One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

One Thousand White Women

Rating: * * * * *

One thousand white women – that was the demand of the Northern Cheyenne, led by Little Wolf. One thousand white women to bear the next generation of Cheyenne, to teach Little Wolf’s people the life which they were expected to soon live among the white people. A preposterous request – they would be exchanged for one thousand wild and tamed horses – and one which the civilized would never dream of granting.

And yet women volunteered in droves – to explore, to christianize the “savages,” to seek freedom from asylums and prisons, to escape…

The sign of an amazing novel is that its content can address harsh topics such as rape, murder, infanticide and betrayal yet still be remembered fondly and soberly. It was difficult to read, true, but I could not put it down – the unfailing courage and difficult choices continued to surprise and capture me.

All the characters were highly satisfactory – none were god-like in quality but the evil were evil and the good simply humans with real, understandable faults. By focusing much of the perspective on May, the struggles between the Cheyenne and the “whites” were truly portrayed without bias. Fergus sugarcoats nothing, preferring to illustrate each civilization as fully as possible, and leave it to the reader to lay or reserve judgment.

I picked this book up without knowing what its subject matter would be – there was no summary on the back – but it immediately stole my attention, keeping me engrossed until its end.

If you choose to read this, be prepared for a heavy but extremely memorable read.

Highly recommended.

& ElizabethC

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