White Savage

Fintan O’Toole

White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America by Fintan O’Toole ‘Tells the astonishing story of Sir William Johnson . . . Hero, adventurer, servant of the crown, Irishman, lover – Johnson was all of these.’ (Stella Tillyard)

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A dramatic, exciting and tragic book about the Irish fur trapper who held the fate of America and the British Empire in his hands.

William Johnson began life as a poor Irish Catholic peasant. After converting to Protestantism, he emigrated to America where he became the leading fur trader in the British colony and one of its richest men. He also ‘went native,’ marrying an Indian woman and adopting the religion of her tribe, the Iroquois. When war broke out between the French and English – what we now know as the 7 Years War, the first world war in history – Johnson held the fate of the British Empire in his hands. If the Indians fought with the French, the British were doomed.

He ensured that the Indians remained neutral or sided with the British. But he also made them promises – only to see all his assurances broken by his fellow whites and by the imperial authorities in London . . .


Fintan O’Toole is one of Ireland’s most respected and controversial political and cultural commentators, and an acclaimed biographer and critic. His books include White Savage, A Traitor’s Kiss, Meanwhile Back at the Ranch, the number one bestseller Ship of Fools, which Terry Eagleton called ‘a brilliant polemic’, and its sequel Enough is Enough. He lives in Dublin and is a…

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