Book Review: Covered with Night

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America by Nicole Eustace

I picked up this book from the library because I had the honor to attend the author, Nicole Eustace’s, #antiracistbookfest session in late April and was intrigued by what she said about her book throughout that session.

Eustace’s research was meticulous and thorough thanks to a happy happenstance that the ‘secretary’ taking notes throughout this period was committed (for his own reasons) to keeping precise records detailing the particulars of the who, what, where, and how’s surrounding these events. Eustace documents and analyzes the historical records of a murder, trial, punishment, and restoration of a community in Pennsylvania in the 1700’s. Two English brothers murder an indigenous man and the drama that plays out illuminates the stark differences in ideas of ‘crime and punishment’ between the English settlers and the indigenous people affected by these events. 

Through her research and examination of the historical records, Eustace illuminates both the English and Indigenous understandings of ‘justice’ and how those ideals determine the attitudes, actions, and understandings of people involved in this tragedy. She highlights the contrast between ‘punitive justice’ and ‘restorative justice’ and how difficult it is for individuals to fully comprehend another’s view when enmeshed in one’s own point-of-view. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical examination of ‘what is justice?’ and ‘how is justice best served?’ especially given our current debates on the merits (lack thereof) of the criminal justice system in America. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to read history or is interested in more fully understanding differing ideas of ‘justice.’ This book is well worth your time.

Read on my friends!

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