charles and William).” There was something different about the book and I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Yes, it wasn’t quite academic history – but that was not it. True, it was a journalist who wrote it – but that was not it. Finally I skipped to the “Notes and Sources” and I had my answer, Brian Hicks was a local! By that I mean that he grew up in Cleveland, Tennessee. Cleveland is about 30 miles north of Chattanooga, TN which was originally Ross’ Landing. Right in the heart of the old Cherokee Nation. Undoubtably, Hicks was familiar with the area and I believe that his connection to the places talked about in the book helps him write about the events with an intimacy that an outsider cannot.
So about the book. Hicks has produced an excellent work on Cherokee removal. The book is readable for both historian and non-historian alike. He weaves the story without being preachy, demonstrates Jackson’s evilness without being judgemental, and paints both the Ross’ and the Ridge factions with a neutral eye. I highly recommend Toward the Setting Sun.