Welcome to the inaugural post of my Summer Reading Campaign. Hope you will enjoy my selections. Every Sunday evening, from now to the week before Labor Day, I will recommend one book and of course hope you will read it. These aren't necessarily reviews, and yeah, there may be a spoiler or two, but come on--most folks read a book based some tease of the spoiler anyway, okay? By the way RAFBN is an acronym for my favorite Hip Hop parody satire "Read a F--- book, N---" Satire's supposed to dig into deeper issues, so if you're offended by the acronym it usually means you're too shallow to get it. (wink)
The first selection is entitled One Thousand White Women, by Gary Fergus. No, the title's not about NFL groupies, or Reggie Bush or the USC hoops/football team's appetite. It is 1875. The Cheyenne Indians ponder the genocide of the East Coat and New England tribes over the course of 200 years. They've seen the futile battles of the Indians of the Midwest under Tecumseh. The so-called "Civilized" Tribes of Seminole, Creek, Choctaw and Cherokee in the South have been ripped from the their lands and hauled away to Oklahoma. They know it will only be a matter of time before the mighty Sioux fall dead on the plains, and the Apache are pried, bloodily, out of the desert. Their only hope of avoiding being erased: in return for ponies, disarming, getting out of the white man's way, they will ask for 1000 white women of breeding age. The aim? Marry them, learn from them, impregnate them, and build a generation of offspring that will have the rights of Americans and thus help the Cheyenne assimilate into this terrifying new world. These children will carry at least some tiny seed and memory of the Cheyenne people forward. Better that than be wiped out.
The chiefs travel to Washington to make a peace plea to President Grant. Though already beseiged by claims of corruption and the drain of Reconstruction in the South, the Grant Administration agrees to a sit-down. The First Lady literally faints dead away when the chiefs share their plans at a White House luncheon in their honor. The 19th Century equivalents of O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity go ape in their newpspaer columns. The Indians barely get out without being lynched...yet secretly, Grant assents to the request. Might not be a bad idea--pacifying the Indians without killing them all. So the word quietly goes out to prisons, debt farms, young womens homes (reform schools/orphanages for teenage girls), lunatic asylums. Along with women who willingly want to start over--including some freed slaves who see nothing but terror and ruin in the South and who likely want kids with good hair--the women arrive in the Dakotas. Chaos ensues...and not the happy sit-com kind.
Of course, this didn't really happen. This brand of historical fiction is a new one and breaths life in the genre. The narrative is that of a fiction character named Mary Dodd, who's sprung from a mental hospital as part of the brides-for-Injuns plot.
Not good for a beach read, but beats picking your ass whilst you wait in airports, train depots, on Metro platforms, in traffic (as a passenger...safety first) or as your kid's in line registering for summer camp. Read and learn...