Wild West



The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West

(2016, by Peter Cozzens): This broad examination of the conflict from 1865 to 1890 provides a balanced, nuanced counterweight to the Indian wars books that don’t consider both the injustice to Indians and the U.S. Army’s “real role in those tragic times.” Cozzens presents the white and Indian perspectives of that bleak legacy. Among other noteworthy insights is the author’s examination of the “insoluble dilemma” caused by the Black Hills gold rush, which forced President Ulysses S. Grant to choose between the Indians and the voters—a choice that bore bitter fruit on the Little Bighorn River in June 1876.

Counting Coup and Cutting Horses: Intertribal Warfare on the Northern Plains, 1738–1889 (1990, by Anthony R. McGinnis): Long before whites appeared on the Plains, intertribal warfare was a way of life, its extent and impact limited only by the absence of horses and firearms. McGinnis demonstrates that the Indians’ acquisition of the horse and gun expanded and intensified intertribal conflict over hunting grounds, stolen horses and scalp taking. He also notes that peace accords such as the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which were intended to end wars between the tribes and white Americans, had only limited success.

38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow and the Beginning of the Frontier’s End (2012, by Scott W. Berg): This poignant, sympathetic yet balanced view of the 1862 Dakota War in Minnesota is based almost exclusively on primary sources. Berg documents the key role President Abraham Lincoln and his legal experts had in reviewing the trials of the 303 Dakota men sentenced to death by a military commission for their alleged participation in the conflict. The uprising and Christmas executions of 38 of those convicted, he concludes, “sparked the sequence of confrontations called the Indian Wars of the Northwest, which would culminate in such indelible moments as the Battle of the Little Bighorn, the flight of Chief Joseph, the killing of Crazy Horse and the tragedy at Wounded Knee.”

(2009, by Elliott West): This sad, riveting story exemplifies the quest for gold and silver

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