In 1675 Algonquian Indians all over southern New England rose up against the Puritan colonists with whom they had lived peacefully for several decades. The result was the bloodiest war in American history, a terrifying conflict in which the Puritans found themselves fighting with a cruelty they had only thought the natives capable of. By August 1676, when the severed head of the wampanoag leader, King Phillip, was displayed in Plymouth, thousands of Indian and English men, women and children were dead. More than half of the new towns in New England had been wiped out, and the settlers' sense of themselves as civilized people of God had been deeply shaken. By skillfully interpreting reactions to the war on both sides of the racial divide, historian Jill Lepore reveals the crucial role of the conflict played in shaping the colonists' and the Indians' ideas of themselves and of each other - ideas that have held sway for more than three centuries. More profoundly, she shows us that the lasting effects of war are felt not in how many lives are lost, but in how brutality is justified and how war is remembered.