Jim Fergus – One Thousand White Women (1998)

OneThousandWhiteWomen

Jim Fergus’ book has so much potential; an alternative history about what would have happened if the United States government had granted the request from the Cheyenne Indians and sent them one thousand white brides. Unfortunately Fergus was not up to the task and this book did not impress me. While I am willing to concede that Fergus is passionate about his subject matter and has clearly done a lot of research on it, his writing style simply made this book almost unbearable.

Firstly the fact that Fergus, as a man, is writing a series of diary entries from a female perspective makes this whole story unbelievable. While I certainly do not know how a woman in May Dodd’s situation would act and think, I also do not believe Jim Fergus is the expert either. Secondly Fergus uses every and stereotype in the book, May Dodd’s husband is the strong silent Indian chief, and May’s compatriots comprise of a set of wily Irish twins, a racist Southern debutante, and a wise and kind Black woman. The cast of clichés sets the book up in an incredibly predictable fashion as May Dodd struggles to adjust to life amongst the Cheyenne’s first viewing them as savage but finally comes to the realization, through falling in love with her husband, that the Indians are no so different from herself.

I have no idea how the book ended as I simply stopped reading but my guess is that everyone is transformed for the better through their experience amongst the Cheyenne.

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