A curious and fascinating aspect of Americana which deals with the Plains Indians and the Metis, the mixed French and Indian peoples living in Manitoba and Sas atchewan. Joseph Kinsey Howard, who unfortunately died last year, was an historian of both skill and stature, and his ""Strange Empire"" here is that of Louis David Riel, the Metis leader who for a brief ten months in 1870 set up an independent Indian state in defiance of the Canadian government. It is a story told with dramatic flourish as well as deep insight into the antagonisms between Indians and white men, between Scotch and French settlers, Protestants and Catholics, and the old primitive way of life doomed by an oncoming industrialism. Bernard de Voto, who contributes an enthusiastic introduction, indicates how this is the first book which has told- for American readers-the story of the Metis rebellions which were so dramatic a menace to Canadian union "" and lighted such a strange hope of American expansion in Canada."" And it is, moreover, a sensitive picture of Riel and the half-breed mind, its dichotomies, its vacillations, its exaltation and mysticism, as well as a moving description of a leader destined to failure and death-by the rope.... A book of definite historical and regional merit, which may also attract a more scattered general audience.