An unforgiving look at the battles between the white settlers of the mid-1800s and the Dakota, offering an illuminating...

THE THIRTY-NINTH MAN

A NOVEL OF THE 1862 UPRISING

A debut historical novel details the events that led to the Dakota War in the 19th-century Midwest.

Swanson begins his tale as a Native American surrenders his daughter to a white fur trader as bounty on a lost wager. About nine months later, the “half-breed” Annawon “Anton” McAllister is born to the forfeited daughter. Anton is raised by his mother, who teaches him many of her Algonquin ways, including hunting and tracking. His mother dies when he is still young, and he must make his own way. As he matures, he straddles the worlds of whites and Native Americans. He works for many years as chief hunter and scout for the Army, growing close with some of its members, visiting trading posts, and learning the ways of local fur traders. In Anton’s young adulthood, a friend named Tomawka, a Native American, is killed by a wolf. Anton feels responsible for the man’s wife, Star Woman, and the couple’s infant son.  Quickly becoming attached to the widow and child, Anton resolves to settle with them and forge a new family. Meanwhile, tension builds between the Dakota (part of the Great Sioux Nation) and the American government. In his engaging story, Swanson shows the U.S. repeatedly failing to honor treaties it has with the Dakota. As the Dakota lose land and concomitant hunting rights, hunger ensues, followed by increased violence. The author graphically depicts the bloodshed and hostilities that result as the Dakota take their revenge on white settlers. This lengthy and well-researched tale is so specific that it often reads more like a historical account than a novel, providing comprehensive exposition on one topic after another. Chock full of details about the Midwestern territories, the different Native American tribes inhabiting the region, land disputes, cultural differences, and methods of fighting, the book delivers an engrossing education for readers seeking to learn about this period.

An unforgiving look at the battles between the white settlers of the mid-1800s and the Dakota, offering an illuminating perspective on Native American history.

Pub Date: June 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9863267-1-4

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Rainy River Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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