Another Nez Perce Book

William Vollman’s new novel, The Dying Grass: A Novel of the Nez Perce War, is getting rave reviews. I have it, have glanced at the first few pages and looked at the extended notes and acknowledgements—and hoisted the 1350 page and what must be five-pound volume—but have not begun reading it. I am waiting for a five or six hour piece of time to take the plunge—seeing it and reading reviews having convinced me that I cannot do it justice or give myself an honest go at it in bedtime snatches.

But I have been thinking about it, and thinking about how the Nez Perce story captured Alvin Josephy 65 years ago and continues to capture writers and readers 138 years after the Nez Perce War put it on the front pages of New York newspapers. So this is a quick—pre-Vollman book-read—meditation on the enduring and captivating nature of the Nez Perce Story.

1. The Nez Perce came to national Read The Article

Invisible women


Alvin Josephy cried loud and often about the omission of Indians from textbook histories, and often thanked the amateur historians—the “history buffs”—for keeping Western history alive when serious historians busied themselves with government reports and people and events considered major and somehow central to the American story.
Alvin’s Civil War in the American West pulled together material from across the region and integrated it with goings on in Washington and the Eastern War. That is the war that still plays on the main stage in American popular history and American film, but Gordon Chappell has pulled together a 24 page bibliography of books and pamphlets on the subject—he omits journal and magazine articles in the interest of brevity—that includes material “since Josephy.” Interesting that it appears as a National Park Service document: http://www.nps.gov/history/history/resedu/civil_war_west.pdf.  So the history buffs keep plowing the turf in the shadow of “Lincoln” and Daniel Day
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