HELL WITH THE FIRE OUT by Arthur Quinn

HELL WITH THE FIRE OUT

A History of the Modoc War
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A vivid re-creation of an often overlooked episode in the Indian Wars. The Modoc War, fought in 186972, has largely been regarded as a sideshow in light of other, more famous campaigns, such as those against Crazy Horse and Cochise. Berkeley scholar Quinn, the author of several volumes of history (A New World, 1994, etc.), makes a solid case for why the war--really a series of skirmishes, some of them terribly bloody, on the Oregon-California border--should have a more central place in our historical canon. Noting that not all Modocs supported war leader Captain Jack and that not all white residents of the region supported the federal action against his band of warriors, Quinn proposes that the campaign be viewed not as another instance of ethnic-based genocide but as ``fundamentally a war between nations, the one very large, the other very small.'' In this war, the small nation held off the large one rather well, employing guerrilla tactics and fighting in a difficult landscape of lava beds and rough mountains, which led a federal officer to remark, ``I do not believe that a hundred thousand men in a hundred thousand years could construct such fortifications'' as the natural features in which the Modocs took refuge. As a result, the Americans sustained heavy losses and committed horrible atrocities in reprisal; the army also executed Captain Jack and his followers soon after their eventual surrender. Quinn's narrative is fluent, and at times even a little glib. Professional historians will not much like his generous use of invented dialogue, which will prevent the book from being taken as a serious study of these tragic events, but it is clear that the author has done his homework. As an introduction to the Modoc people and its unfortunate encounter with the American nation, Quinn's book serves well. (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 25th, 1997
ISBN: 0-571-19903-8
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1997




MORE BY ARTHUR QUINN

NonfictionTHE RIVALS by Arthur Quinn
by Arthur Quinn
NonfictionA NEW WORLD by Arthur Quinn
by Arthur Quinn

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionTHUNDER IN THE MOUNTAINS by Daniel J. Sharfstein
by Daniel J. Sharfstein