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

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

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By (author) Scott W Berg

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  • Publisher: Pantheon Books
  • Format: Hardback | 363 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 236mm x 30mm | 748g
  • Publication date: 4 December 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York, NY
  • ISBN 10: 0307377245
  • ISBN 13: 9780307377241
  • Illustrations note: black & white halftones, figures
  • Sales rank: 1,009,914

Product description

In August 1862, after decades of broken treaties, increasing hardship, and relentless encroachment on their lands, a group of Dakota warriors convened a council at the tepee of their leader, Little Crow. Knowing the strength and resilience of the young American nation, Little Crow counseled caution, but anger won the day. Forced to either lead his warriors in a war he knew they could not win or leave them to their fates, he declared, "[Little Crow] is not a coward: he will die with you." So began six weeks of intense conflict along the Minnesota frontier as the Dakotas clashed with settlers and federal troops, all the while searching for allies in their struggle. Once the uprising was smashed and the Dakotas captured, a military commission was convened, which quickly found more than three hundred Indians guilty of murder. President Lincoln, embroiled in the most devastating period of the Civil War, personally intervened in order to spare the lives of 265 of the condemned men, but the toll on the Dakota nation was still staggering: a way of life destroyed, a tribe forcibly relocated to barren and unfamiliar territory, and 38 Dakota warriors hanged--the largest government-sanctioned execution in American history. Scott W. Berg recounts the conflict through the stories of several remarkable characters, including Little Crow, who foresaw how ruinous the conflict would be for his tribe; Sarah Wakefield, who had been captured by the Dakotas, then vilified as an "Indian lover" when she defended them; Minnesota bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple, who was a tireless advocate for the Indians' cause; and Lincoln, who transcended his own family history to pursue justice. Written with uncommon immediacy and insight, "38 Nooses" details these events within the larger context of the Civil War, the history of the Dakota people, and the subsequent United States-Indian wars. It is a revelation of an overlooked but seminal moment in American history.

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Author information

Born and raised in the Twin Cities, Scott W. Berg holds a BA in architecture from the University of Minnesota, an MA from Miami University of Ohio, and an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University, where he now teaches writing and literature. The author of "Grand Avenues: The Story of Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the French Visionary Who Designed Washington, D.C., " he is a regular contributor to "The Washington Post."

Review quote

"Kirkus Reviews "has named "38 Nooses" a Best Nonfiction Book of 2012. "Berg positions the book with the perfect focal length, tight enough to include fascinating and fleshed-out characters such as Little Crow, a skillful leader cursed with the gift of foresight, the captive-turned-supporter of the Indians Sarah Wakefield, and Lincoln himself, but also wide enough to capture the moral arc of the entire nation." --"The Daily Beast," "Hot Reads" "Impressive. . . . Alongside his portrait of Lincoln, Berg makes vivid his other protagonists. . . It is Little Crow who, from the opening pages, stand tallest in the reader's mind." --"USA Today " "Scott W. Berg reminds us in his splendid new book . . . that the Civil War was only part of the nation's crises in that era. . . . Berg does a remarkable job with the story and its aftermath, drawing on memoirs, contemporary reports and presidential papers to re-create--and offer an easy road map through--a complicated narrative." --Scott Martelle (author of "Detroit: A Biography")," Los Angeles Times " "Superb. . . . "38 Nooses "is an imposing work, a moving story of an event enveloped within the most calamitous four years in American annals, and a book proving that obscure does not translate to unimportant when applied to events in history." --"Dallas Morning News" "Engrossing. . . . Berg's finely grained portraits of the protagonists and antagonists humanize the conflict." --"Minneapolis Star-Tribune" "Although Berg's sympathies are clearly with the Dakota, he avoids preaching and strives successfully to present a balanced narrative of the conflict while providing excellent portrayals of some of the key participants. This is a valuable but understandably depressing account of an obscure but important episode in our history." --"Booklist " "This fascinating book examines the opening salvo in the U.S. conquest of the Great Plains and is highly recommended for all r