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One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
Author: Jim Fergus
Publisher: Published February 15th 1999 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1998)
ISBN: 9780312199432
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial "Brides for Indians" program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians i One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial "Brides for Indians" program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man's world. Toward that end May and her friends embark upon the adventure of their lifetime. Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.

30 review for One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

  1. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Dear May Dodd, I received your letter of 20 January 1876, accompanied by portions of your journal, and, in short, I'm not falling for it. They sound like they were written sometime in the 1990s, and probably by a man. While I found many reasons to come to this conclusion, the biggest giveaways were your obsession with penis size and the fact that your signature was followed by an AOL e-mail address. Sincerely, Disgruntled Reader OK, that was a bit harsh and if for some reason Mr. Fergus is reading t Dear May Dodd, I received your letter of 20 January 1876, accompanied by portions of your journal, and, in short, I'm not falling for it. They sound like they were written sometime in the 1990s, and probably by a man. While I found many reasons to come to this conclusion, the biggest giveaways were your obsession with penis size and the fact that your signature was followed by an AOL e-mail address. Sincerely, Disgruntled Reader OK, that was a bit harsh and if for some reason Mr. Fergus is reading this review, I want to say to him: I didn't completely dislike "One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd," and I give you credit for trying to adopt the viewpoint of not just a woman, but a woman from more than a century ago. That took balls. Unfortunately for your readers, those balls weren't backed up by brains. While Fergus obviously did a lot of research to learn about the culture of the Cheyenne nation and other Indian tribes -- he even shows his work by giving us a bibliography -- he completely fails to transport his readers back to an earlier time. That's the most basic requirement of any historical novel. Few pages go by in which Fergus doesn't attribute to May Dodd words and ideas that would be completely foreign to any woman living in the 1870s -- even a woman as progressive as May is supposed to be. For most of the novel, May sounds less like a 19th century woman of any background or educational level, and more like a Volvo-driving Web designer from San Francisco who's on her way to pick up her daughter at soccer practice, has to drop her off at the ex-husband's for his weekend visitation, and then, before going to her newly purchased fixer-upper in the Mission District, plans to stop by the polling place to vote for Dianne Feinstein. Small examples: May repeatedly refers to another character as an "amateur ethnographer," describes herself as being "agnostic" when it comes to religion, characterizes herself as being as "big as a house" when pregnant, and says that a woman who ends her pregnancy "aborted" the baby. These are simply not words or ideas that any woman living in the 1870s would use, and especially not as casually as she does. This may sound like nitpicking, but there's never a point in the whole book in which even the most forgiving reader could honestly say to herself, "This can't possibly be a novel. He must have actually found May Dodd's lost journals from the 1870s." And yet that's what we the readers are apparently expected to do, at least according to Fergus's "Reading Group Gold" notes in the back of the edition I read. There are other annoyances too. Many of the characters are given cutesy names that reflect their personalities and interests. The woman who studies and paints birds is named, unsurprisingly, Helen Flight, while a self-important and prudish character is, naturally, Narcissa White, and a dainty Southern belle is, wait for it, Daisy Lovelace. And, aside from giving characters lines and viewpoints that feel anachronistic, Fergus also makes passing reference to things that simply didn't exist in the 1870s. Hey, Jim, there was no Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra in 1875. Even the city's earliest such orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, wasn't formed until 16 years later. (Thanks, Wikipedia.) If you're trying to really make us believe we're reading a recovered journal, this is not the way to do it. Why not just give the Indian chief a BlackBerry, and President Ulysses S. Grant a subscription to Us Weekly? All right, I've been nasty enough. There is a reason I gave "One Thousand White Women" two stars instead of one. Aside from the anachronisms, the book is reasonably well-written, and the story is compelling and relatively fast-paced. That makes up for some of the novel's faults. But you know what would have made the novel ten times better? Given that we're supposed to be reading the journals of a woman who's first diagnosed as insane, and then becomes a bride to an Indian chief under a secret government program, why come right out and reveal to your readers that she wasn't actually crazy and really did join a Cheyenne tribe? Why not leave it an open question, and let your readers decide for themselves whether the program was real or May Dodd was just nuts? That, perhaps, would make for a better novel. On a side note, it was interesting to read Fergus's novel right after finishing Daniel Defoe's "Moll Flanders," and less than a year after reading Larry McMurtry's "Telegraph Days." What do the three have in common? Each novel is told from a woman's point, was written by a man, and focuses on a woman who are far more liberated and self-directed than her female contemporaries. While McMurtry's book was not a lot better than Fergus's (though it was a lot more fun), neither of them should even be mentioned in the same sentence as "Moll Flanders." (Oops.) It's impossible to imagine either one being widely read almost three centuries from now, as Defoe's 1722 novel is today.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Author: I have this book I want to publish. Publisher: Okay, let me make sure it has what we are looking for in a book. After all, the bulk of your previous writing experience appears to be for an outdoors magazine. Correct? Author: Yes that is correct. Publisher: Okay, is your book an attempt to write from a woman’s point of view? Author: Yes! Publisher: Fantastic, do you have the slightest clue or insight into women’s thoughts or emotions? Author: Nope. Publisher: Great! Is your book riddled with wom Author: I have this book I want to publish. Publisher: Okay, let me make sure it has what we are looking for in a book. After all, the bulk of your previous writing experience appears to be for an outdoors magazine. Correct? Author: Yes that is correct. Publisher: Okay, is your book an attempt to write from a woman’s point of view? Author: Yes! Publisher: Fantastic, do you have the slightest clue or insight into women’s thoughts or emotions? Author: Nope. Publisher: Great! Is your book riddled with women being raped? Author: As a matter of fact, yes. Publisher: This is great! Do you have these rape victims getting all sad, depressed and shutting down emotionally and physically? Author: Why no! The protagonist gets raped for several years in a mental institution, then decides to participate in the Brides for Indians program, and is excited and not at all concerned about sleeping with other men along the way. She even gets raped in the Brides for Indians programs. In fact all the rape victims in my book bounce back with nary an emotional scratch. None of that “oh poor rape victim me” mentality in this book. Publisher: Wonderful, wonderful! We need more stories that tell women to suck up rape. Author: I couldn’t agree more. Publisher: Do you use the word “perforce” at least 10 times throughout the book? Author: Oh! Don’t you know it, I just learned that word and I think it makes me sound smart. Publisher: Alright, so far so good, one more question… Author: Hit me. Publisher: Do you assign a bunch of the main female characters flimsy ethinicities so you can write their dialogue in tired dialect and accents? Author: Oh hell yea! I have a southern belle, a German, two Irish chicks and a frenchy. All covered. Publisher: WE NEED TO GET THIS BOOK TO THE MASSES! Dear author, have you ever met a woman? Do you really think that we rebound from rape as quickly and easily as the women in your book? You are what is wrong with society. Stick to writing about kayaks and extreme snowboarding or whatever the heck it is you write about in your insulated little sportsman world. Oh, and one more thing, nobody used the word "pregnant" back then. You're an idiot.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Mary Dodd's crime was falling in love with a common man. After being committed to an insane asylum...she was given the opportunity to "escape" by enlisting in the BFI program. [Brides for Indians].... a secret government program. This program NEVER REALLY HAPPENED IN OUR HISTORY.....the idea was tossed around and tossed out. FOR DAMN GOOD REASONS!!! So... the MAJORITY of this book is FICTION. I read 98 pages --then skipped around reading - then jumped ahead and read the last 50 pages which includ Mary Dodd's crime was falling in love with a common man. After being committed to an insane asylum...she was given the opportunity to "escape" by enlisting in the BFI program. [Brides for Indians].... a secret government program. This program NEVER REALLY HAPPENED IN OUR HISTORY.....the idea was tossed around and tossed out. FOR DAMN GOOD REASONS!!! So... the MAJORITY of this book is FICTION. I read 98 pages --then skipped around reading - then jumped ahead and read the last 50 pages which included the Epilogue, and an interview with the author. I've decided to call it quits. I read enough. I was forcing myself too much to invest my time and heart. I had enough when our FICTIONAL Mary turned very red in the face. "Oh Captain, Mary asked in a whisper, "How could I refuse you"? GIFT OFFER: If anyone here on Goodreads -in the United States - wants to read this book - I'm happy to mail you my copy. It's still NEW. It was sent to me by St. Martin's Press.... but since I just wasn't really connecting with the writing & storytelling of this book - somebody else might. I'm happy to cover the postage - and send it to another reader who wants to give this book a better chance than I did. Many Thanks to St.Martin. I'm sorry I couldn't get into this book - but I appreciate your sending it to me. Thanks for all that you do to support authors and readers!!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hazel

    I like historical fiction. I appreciate writers who take the time to research their stories well. I like to think that I'm catching up on some of the history I missed as the same time as enjoying a good read. I like journals and memoirs. And I jump at the chance to see history from the perspective of those who are usually written out of the history books. So I was quite enthusiastic when I heard about this novel which is written in the form of the journal of a nineteenth-century Yankee woman liv I like historical fiction. I appreciate writers who take the time to research their stories well. I like to think that I'm catching up on some of the history I missed as the same time as enjoying a good read. I like journals and memoirs. And I jump at the chance to see history from the perspective of those who are usually written out of the history books. So I was quite enthusiastic when I heard about this novel which is written in the form of the journal of a nineteenth-century Yankee woman living among the Cheyenne. But it's not well written. Fergus may be a good journalist, and I can imagine him in his study, surrounded by charts showing the timeline of significant events of the period, trying to incorporate them into his story. But he's not much of a novelist, and he doesn't even begin to inhabit the voice of his protagonist. May Dodd is never convincing; not as a woman, not as a gently reared member of the upper class, not as the survivor of abduction and incarceration in a brutal insane asylum, not as a rape survivor. There's no depth to her emotions, her actions are incongrous and even her language seems stilted, and worse, anachronistic.The other characters are no better, a range of stereotypes from the alcoholic faded Southern belle to the Amazonian former slave. Jeez! I guess you can tell that I'm somewhat disappointed by this. I don't usually bother to say much about books I didn't like, but this one annoys me because it could have been so much better. I bet it was a best seller, too! Ah well.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chaybyrd

    First let me say, it seems among GR readers that this book stinks. And I get the criticism, I do. However, I have to say that I found this an enjoyable read. Yes, the voice of Ms. Dodd, our heroine, protagonist, would be feminist (well sort of pseudo feminist) - does sound more 20th Century and less like a believable 19th Century even 'modern' woman but honestly, it kind of made the book more readable to me. I have no interest in hearing a modern writer trying to trifle through old English in a First let me say, it seems among GR readers that this book stinks. And I get the criticism, I do. However, I have to say that I found this an enjoyable read. Yes, the voice of Ms. Dodd, our heroine, protagonist, would be feminist (well sort of pseudo feminist) - does sound more 20th Century and less like a believable 19th Century even 'modern' woman but honestly, it kind of made the book more readable to me. I have no interest in hearing a modern writer trying to trifle through old English in a book written in a journal format. The way it's constructed, this book would have been excruciating if our heroine pondered in her diary speaking like a languid Victorian bore. In addition, since the plot centers around an outlandish concept - One Thousand (19th Century) White Women would 'volunteer' i.e. live such miserable suffering yet comparatively privileged lives - that they would run to live amongst Native Americans - is kind of preposterous. Soooo given that liberty Jim Fergus took, I just decided to sit back and enjoy the ride. And I found it a fun ride. It's a pretty fast read, he tries to make her a strong, independent character and tries to tell a story that demonstrates the complex clashing of cultures. I appreciated the effort and although it's not the best historical fiction I've read, it was one of the most original concepts I have seen tackled.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This is somewhat erroneously in my "read" shelf. I did not finish reading it, so keep that in mind as far as this review goes. I applaud the author's project - historical fiction disguised as history proper (I tend to love things like that), it is a well-researched story told via the faux journals of a 19th-century white woman who went to live among the Cheyenne. My problem with this book is essentially that I did not ever buy the voice in which it is told - this problem has two tiers: First, it This is somewhat erroneously in my "read" shelf. I did not finish reading it, so keep that in mind as far as this review goes. I applaud the author's project - historical fiction disguised as history proper (I tend to love things like that), it is a well-researched story told via the faux journals of a 19th-century white woman who went to live among the Cheyenne. My problem with this book is essentially that I did not ever buy the voice in which it is told - this problem has two tiers: First, it is supposedly a 19th-century journal and the author tries to convey the 19th-century-ness by frequent use of vocabulary like "perforce", however what marks an actual primary source from a specific time period is not merely vocabulary but the nature of observation. That is, you know you're dealing with an historical document, often, not merely by how the author tells the story (what words he/she uses) but what he/she chooses to include in the story in the first place. I simply could never forget that I was reading a 21st-century person's somewhat inexpert attempt at what a 19th-century person would sound like in a personal journal and what they'd choose to include. Associated with this is tier two of my general dislike of this book. I could also not forget that I was not reading a woman's journal, but a man's idea of what a woman would write in her journal. Now, I applaud the author for attempting such a thing. I wish more men would try to crawl into the heads of women. I just don't think this author quite was up to the task. "A" for effort, but I could not make myself finish this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Once upon a time, there was an Cheyenne chief called Little Wolf and a drunken US President named Ulysses S. Grant. After Grant made a horrible fool of himself by being a white guy, Little Wolf was like, "Look, we're matrilineal, so why not just let us have some white ladies to marry and procreate with? We don't even need cool white ladies. You can give us the nice ugly ones. And the pretty crazy ones. But not the crazy ugly ones because that seems like a bit much." And thus the Brides for India Once upon a time, there was an Cheyenne chief called Little Wolf and a drunken US President named Ulysses S. Grant. After Grant made a horrible fool of himself by being a white guy, Little Wolf was like, "Look, we're matrilineal, so why not just let us have some white ladies to marry and procreate with? We don't even need cool white ladies. You can give us the nice ugly ones. And the pretty crazy ones. But not the crazy ugly ones because that seems like a bit much." And thus the Brides for Indians project, or BFI, was born. Except not really. It was apparently proposed, but seeing as the US government was A) not really inclined to marrying its women--not even the crazies and the uglies--off to a nation fighting a losing battle and B) largely made up of bigots who wanted to exterminate the Indians vs. procreating with them, the BFI project didn't exactly pan out. The question Fergus asks is--you know. What if it did? And what if we found the journals of a super sassy lady who happened to marry a Cheyenne chief? Thus, "One Thousand White Women" is born. The Good Look, you gotta admit: this is a pretty sweet premise. To me, at least. I may be biased, though, as the adoption of Caucasians by Indian tribes--particularly Caucasian females--is one of my pet interests at the moment. Same goes for the lives of Indian women. Also, much of "One Thousand White Women" takes place in a stretch of America that I used to call home (ish) so... yes. I'm biased. Long story short--good premise, decent writing. And by decent I mean, "the actual prose quality isn't bad". Doesn't mean it's especially good. The Bad And that decent prose? It works structurally, but logistically speaking... So much of this book doesn't read like a journal. There's a lot of word-for-word dialogue, which normally I would be able to let go, but--May also seems to insist on giving each "foreign" or "Southern" character an accent That doesn't ring true, especially in cases of Southern Belle Daisy Lovelace--yes, that is her name--and Swiss immigrant Gretchen Fathauer--yes, that is her name. Let me try to think of more things that are less "ugly" and just--"bad". Oh, yeah. That ending. Not to spoil anything, but "One Thousand White Women" has the sort of ending that makes you think the author had a "Dances with Wolves" type of movie in mind. Or something. It was totally unearned, and leaves the reader feeling like Fergus thought he had the next Great American Novel on the horizon. Here's a spoiler alert: he didn't. The Ugly Okay. So we have a dude writing the tales of women in a pre-feminist setting. Audience: Ooooh! *winces* The odds are already... not in his favor. Might I add that this is a WHITE dude writing the tales of women AND Indians in a pre-feminist, Manifest Destiny-era setting? Audience: OH SNAP! *eye twitch* Yeah. It turns out about as well as you'd expect. Lemme talk about what I know best first: lady business. Fergus's mid-nineteenth century women, particularly our narrator, are about as real as Pamela Anderson's tits. But while I have nothing against Pamela Anderson's tits and wish them on their merry way, Fergus executes something actively offensive. It feels like he thinks he's writing women well. But these ladies barely fit a twenty-first century setting, let alone a story that takes place right after the end of the Civil War. Fergus is a rape-happy kind of author, which is problematic in itself, particularly when that rape is so repeatedly written by a male. To make matters worse, his ladies barely react. May Dodd is raped repeatedly during her year and a half stint in an asylum; yet she sort of mentions it, goes on her merry way. And that's less than fifty pages into the book. But oh, there's more. I just don't want to spoil it for you. Because I know that if there's one thing I and my fellow ladies love in our fiction, it's some good, old-fashioned sexual assault. Especially the kind that's repeated. Over and over. Luckily, our heroines bounce back with next to no issues. Phew. (The one woman who does act traumatized after being raped is an antagonist and treated as a sort of pathetic wimp.) All that aside, there's just so much that doesn't seem authentic. I can buy that women like May would be willing to marry Indians to get out of a bad situation. I can't buy that May--before the novel's events--was willing, as a fairly aristocratic young woman, to live in sin. She says that she has no inclination towards marriage. She's also agnostic. Um, what? All of this happens with little soul searching. And that would be okay. If she'd been raised in a culture where this was at all acceptable. There's also the problem of sexuality (of the consensual kind). One young lady loses her virginity doggy style--a style she'd never heard of--to a man she didn't know--didn't speak the language of--and acts like this is the best. thing. ever. Again, in the nineteenth century. Also, she's white was raised in the typical white society of the day. Um??? Oh, but of course. These ladies were written by men, and are thus somewhat wish-fulfillment-y. Don't ya love that? I feel as if I've written enough about Fergus's inability to write women. What about his inability to write other ethnicities and cultures? Okay, okay. Fellow white people first. Because you'd at least think that Fergus could get his white people somewhat right. Right? Nope. Swiss Gretchen says a lot of "I yam" and "de" and she's basically an ugly milkmaid who talks about her big titties a lot. The Irish twins Meggie and Susie are former prostitutes and general betters and their last name is Kelly and OH. Southern belle Daisy Lovelace--remember that name?--says racial slurs all the time and boozes it up and... Poor man's Blanche DuBois, is that you? But, as usual, the non-white people get the short end of the stick. The token black lady--the novel's title and Little Wolf's specifications of white women notwithstanding--is the daughter of an African princess who runs around naked and "chuckles" a lot. She will be a slave to no man. Never again! So she somehow convinces the Indians, who valued the separate-but-equal system of gender roles greatly, to let her do a man's work. (Never mind that woman's work was not considered slavery by the Indians, but whatever.) As if that wasn't stereotypical enough for you, we're given the Cheyenne. Little Wolf is the strong silent type whose relationship with May gets basically zero development. He's basically a noble savage except for when he drinks whiskey. (The whiskey-swilling main villain of the novel is half-white, half-Indian. Was that supposed to make a point, or does it totally defeat it? I'm not sure. Maybe Fergus isn't, either.) Wow. That's... original. Noble savagery abounds. The Indians don't know how to have non-doggy-style sex or kiss or anything. But wow, they sure do make nice buckskin dresses. And greasepaint. I'm just waiting for them to tell May to paint with all the colors of the wind. And hey! They're letting Helen Flight, the bird-obsessed artist whose name is totally not significant, paint shit! Wow, Indians. You sure are cool. Towards the end of the novel, May manages to pull the wool over their eyes--Little Wolf's in particular--as all the white people nod knowingly. Because remember: Indians are naive creatures. They don't know what's best for themselves. They only know magic. And dancing. And doggy style. White people know the important stuff. This seems like a minor thing to mention, but May, who is totally gorgeous and has the pretty Indian name of Swallow while her friend gets Falling Down Woman or whatever, has this brief fling with a white dude that is supposed to be a passionate romance? But he's a total douche who barely gets any age time and... it's not? I don't know if that had a point either. The Verdict Hell. I'm not sure if the book did.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~*

    At a peace conference at Fort Laramie in 1854, a prominent northern Cheyenne Chief requested of the US army the gift of one thousand white women as brides for his young warriors. Although this was an actual historical event, the story of May Dodd and her journals is entirely a work of fiction by the author. The Cheyenne's request was not well received by the white authorities, and the peace conference collapsed and the Cheyenne's were actually sent home. The white women did not go. But in this nove At a peace conference at Fort Laramie in 1854, a prominent northern Cheyenne Chief requested of the US army the gift of one thousand white women as brides for his young warriors. Although this was an actual historical event, the story of May Dodd and her journals is entirely a work of fiction by the author. The Cheyenne's request was not well received by the white authorities, and the peace conference collapsed and the Cheyenne's were actually sent home. The white women did not go. But in this novel they do..and what if? What would have happened? The story begins with a remarkable woman named May Dodd who travels west into the unknown and marries the Chief of the Cheyenne Nation. May Dodd tells her story through fictional diaries of the fate she left behind being committed to an insane asylum, having her babies taken away from her by her blueblood family for the "crime" of loving a man without marriage and beneath her station. May's only hope for freedom is to sign up to a secret government program where women from the "civilized" world become brides to the Cheyenne warriors. What follows is a breathtaking adventure of May Dodd, her brief but passionate romance with the gallant Army Captain John Bourke, her marriage to the great Chief Little Wolf and her conflict of being caught between not only two worlds but loving two men and living two lives. What I liked about this story, was May Dodd was an incredible woman living in her time and the author did a splendid job writing from the perspective of a woman with such credibility told through her journals. There was enough historical backdrop/details without it becoming "over-detailed" so that it took away from the story/characters. The secondary characters (the women May travelled with) was also well done and balanced so that they too weren't distracting from May's story, and the bond that grew with these women was also neatly woven within the telling. When I picked up this book,I thought it would be a "dry as the prairie" that they travelled on and on kinda book. Not so! A fantastic tale of the Old West and the Native American Indians, a superb tale of sorrow, loss, sacrifice, suspense, and most of all love and triumph. And it's not often when a book leaves this reader eagerly waiting to turn the next page to find out what will happen next. Highly recommend this book and I'm looking forward to this authors sequel! Edit to review: Due to the historical time period this story was set in and although not in graphic detail,there are scenes of violence,rape and other subject matter that may not appeal to some readers.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chellis

    If this book was not assigned to me for my book club, I wouldn't have wasted my time to read it. Not only is Fergus' novel, overly sentimental, historically inaccurate, misogynistic, it is racist towards Native Americans. AND it's all told in my least favorite method of narration: the journal entry. Chapters will often begin with, "So much has happened since my last entry, I don't know where to begin...." This is an easy tool to push time forward, and overdone in poorly written novels. Fergus' n If this book was not assigned to me for my book club, I wouldn't have wasted my time to read it. Not only is Fergus' novel, overly sentimental, historically inaccurate, misogynistic, it is racist towards Native Americans. AND it's all told in my least favorite method of narration: the journal entry. Chapters will often begin with, "So much has happened since my last entry, I don't know where to begin...." This is an easy tool to push time forward, and overdone in poorly written novels. Fergus' novel was chosen for the Doubleday Book Club, which means that publishers have no idea what women read. It's true that women are the main demographic in Book Clubs, but that doesn't mean that we only want to read women "survival stories," (let alone one poorly written by a man.)

  10. 4 out of 5

    MacDuff

    This book was really disappointing. The premise begins with a re-telling of the proposed "Brides for Indians" pact that went on in 1854, when a whole host of Cheyenne Native Americans came into DC and asked for 1000 white women to take back to the prairie. Their idea was that by impregnating the women, they'd put the Native American seed into Caucasian culture and thus assimilate it. Ok, so that never happened. But for Jim Fergus, he lets his imagination roll with the idea that it did. Enter May This book was really disappointing. The premise begins with a re-telling of the proposed "Brides for Indians" pact that went on in 1854, when a whole host of Cheyenne Native Americans came into DC and asked for 1000 white women to take back to the prairie. Their idea was that by impregnating the women, they'd put the Native American seed into Caucasian culture and thus assimilate it. Ok, so that never happened. But for Jim Fergus, he lets his imagination roll with the idea that it did. Enter May Dodd, a woman who fell in love with a guy who worked for her father and was (obviously) below her station in life. Institutionalized for promiscuity after she gives birth to two children, May is eligible for the Brides program because she is obviously fertile. I really thought that I was going to like this book, and be able to read it over a weekend. Instead, factual misrepresentation totally got the best of me. Dates are just wrong. I can't imagine what Fergus' editor was doing when he sent in this book. For instance, there's this point where Dodd, who is writing in 1874/75, mentioned the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The CSO was begun in 1891. I hate to ask people to look up these references, but please. Also problematic is Fergus' idea of what thoughts went through women's heads in the mid-1800s. Apparently, women were spritely, not afraid to stand up for themselves, and spoke out in crowds of men. I wouldn't call myself a traditionalist, but at the very least give an accurate portrayal of what life was like for us back in 1874. And finally, it just seems like the author wasn't paying any sort of attention to his character. For instance, May Dodd undergoes this "treatment" in the asylum for promiscuity. Her vagina is injected with boiling hot water at regular intervals. She is also raped repeatedly by the orderlies. However, she gets out of the institution and is sleeping with a man almost immediately. It just isn't believable. In another passage, May recounts how she and a few of the other brides have totally given up their Western attire for Native American clothing. They don't even remember WHERE their skirts and blouses are. However, when one of them has the idea to hit the sweat lodge with the rest of the Native American men, they all pull out the cotton towel they packed for just this sort of instance. Again, it's just not believable. In something like Phillippa Gregory's books, you can overcome any factual problems because you're reading a bodice ripper. While Fergus says right at the front of the book that this is a work of fiction, you still have to do your research.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I read this for book club and felt distracted by the quality of writing, and therefore unable to even entertain the implausible historical premise. Maybe that is my own shortcoming. I just have a difficult time buying into a "journal" which contains pages of dialogue and real time events, and a voice that constantly contradicts itself and clearly belongs in a different century... but I tried to ignore this. As I read on, it became clear that while the author did his history homework, and has an I read this for book club and felt distracted by the quality of writing, and therefore unable to even entertain the implausible historical premise. Maybe that is my own shortcoming. I just have a difficult time buying into a "journal" which contains pages of dialogue and real time events, and a voice that constantly contradicts itself and clearly belongs in a different century... but I tried to ignore this. As I read on, it became clear that while the author did his history homework, and has an obvious acquaintance with American topography, he had great difficulty getting into the mind of a woman, let alone a 19th century woman! (i.e. gang raped and "fine" within a month or so, pregnant, yet walking/horseback-riding great distances without mention or concern of said pregnancy, blushing and giggling after losing one's virginity doggy-style, the list goes on...) I found his stereotypes to be tiresome, and the whole story felt very contrived, particularly the relationships he "explores" throughout the novel (which in my opinion reach little to no depth). The caricatures he presents belong in a comedy, and while this novel has its humorous moments, it is ultimately a dramatic portrayal of the hardships of frontier life, and the clash between the spiritual but doomed Native Americans and the white man's Manifest Destiny. It seems readers love most about the novel its heroine, May, for her brazen ways, fortitude in peril, and feminist ideals. Please. This character is being spoon fed to 21st century women readers. A much more likable, realistic, and complex version of this same character is Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody, who fits in perfectly in Peters' light-hearted, adventurous historical mysteries. And while Peabody would be the first to join the men for a whiskey and soda, contemplating the next "course of action," she would never, for her own amusement, make a mockery of a culture's ritualistic and spiritual traditions! Compared to the fully developed Peabody, May is a mere stick figure, propped up by the author in effort to sell his book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I have to agree with several of the previous reviewers... GREAT premise (exchange of 1,000 white women for peace - an offer actually made, but declined by Grant) and interesting insight into Native American culture. However, I had some of the same gripes as previous reviewers. For one, I thought the writing was very mediocre, it was abound with cliches. If the narrator referred to one more person being "rough around the edges" I was going to scream. Not to mention "he made my skin crawl." And, a I have to agree with several of the previous reviewers... GREAT premise (exchange of 1,000 white women for peace - an offer actually made, but declined by Grant) and interesting insight into Native American culture. However, I had some of the same gripes as previous reviewers. For one, I thought the writing was very mediocre, it was abound with cliches. If the narrator referred to one more person being "rough around the edges" I was going to scream. Not to mention "he made my skin crawl." And, as others said, May Dodd's forthrightness/gumption in the company of men is just not believable for that time period. Even the pluckiest of women wouldn't have been so mouthy and brazen. I just had a really hard time getting into the book because of these things. I also didn't really like the narrator, probably because she was completely unbelievable and sounded very much like a man trying to write as a woman in modern day. I didn't care that much about what happened to her. But I am giving it a 3 for the premise and uniqueness of the story line. Plus I loved the info on the native americans (being part Chickasaw myself!)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy Sheridan

    If I were a member of the Cheyenne tribe featured in this book, my Indian name would be Couldn't-Finish-The-Book. If Jim Fergus were a member of the tribe, his Indian name would be Has-Never-Spoken-To-A-Woman-For-Any-Amount-Of-Time because... really. Oh, and the Indian name of this book would be Fail-Order-Brides. I will start off by saying that I've never been a fan of historical fiction or books written as journals, but the premise of this book piqued my interest. I wasn't even slightly put off If I were a member of the Cheyenne tribe featured in this book, my Indian name would be Couldn't-Finish-The-Book. If Jim Fergus were a member of the tribe, his Indian name would be Has-Never-Spoken-To-A-Woman-For-Any-Amount-Of-Time because... really. Oh, and the Indian name of this book would be Fail-Order-Brides. I will start off by saying that I've never been a fan of historical fiction or books written as journals, but the premise of this book piqued my interest. I wasn't even slightly put off by the idea of a man writing as a woman... until I started reading, clearly the author has never had a conversation with a woman. It also seems like he didn't spend much time researching the social mores of that time. I'm thinking he spent most of his time coming up with stereotypes and trying to see how many times he could use the N word. If I were a betting woman, I would say that Jim Fergus is a comic book and/or fan-fic fan because the narrator, May Dodd, is the biggest Mary Sue EVER, she's the prettiest (I know this not because there was any description of her, but because, from her descriptions, all of the other women were gargoyles) she stands up to authority, mouths off to everyone, all the men love and respect her and she ends up with the only good Indian name. My iPod says I'm 40% in and I tried tried tried, but I really couldn't finish. As interesting as the premise was, there wasn't a single character I didn't dislike.

  14. 4 out of 5

    cherishwit

    Quite a good read. From Booklist, by Grace Fill An American western with a most unusual twist, this is an imaginative fictional account of the participation of May Dodd and others in the controversial "Brides for Indians" program, a clandestine U.S. government^-sponsored program intended to instruct "savages" in the ways of civilization and to assimilate the Indians into white culture through the offspring of these unions. May's personal journals, loaded with humor and intelligent reflection, de Quite a good read. From Booklist, by Grace Fill An American western with a most unusual twist, this is an imaginative fictional account of the participation of May Dodd and others in the controversial "Brides for Indians" program, a clandestine U.S. government^-sponsored program intended to instruct "savages" in the ways of civilization and to assimilate the Indians into white culture through the offspring of these unions. May's personal journals, loaded with humor and intelligent reflection, describe the adventures of some very colorful white brides (including one black one), their marriages to Cheyenne warriors, and the natural abundance of life on the prairie before the final press of the white man's civilization. Fergus is gifted in his ability to portray the perceptions and emotions of women. He writes with tremendous insight and sensitivity about the individual community and the political and religious issues of the time, many of which are still relevant today. This book is artistically rendered with meticulous attention to small details that bring to life the daily concerns of a group of hardy souls at a pivotal time in U.S. history. Grace Fill

  15. 5 out of 5

    TL

    3.5 stars... an interesting look at "what could have happened" if history had gone a little differently . Hard to get fully into at first, but still fascinating. When it did pull me in, I was hooked.. dragged a bit near the end but was never boring (part of that may have been me having an idea or two of what was happening and dreading it too) The way May's journal entries are written, it feels like you have gone back in time and catching a glimpse of a forgotten past. It feels like I could have b 3.5 stars... an interesting look at "what could have happened" if history had gone a little differently . Hard to get fully into at first, but still fascinating. When it did pull me in, I was hooked.. dragged a bit near the end but was never boring (part of that may have been me having an idea or two of what was happening and dreading it too) The way May's journal entries are written, it feels like you have gone back in time and catching a glimpse of a forgotten past. It feels like I could have been reading about my own ancestor or close friend. Everyone/Everything is brought vividly to life through May's eyes as well. Nothing felt forced/cardboard/out of place. Potential trigger: (view spoiler)[There is a group rape scene... it isn't explicit but its presence is known. May is tactful so maybe this won't bother you but better to be safe hmm? (hide spoiler)] I admired May for doing her best to adapt to her circumstances and not giving in when things got bleak. She was a woman ahead of her time in one sense but I don't see how she couldn't have forseen how her family would react. In her defense , I guess she couldn't have predicted her family sending her to the asylum *shrugs * The ending of May's portion.. my heart broke and I was angry in equal turns... Many times I was throwing things at these characters and cursing them... to explain fully even in spoiler tags would be a long rant so I will say no more here. The Codicil and Epilogue were nice touches. Would recommend when you have the time to focus on it (unlike me haha) *will fix any errors later*

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kkop12

    So I liked the entire book, especially the main character. However, I was a bit bummed by the end. And I even had a little trouble figuring out who the characters were in the final pages (lineage). But what a well written book. I had never read a book about Indians, and while I am sure it only scratched the surface of their customs and way of life, it did present a lot of information about them. In the end though, it was ironic that the main character was unable to identify with either the India So I liked the entire book, especially the main character. However, I was a bit bummed by the end. And I even had a little trouble figuring out who the characters were in the final pages (lineage). But what a well written book. I had never read a book about Indians, and while I am sure it only scratched the surface of their customs and way of life, it did present a lot of information about them. In the end though, it was ironic that the main character was unable to identify with either the Indians (due to their hideous act at the end) or the Whites (due to THEIR hideous act at the end). It left me feeling that she must have been so sad,

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    Loved the book...it is in journal form and tells of how the government asked the American Indians to trade one thousand white women for horses...their main reason was to "civilize" the Indians and make them aware of and become familiar with the white people's way of life. Very interesting book...topic not as bad as it sounds.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary Helene

    It's a bodice-ripper! It took me to page 80 to figure that out and then I laughed aloud. Tana recommended it to me, and I usually value her recommendations, but I forgot that this is a genre she finds fun. I was just so disappointed. This book would appeal to those who like the "Outlander" series. There is the heroine who has no faults or failings but who is consistently misunderstood. There are evil characters lurking on the edges, but she feels safe in the arms of a series of fantastic heroes It's a bodice-ripper! It took me to page 80 to figure that out and then I laughed aloud. Tana recommended it to me, and I usually value her recommendations, but I forgot that this is a genre she finds fun. I was just so disappointed. This book would appeal to those who like the "Outlander" series. There is the heroine who has no faults or failings but who is consistently misunderstood. There are evil characters lurking on the edges, but she feels safe in the arms of a series of fantastic heroes who are almost, but not quite, worthy of her. Her rivals and all who have done her wrong are dismissed with sarcasm. I cannot finish it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hiroto

    If you read the top reviews, however good the total rating is, you'll see the book has kinda bad reputation, and lemme tell you : it earned it. All of it. What a fuckin sham this book is. I think this is the book I hated the most this year. Actually, more than that, it angered me until I couldn't take it anymore and basically threw it across the room. I want to burn the piece of garbage. The plot promised me strong and independent women, I got a bunch of clichés : -the shehulk swiss with fucking bo If you read the top reviews, however good the total rating is, you'll see the book has kinda bad reputation, and lemme tell you : it earned it. All of it. What a fuckin sham this book is. I think this is the book I hated the most this year. Actually, more than that, it angered me until I couldn't take it anymore and basically threw it across the room. I want to burn the piece of garbage. The plot promised me strong and independent women, I got a bunch of clichés : -the shehulk swiss with fucking bowling balls for tits who's a lil dumb and has an accent so thicc it's written like zat because get it ? english isn't her mother language -the ex-slave (how even was she accepted ??? we don't f know) who rediscovers her African roots cause she's a motherfucking chasseresse and was accepted as such by the Indians and has always her tities out. because get it ? she's black -the sweet naïve one who went because she wanted to be with the protagonist and it was likely her only prospect to get herself married because get it ? she's fugly etc etc, but the worst really is May Dodd, our MC and narrator. She's a marysue. She's super pretty. She's got a banging body. She knows Shakepeare by heart. She's the smartest of the bunch. She's pretty much a speshul snowflakes, without the YA magic touch™. She's the ultimate fantasy of the author, and it's so painful to read because it's so clear he thinks she's the perfect woman and want to bang her. She proclaims herself to be "nonconformist", I'm like, OK, in 1875, why not, it must certainly have existed... Except that, for Mr. Fergus, an nonconformist woman only means she thinks about sex a lot, and it doesn't matter if she get raped several times in the process : she's so nonconformist she doesn't know about PTSD. She's so feminist she drags her own sisters of misfortune. Seriously how many times have I read her bash one of them as ugly, or kinda dumb, etc etc ? That's not feminism. That's being bitchy. (also I'm pretty sure she talks like she's in the 1990 at least but- whatever.) She's so fucking perfect for the male gaze IT HURTS. Lemme explain with an exemple : She and her sisters just got to their new home : the Cheyenne Camp. Our Perfect May is kinda stinky and in need of a bath. She observed the males always go together to the river, while the women rest at the camp. So what does she do ?? She invites herself with the men, looses her dress, and dives directly into the water while they watch with their mouths aghast (because she has a banging bod™). Indeed, she is so freakin gracefull the Cheyennes give her the name of "Swallow". I would have called her "Lunatic" but okay. (btw her sisters all got names like "Clumsy One", and she gets freaking "Swallow" wtf.) Also what is up with rape in this book ? For two years, our Perfect MC was raped by an intendent in the mental hospital she was shut in (because she lived with a man and had babies with him without being married). That's pretty rough. I mean, I think I'd be destroyed, but heh, that's just me. But once she escape it doesn't appear to bother her that much. She's already in love with her good colonel and they bang fondly, I guess ? My point is : you don't INTRODUCE RAPE AS A BACKSTORY IF YOU DON'T SOMEHOW MAKE USE OF IT. IN FICTION, IT'S JUST UNECESSARY VIOLENCE. And later in the book, a new character is introduced and he is a piece of shit, because Mr. Fergus wanted to have a villain guy. The only point of his character is to make rape threats to the girls and particularly to the MC. Every time the character is here, it's just to say "Salope, je vais t'enculer à sec" (wich I don't want to translate because he says it in french in the book and also because you can google). once again : what.is.the.fucking.point. A few pages later, all the indians of the camp are freakin smashed, because rapethreatsdouche gave 'em alcohol. They're so fucking drunk they gangrape a poor girl. But it's fine ! It's totally OK ! Because like 5 pages after, May tells us that Daisy finally loosed the broom in her ass after the "incident" ! A lil dick a day keep the bitch away ! YOO-FUCKING-WOO. Also, the ex-slave woman was also raped but it’s ok because she was a slave and that’s pretty much expected ; another one I didn’t mention, the youngest of the group, she was mute, and May understands that that was ACTUALLY PTSD because when they’re all kidnapped by another group of Indians, they rape them all and she –the young one, not May, omg please follow- actually STRUGGLE so hard she kills her assailant but not before he manages to kill her also. What a fucking trainwreck this chunk of the book is. I should maybe expend on it because once again : I don’t see its point. A rival band of “their cheyennes” (I don’t remember the names help) captures the white women, rapes them, and then is slaughtered by their husbands. Like… I don’t get it ? Why did they rape them when they could’ve flee to their own camp, organize a defense line before the inevitably angry husbands come to the rescue and THEN rape them ? WHAT WAS THE POINT I’M SO FUCKING ANGRY But do you want to know what actually made me stop reading this piece of shit ? The fucking priest, that’s why. Okay so there’s a priest at camp, he’s there to convert the heathens or whatvs. One day, he’s caught sodomizing a child. The cheyennes were never confronted to a crime of this kind, and they don’t quite know how to punish him (we don’t get to know how the child feels btw). He’s finally rejected by the camp at its outskirts, and that’s all. Ok, alright, I can understand that decision. What made me lose my shit was May, our smart and fierce narrator PITIED HIM. Because he wasn’t accepted at the camp anymore. OUR FIERCE NONCONFORMISTE FEMINIST DIDN’T QUITE CARE THAT THE DUDE IS A FUCKING CHILDRAPIST, now, she PITIED HIM. What a bunch of shit. I’m out. PS : if you’re wondering if I at least learned a thing or two about the Natives and their lifestyle, the answer is no. Not a thing

  20. 4 out of 5

    MAP

    1.5 stars. This is another one of those disappointing books where the idea is really neat and the execution is incredibly bad. The main issue is how flawed the writing of the characters is. For one thing, he seems to confuse people having accents for people having personalities. There are Irish accents, southern accents, German accents. And he WRITES OUT the accents, which is supremely annoying. (He also sporadically writes things in French and then doesn't translate them.) On top of that, there' 1.5 stars. This is another one of those disappointing books where the idea is really neat and the execution is incredibly bad. The main issue is how flawed the writing of the characters is. For one thing, he seems to confuse people having accents for people having personalities. There are Irish accents, southern accents, German accents. And he WRITES OUT the accents, which is supremely annoying. (He also sporadically writes things in French and then doesn't translate them.) On top of that, there's every cliche in the book: the pedophile priest, the hypocritical evangelical, the magical negro. May's husband, Little Wolf, is barely in the damn book. He's like a shadowy figure with no personality or impact on the book whatsoever. May says over and over that she feels integrated into the Cheyenne society, but we the readers never feel it. Finally, you just don't CARE about any of the characters. I had no emotional connection or reaction to anything that happened, ever. After reading all my friends' negative reviews, I was hoping it would at least be fun terrible and trashy. But no, it was just pathetic terrible and trashy. It's rounded up to 2 stars and is given 1.5 stars simply because it doesn't quite reach the unreadable monstrosity of the likes of The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    Why did I read this book? Two words: book club. Yes, after a lifetime of avoiding book clubs, perhaps its fitting that in my latest job one of my tasks is to lead a book club. And guess what the first title is? On the plus side, it was a quick read. An amalgamation of cliches and trite characters (Noble Native Americans, uptight white people, a former slave who not only sings and dances good but is also the fastest runner in the tribe!), this is a basic tale of 1875, as the last Native Americans w Why did I read this book? Two words: book club. Yes, after a lifetime of avoiding book clubs, perhaps its fitting that in my latest job one of my tasks is to lead a book club. And guess what the first title is? On the plus side, it was a quick read. An amalgamation of cliches and trite characters (Noble Native Americans, uptight white people, a former slave who not only sings and dances good but is also the fastest runner in the tribe!), this is a basic tale of 1875, as the last Native Americans were being herded off their land and onto reservations. The premise is that the Chief of the Cheyenne, Little Wolf, approached President Grant with a proposal: That the Native Americans (or "savages" as they are called in the book) be given 1,000 white women in exchange for 1,000 horses from the Cheyenne. The theory is that miscegenation will take place, and everyone will live happily ever after. That doesn't happen. And the author doesn't add anything to our understanding of that period of history, which is presumably the point of this book. Instead we get a lurid romance novel. Oy!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The friend who loaned me this book raved about it, and I really trust her opinion. However, I just couldn't love this book. It is an interesting topic-it's based on a true bit of history, when the Native Americans and the U.S. were trying to integrate, and the Native Americans requested 1000 of American white women to help the process and have their children. Of course, Grant turned it down, but this book is a fictional account of what might have been. It was an extremely interesting idea, and I The friend who loaned me this book raved about it, and I really trust her opinion. However, I just couldn't love this book. It is an interesting topic-it's based on a true bit of history, when the Native Americans and the U.S. were trying to integrate, and the Native Americans requested 1000 of American white women to help the process and have their children. Of course, Grant turned it down, but this book is a fictional account of what might have been. It was an extremely interesting idea, and I especially enjoyed learning more of the Indian cultures, but for one, the characters seemed typical, almost soap opera figures. You know, the racist southern belle, the large, loud woman, the drunk prostitute....the characters were, although very developed, very unbelievable, in my opinion. My main problem of the book is that it was written by a man, and narrated by a woman. I think it nearly impossible for a man to write from a woman's view. It just didn't ring true to me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I fear I'm going to be overly harsh on this book. First, this book took me 3 months to read, which is nearly unheard of, especially for ~300 pages. I kept wanting to just stop reading, but I wanted to finish it so I could say I finished it. The basic story of the book I think is intriguing and could be the basis for a really good book if done correctly. I just think the author missed terribly here. The book is bogged down by dialogue, and crappy dialogue at that. He felt it necessary to write con I fear I'm going to be overly harsh on this book. First, this book took me 3 months to read, which is nearly unheard of, especially for ~300 pages. I kept wanting to just stop reading, but I wanted to finish it so I could say I finished it. The basic story of the book I think is intriguing and could be the basis for a really good book if done correctly. I just think the author missed terribly here. The book is bogged down by dialogue, and crappy dialogue at that. He felt it necessary to write conversation out to sound (in your head while you read it) like the person's accent... very amateur I thought. The main character is just too much. He attempts to give her flaws, but makes her appear too "good" or "important" for a character that is supposed to be flawed. I wouldn't really recommend this book at all...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christa

    One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd is a very interesting and original book. In 1854 a Cheyenne chief proposed a plan to exchange 1000 horses for 1000 white brides for his warriors. The plan was rejected, but Fergus basis his fictional novel on a similar situation set in 1875. In the novel, the Cheyenne are promised 1000 white brides, and May Dodd, resident of an insane asylum, is one of the women selected. The character May Dodd was a strong woman and her story was compelling. 187 One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd is a very interesting and original book. In 1854 a Cheyenne chief proposed a plan to exchange 1000 horses for 1000 white brides for his warriors. The plan was rejected, but Fergus basis his fictional novel on a similar situation set in 1875. In the novel, the Cheyenne are promised 1000 white brides, and May Dodd, resident of an insane asylum, is one of the women selected. The character May Dodd was a strong woman and her story was compelling. 1875 finds May Dodd living in an insane asylum in Chicago. Her parents placed her there unwillingly because she was living with a man of a much lower social station without the benefit of marriage. May and her lover had two children together, and her wealthy parents used her promiscuity as means to have her committed. The asylum is a hopeless place, and May misses her beloved children greatly. When she is offered the opportunity to go west as a bride for a Cheyenne warrior in order to help assimilate the tribe into the white culture, she decides that this may be her only possibility of leaving the asylum. She journeys west with a group of other "brides," many of them from prisons or other undesirable situations. On the journey to meet her bridegroom, May comes to have deep feelings for an army officer. Knowing that their relationship is hopeless, May resolutely goes to her new home with the Cheyenne. She finds her new husband to be a man of honor, and she greatly respects him. As May and the other women who journeyed with her settle into their new lives, the U.S. government decides not to honor their bargain but to instead force these Cheyenne to a reservation. When violence strikes the Cheyenne in the form of the U.S. Army, many of the brides and their new families come to a tragic end. I enjoyed this book. I quickly became caught up in the story, and was saddened by the tragic end that came to many of the characters. May Dodd was an unusual, but likeable heroine. I enjoyed the manner in which the beginning and end of the book take place in the present with one of her desendants searching for information about May after the family story of her dying in the Chicago asylum is derailed.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melodie

    An actual event is the premise for this story set in the late 1800s. But what actually happened doesn't at all resemble what the author puts forth.As the white man encroached on the land of the native people, treaty after treaty was made and broken. A delegation led by Cheyenne leader, Little Wolf met with then President Grant to try to once again come to an understanding that would allow the native people to maintain their land and lifestyle. Basically, in exchange for residing on a specified An actual event is the premise for this story set in the late 1800s. But what actually happened doesn't at all resemble what the author puts forth.As the white man encroached on the land of the native people, treaty after treaty was made and broken. A delegation led by Cheyenne leader, Little Wolf met with then President Grant to try to once again come to an understanding that would allow the native people to maintain their land and lifestyle. Basically, in exchange for residing on a specified piece of land, the Indian people would be supplied with supplies to assist them in farming and would be able to hunt only enough to supply their needs. The Indian people were hunters , not farmers, so this was agreement was largely ignored. The author puts forth that Little Wolf asked for one thousand white women in exchange for a corresponding number of horses. Being matrilineal, Little Wolf reasoned that the Indian people could assimilate into the white world by taking white wives and thus bringing the "tribes" together with future generations. And the story begins. The book is written in the form of a series of journals kept by one of the women in the program. I enjoyed the book because it is fiction and I took it as such. While the author didn't do a very good job with actual events and the women in the book were not at all representative of the era, it was an engaging story. What he did get right and portrays so well was how poorly the native people were and continue to be treated.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lois

    A fascinating look at life among the Cheyenne Indians in 1874 from the perspective of a white woman who is part of a US govt. program to assimilate the natives. The landscape is perfectly described and family and communal life is portrayed in great detail in a supposed journal with accompanying letters and bibliography. It appears to be well researched, but my problem with this kind of historical fiction is always wondering just how much IS true (were the Indians really THAT brutal?) The too-goo A fascinating look at life among the Cheyenne Indians in 1874 from the perspective of a white woman who is part of a US govt. program to assimilate the natives. The landscape is perfectly described and family and communal life is portrayed in great detail in a supposed journal with accompanying letters and bibliography. It appears to be well researched, but my problem with this kind of historical fiction is always wondering just how much IS true (were the Indians really THAT brutal?) The too-good-to-be-true characters were also a distraction.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    According to the author, at a peace conference in 1854, a Cheyenne Indian chief asked U.S. Army authorities for the gift of 1000 women. The idea was these women would become the brides of young Indian warriors and produce offspring which would lead to assimilation into the white man's world. This request was not well received and declined. In this fictional book however, President Ulysses S. Grant agrees to the proposal and women from different backgrounds are sent out west to become wives. The According to the author, at a peace conference in 1854, a Cheyenne Indian chief asked U.S. Army authorities for the gift of 1000 women. The idea was these women would become the brides of young Indian warriors and produce offspring which would lead to assimilation into the white man's world. This request was not well received and declined. In this fictional book however, President Ulysses S. Grant agrees to the proposal and women from different backgrounds are sent out west to become wives. The book is a collection of journal entries and letters to family by the young woman, May Dodd who agreed to become a wife in order to leave the insane asylum where she was put in by her parents. I really found this book fascinating and loved how the author took one kernel of truth and then created a whole fictional book about what might have happened if the government had agreed to the proposal. Right off the bat I loved the character of May Dodd and enjoyed her thoughtful narrations. I also grew to love the other female characters and how they adjusted to their new lives. I thought the book did a good job in showing all of the difficulties the Indians faced and how horribly they were treated by the hands of the government. While other reviewers have stated that they could tell this was written by a man, I personally never once thought while reading that it didn't sound like a woman's voice. All in all, I ended up being surprised at how much I enjoyed this book and am interested in reading the sequel. I received a free copy from St. Martin's Press and Life of a Book Addict. I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinions.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kiri

    A well written and lively "alter-verse" (if you will) Historical Fiction re-telling of the proposed "Brides for Indians" pact of September 1874, when the heads of the Cheyenne tribes, including Chief Little Wolf (the Sweet Medicine Chief) and others, journeyed to Washington D.C. with a proposal for President Ulysses S. Grant. They presented their plan to give the government one thousand horses in exchange for one thousand white women. Hoping to end the fighting between the white man and Indians A well written and lively "alter-verse" (if you will) Historical Fiction re-telling of the proposed "Brides for Indians" pact of September 1874, when the heads of the Cheyenne tribes, including Chief Little Wolf (the Sweet Medicine Chief) and others, journeyed to Washington D.C. with a proposal for President Ulysses S. Grant. They presented their plan to give the government one thousand horses in exchange for one thousand white women. Hoping to end the fighting between the white man and Indians on the American plains, the Cheyenne felt that if white women could merge with their tribe and bear children of mixed blood, the new children might bond the two races. (The Cheyenne are matrilineal) Indians and whites would then begin to truly assimilate and learn to live together peacefully. While a distinctly fictional account that is not truly representative of the original time-period this will take the reader into a facsimile of the period that may well lead them to want to know more - which is never a bad thing! Jim Fergus does a decent job of writing in the voice of his main character - May Dodd, providing his reader with a viewpoint of the time and personages involved with an interestingly deft hand. I enjoyed the portrayals of native living and the contrasts shown between the cultures. An enjoyable read. =) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Originally Read 16 Sept 2008 Re-read 22 April 2010

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    3.5 stars. In 1874 The Cheyenne Chief Little Wolf approached President Ulysses Grant with the proposal to trade 1000 white women for 1000 horses, an offer refused by the government. The premise in Jim Fergus' book is that the government decided to secretly send these women. Initially I didn't like May, I found her behaviour very unlikely for the time, but as I read further I realized that to accept the offer and live the life she did, she would have to be someone that didn't tow the line. This was 3.5 stars. In 1874 The Cheyenne Chief Little Wolf approached President Ulysses Grant with the proposal to trade 1000 white women for 1000 horses, an offer refused by the government. The premise in Jim Fergus' book is that the government decided to secretly send these women. Initially I didn't like May, I found her behaviour very unlikely for the time, but as I read further I realized that to accept the offer and live the life she did, she would have to be someone that didn't tow the line. This was a much lighter read than I expected, and I finished it in three sittings. All the information on the Cheyenne tribe was very interesting, and I liked that the author showed them as human beings, and not as angels, as is so often the case when writing about an historical event where a party was wronged. A quick, entertaining read, my only criticism is that most of the main characters are a bit cliched. The Story: ​Committed to an insane asylum by her blueblood family for an affair with a man beneath her station, May finds that her only hope of freedom is to participate in a secret government program whereby women from the "civilized" world become the brides of Cheyenne warriors.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    5* Rating If I didn’t know before hand that this book was a work of fiction, it would have been easy to think otherwise. The Intro: (1996) by J. Will Dodd, editor in chief of Chicago’s city magazine and great-grandson of the (h) May Dodd, writes very convincingly. Thru the years rumors had circulated within the ‘family’ about the “crazy woman”, born 1850, hospitalized at 23 for a nervous disorder, then died in the asylum in 1876. Ancestral insanity, an embarrassment, was a well kept hidden little 5* Rating If I didn’t know before hand that this book was a work of fiction, it would have been easy to think otherwise. The Intro: (1996) by J. Will Dodd, editor in chief of Chicago’s city magazine and great-grandson of the (h) May Dodd, writes very convincingly. Thru the years rumors had circulated within the ‘family’ about the “crazy woman”, born 1850, hospitalized at 23 for a nervous disorder, then died in the asylum in 1876. Ancestral insanity, an embarrassment, was a well kept hidden little secret. While doing research on a piece about the old scions of Chicago, J.W. came across his great-grandmother’s name and became obsessed to learn more about her. Finding a letter in the family archives, written by May to her children while incarcerated in the asylum, he became driven to unravel the family dynasty’s dirty little secret. This obsession eventually led him to the Tongue River Indian res of the Northern Cheyenne where he was granted access to May Dodd’s journals…which he published in their entirety in this book. The Prologue: In 1874, Little Wolf, the great Cheyenne Sweet Medicine Chief, accompanied with a delegation of his tribesmen, journeyed to Washington to meet with President Ulysses S Grant. His purpose: To make a lasting peace with the whites to ensure the survival of his people. His plan expressed through an interpreter: A request for the gift of 1,000 white women as wives, “to teach us and our children the new life that must be lived when the buffalo are gone.” Oh, this was great. Fergus’ writing is vivid. Since this was an historical occasion, those in attendance were the President’s wife, his aides, members of the Washington press corps, photographers… All hell broke loose. In a sad way, the entire episode was kind of funny. Well, I could go on, but to shorten a long story…in the end, the government’s secret “Brides for Indians” program was born. Women volunteers were recruited from jails, penitentiaries, debtor’s prisons, and mental institutions. The volunteers were offered full pardons or unconditional release for participation in this ‘noble duty to serve their country’ through this government program. HA The Journals: May Dodd was one diligent writer. Coming from one of the wealthiest families in Chicago, she was also a true Women’s Libber, a scandalous embarrassment to one of Chicago’s most prestigious families. That last is what got her incarcerated into the Insane Asylum...by her family...for the remainder of her life. Her journals read like a story. She misses nothing. She begins while imprisoned in the asylum, covering events that led her to that point, through to the very end of her life’s adventures. I loved this character. Fergus included everything I like in a female lead...smart, adventurous, strong, courageous, fun, loving... He did her credit in writing from a woman’s perspective. As well as in his characterizations of the other women who made this journey with May on their “Train Bound for Glory”. Each individual was unique with descriptions as to what led each of them to embark on this adventure. The author's details of their unique personalities brought them right off the pages to life: John Bourke: Captain in the Cavalry whose life and heart gets entwined with our May Jimmy: The muleskinner who turns out to actually be Dirty Gertie. Phemie: One of the 'brides', a Negress slave who made escape on the underground railroad, was sent to Canada, then decided to join the 'BFI program', making her very first 'free' decision regarding her life. Martha: Employee of the Insane Asylum, true friend of May who chose to come along versus facing possible criminal prosecution. Elizabeth Flight: English cigar smoking, rifle toting English woman who ran out of funds for her research on her new Audubon type project, thus volunteering so she could continue with her project. The Kelly twin sisters from Chicago's Irish town: Volunteers to escape their 10 yr. sentences in the Illinois State Penitentiary for charges of prostitution and grand theft. Many more interesting characters...I enjoyed every one of them. Even the author's portrayal of the Cheyenne as a primitive people is unique from other authors I've read. Took me to another place with the people. I have to add that the scene that took place when the Cheyenne warriors made their first appearance to check out their 'wives' in all their painted glory was spectacular. So spectacular that many of the 'volunteers' among these Easteners lost their ever lovin minds. LOL This one is a Keeper.

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