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One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

One Thousand White Women (1998)

by Jim Fergus

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I found this book incredibly captivating but I admit that I was disappointed in the ending. ( )
  stellar32383 | Sep 21, 2015 |
The story set up is great, but the way the author decided to write the book is seriously flawed. A lot of things make no sense, or are not well thought through. People become caricatures of their ethnicity or background, not detailed persons. Nowhere is it explained how the author of the book (the main person) could have so much time and possibility to write so much, for example on a moving, shaking train through the United States in the 1800s. The author is obsessed with certain details (such as sex and clothing) and forgets about the other things that impact life. In a sense, the whole book is a caricature, not a very reasonable and historically accurate story. I gave up after about 130 pages. ( )
  klockrike | Sep 1, 2015 |
I'm giving it one and a half stars because I was interested enough in the characters to finish it, but otherwise, eh.

Here we have an interesting alternate history - apparently a Cheyenne chief really did suggest to the BIA that if the US would send 1000 white women to marry his braves, it would result in peace between the nations. This speculates on what would have happened, in the form of a journal and letters by one of them.

I'm afraid her voice isn't that of a 19th century woman, even one who has been sent to an asylum by her family for her promiscuity (living as the common law wife of a man whose status is beneath her and bearing him two children.) She's far too worldly and liberal minded about marrying an Indian and about a black woman in the group. Oh yeah, I forgot all the other characters who are equally one dimensional and are all stereotypes (Amazonian black woman, proper Englishwoman, good hearted lady mule skinner, broke down Southern belle, red haired Irish ex-con twins (who marry twin Indians AND EACH HAVE TWINS - kill me now please)) who all talk in embarrassing phonetic accents.

Daniel over on Goodreads made the excellent suggestion that the book would be more interesting if it were unclear whether she was unfairly persecuted by her family or if she was really crazy. ( )
  piemouth | Jul 14, 2015 |
Interesting book about a woman, committed to an insane asylum by her family, because of her supposed promiscuity. She is released on her agreement to live with the Cheyennes for a period of two years. Good book, but much too long. Could have been improved by tightening the writing. ( )
  Pmaurer | Jul 7, 2015 |
***Spoilers ahead***

I had mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it is a beautiful story - full of descriptions of the Cheyenne Indian way of life and how May Dodd and the other white women adapted to it. On the other hand, it did seem completely ridiculous. The author seemed to assign a terrible cultural stereotype to each of the white women; from the fat Swiss girl with huge breasts and a terribly thick accent where pronunciation of words were phonetically spelt; to pale, red headed Irish twins who were devoutly Catholic and had incredibly thick accents also. The stereotypical descriptions of these women and many others (including English, African and a Southern Belle) were so over the top and ridiculous it ruined the whole story.

As many other reviewers have noted, the fact that a man wrote this from the perspective of a 19th century woman - it just didn't work. The whole plot device of using the journals to tell the story was lazy. May Dodd managed to keep a perfect chronological record of everything that happens around her even as she lay dying?! I mean if I got shot and was freezing to death, spending my last moments scribbling in a stupid book would just not happen.

Despite all of the books terrible faults, I actually did enjoy the story. The ending was so sad, reflecting the very tragic way in which the native Americans had their way of life brutally decimated. It left me feeling pretty depressed. ( )
  KittyBimble | Feb 22, 2015 |
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Women will love her, that she is a woman

More worth than any man; men that she is
The rarest of all women.

- William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale, V.1
To Dillon
First words
23 March 1875: Today is my birthday, and I have received the greatest gift of all - freedom!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
One Thousand White Women begins with May Dodd's journey west into the unknown. A government program, in which woman are brought west as brides for the Cheyenne, is her vehicle. What follows is the story of May's adventures: her marriage to Little Wolf, chief of the Cheyenne nation, and her conflict of being caught between two worlds, loving two men, living two lives. Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312199430, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:32 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

An Indian request in 1854 for 1,000 white brides to ensure peace is secretly approved by the U.S. government in this alternate-history novel. Their journey west is described by May Dodd, a high-society woman released from an asylum where she was incarcerated by her family for an affair.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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