A richly informative investigation of a tragic episode.

CALIFORNIA STANDOFF

MINERS, INDIANS AND FARMERS AT WAR, 1850-1865

Desperate Native Americans and settlers fight bloody battles for land, vengeance, and acorns in this historical study.

Shover (Exploring Chico’s Past and Other Essays, 2005, etc.), a former political science professor, examines the violent clashes in Northern California’s Butte and Tehama counties between Maidu bands and whites flooding into the area after the gold rush. Underlying the bloodshed was a dynamic of dispossession. White farmers excluded the Maidu from the Sierra Nevada foothills and Sacramento River Valley, denying them access to oak groves where they harvested their crop of acorns and forcing them to winter in the barren mountains. Meanwhile, white miners built dams in mountain streams, ruining the fishing the Maidu relied on. The Maidu responded with raids on white settlements to steal food, rustle cattle, burn houses, and, on occasion, murder families. Settlers retaliated tenfold with expeditions that led to massacres that killed hundreds of Maidu over the years, many of them innocent of any offense, culminating in forced removals to reservations under appalling conditions in which numerous people died of hunger and disease. Within this broader narrative of racial strife, the author paints a fine-grained, engrossing portrait of a more complex reality of mixed motives and shifting alliances. Different Maidu “tribelets” fought one another, with Mountain Maidu attacking Valley Maidu, who worked peacefully on white ranches and fought alongside settlers (and sometimes betrayed them). White miners, some of whom had children with Native American women, often collaborated with the Maidu and opposed farmers’ retaliation. At the center of the action is the ambiguous figure of John Bidwell, a land baron who sheltered Maidu and opposed their transfer to reservations—mainly because he wanted their cheap labor for his operations. There is enough real-life drama in this sprawling saga for a half-dozen anti-Westerns, with brutal violence on all sides, economic exploitation, political chicanery, treachery, and persistent uncertainty about who was a friend or enemy among suspicious factions who barely understood one another. The absorbing account reads as a more evenly matched contest than might be supposed. Compensating for their lack of numbers and modern weapons, the warlike Maidu deployed superb guerrilla tactics, running circles around settler posses blundering through their rugged canyons—until dedicated white trackers learned their methods and caught up with them in their mountain redoubts. Drawing on a wealth of documentary sources along with Native American oral histories, Shover provides a well-researched, intricate, and nuanced account of the kaleidoscopic conflict. She teases out the niceties of who killed whom and why, prunes exaggerations and misinterpretations of previous historians, and is cleareyed but fair in her judgments. At times, her narrative is confusingly crosscut and fragmented, and her prose, while lucid and brisk, is somewhat dry and academic; it can seem a bit flat for the events described. (Bidwell’s associate Harmon Good “made prisoners of a small” Native American “child and its mother whom…he intended to deliver to Bidwell’s rancheria. However, when the woman refused to go with them, one of the men killed her, so they took the child.”) Still, this is a fine addition to the scholarly literature on this epic of frontier injustice.

A richly informative investigation of a tragic episode.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-935807-15-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Stansbury Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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