38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier’s End

Scott W. Berg. Pantheon, $27.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-307-37724-1
Berg, a teacher of writing and literature at George Mason University, turns his attention from Pierre L’Enfant, planner of Washington, D.C. (Grand Avenues), to the Dakota War of 1862 in a gripping narrative of this little-known conflict and a careful exploration of the relationships between events of the Civil War and America’s expansion west. Berg illuminates the growing clashes between whites and Indians and reveals the contradictory stances taken by such participants as Dakota chief Little Crow, a white woman Little Crow had taken as a hostage, an Episcopalian bishop, army officers, and political leaders—including Abraham Lincoln. The first military commission used in the Indian wars sentenced 303 warriors to death after hearings that were held without defense representation and usually lasted only a few minutes. Lincoln stayed most of the executions, rejecting the commission’s criterion that “any armed resistance to white encroachment was worthy of death.” Nevertheless, in America’s largest mass execution, 38 Indians were hanged from a single scaffold in December 1862. Although the reader knows the eventual outcome of these battles—near extermination of Indian tribes and cultures—Berg maintains suspense about individual fates to round out this nuanced study of a complex period. B&w illus. Agent: Eric Lupfer, WME. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2012
Release date: 12/04/2012
Paperback - 363 pages - 978-0-307-38913-8
Open Ebook - 298 pages - 978-0-307-90739-4
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