38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier's End
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier's End

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  205 ratings  ·  50 reviews
In August 1862, after decades of broken treaties, increasing hardship, and relentless encroachment on their lands, a group of Dakota warriors convened a council at the tepee of their leader, Little Crow. Knowing the strength and resilience of the young American nation, Little Crow counseled caution, but anger won the day. Forced to either lead his warriors in a war he knew...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published December 4th 2012 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2012)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about 38 Nooses, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about 38 Nooses

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 595)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
The Great Sioux Uprising (as it is commonly known) of 1862 has always held a particular interest for me. It occurred, first of all, in my home state of Minnesota, so I am personally familiar with many of the massacre and battle sites. When I was young, my dad took me on a weekend’s tour of the Upper and Lower Sioux Agencies, Fort Ridgely, and the town of New Ulm.

For me, a second early attraction of the uprising was its generally horrific nature. Before you demand that I go back in time and see...more
Paul Pessolano
“38 Nooses, Lincoln, Little Crow, and the beginning of the Frontier’s End”, by Scott W. Berg, published by Pantheon Books.

Category – History

Three hundred Dakota Indians were sentenced to be hanged, but Abraham Lincoln intervened and only upheld the death sentence for forty while the rest were given jail sentences. Of the Forty, thirty eight were hanged, the largest government sanctioned execution in American history.

One could say it call began when the white man continued to break promises and t...more
The sweep of the American Frontier is in many ways the story of the sweeping away of the American Indian. Although Scott W. Berg does not use the term genocide in this new book it is the overall power of that crime that fills his pages. Here we learn of what I believe may be an event many readers have not heard of. That in 1862 during the hard fought early days of the Civil War a band of young Dakota warriors went on a killing spree in the new state of Minnesota savaging several hundred white se...more
Carey J
I began reading this book on December 26th, the 150th anniversary of the largest mass hanging in the United States. Being a Minnesotan, I was familiar with the story of the Dakota War, but this well written account gave me a much deeper insight into the motivations, events and people involved in the conflict. This summer, I visited a couple important places in this conflict, and I know most of the places mentioned in the book, so again, as a Minnesotan, I really connected to the geography of the...more
May 02, 2013 Sheila rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history geeks, Minnesotans
Recommended to Sheila by: local media mentions about the Dakota War
A revealing look at Minnesota history, Scott Berg's work is a true eye opener as to the reality behind the events of the Dakota War and all of the famous names associated with it. As the old saw goes,"[H]istory is written by the victors." However in this case, Berg does a great job of presenting the view of events from all sides through an extensive knowledge of the people and places involved. I was absolutely stunned by the breadth and depth of his research of an enormous series of intertwined...more
This excellent historical account of America in the 1860s belongs in every public and academic library in the country. No reading of Abraham Lincoln's presidency is complete without this account of his role in the events leading up to the largest public hanging in American history and no history of minority cultures in America should be told without this thoroughly researched narrative of Little Crow and the plight of the Dakota Sioux in Minnesota.

This is as straight-forward and neutral a telli...more
This is a new entry into the “Bury My Heart…” genre, enumerating and illustrating the tragic history of American/Indian relations. Obviously you know who loses from jump, but it is still a fascinating story weaving events and people from far and wide in the scope of American history. Lincoln and his cabinet are certainly familiar figures and military buffs will recognize many of the principals but this is history on the local scale. It is a small, but important, slice of the history of the settl...more
I had not heard of this event until I saw a panel discussion on C-Span about the Dakota War. I wanted to know more. I have read a lot about Lincoln and have come to think he may be our greatest president ever. To find out that something this horrific happened during his tenure and that he actually approved these hangings motivated me to find out more about the event. This book helped me to better understand the time and the event. I also read this book right after reading "Rise to Greatness", w...more
Todd Price
Berg does an excellent job in relating a relatively unknown event in American history. His dedication to balance(admitting wrongdoing by both sides) is superb. As an individual that reads many works about Euro-American/Native American conflict, I can attest to the fact that many writers find it difficult to strike that balance and not stray too far in support of one side or another. Despite Berg's mastery of the topic and detachment from blame, I hate to admit that I didn't find the narrative as...more
Kathleen Hagen
38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier's End, by Scott W. Berg, borrowed from the National Library Service for the Blind Library and recorded by Minnesota State Services for the Blind.

This is a riveting book pulling together everything that was happening in 1862 concerning Indian massacres in Minnesota, and the White backlash, along with the ongoing civil war. It is a detailed history of how the two things intercepted in Abraham Lincoln, and the ultimate hanging of th...more
This well-crafted account of the 1862 Dakota War held me from start to finish. The bloody uprising, fueled by decades of mistreatment and broken treaties, left hundreds of Minnesota’s white settlers murdered and led to the eventual displacement of the Dakota bands. Hundreds of Indians were condemned to death by a military tribunal; Abraham Lincoln pored over the records and pardoned most – 38 were executed by hanging. Berg tells the complex story well, and brings the people and the era to vivid...more
For history buffs and anyone who has an interest in the many events surrounding the Civil War, "38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow and the Beginning of the Frontier's End" by Scott Berg is an interesting look at a little known aspect of this great conflict. Many people are familiar with the large battles of the Civil War- Antietam, Shiloh, Gettysburg and others- but few are aware that President Lincoln had another war on his hands at the same time- this one with the Dakota Indians out in Minnesota...more
At the beginning of the American Civil War, a decades old problem of annuity distribution amongs the Dakota Indians of Minnesota took a turn for the worse. With their children starving, primarily because of the corruption and open credit lines provided by traders and contractors, several Indians got drunk and murdered a white family. Suddenly, on the reservation, the Indians decided in a minor riot to break into white homes and warehouses and take the supplies so desperately needed. This resulte...more
Last year I realized that my knowledge about Native American history was pathetically lacking and I felt I needed to do something to remedy that. When I heard about this book, it caught my attention immediately as a fascinating topic.

Little Crow and his Dakota were involved the The Dakota War in 1862, in the middle of the Civil War, and there is a direct line from this incident to Crazy Horse and the Indian success at Little Big Horn, followed a few years later by the Massacre at Wounded Knee, w...more
This book was very interesting for me because it involves the history of my home turf. The precipitating events that sparked off this story occurred very close to where I grew up and Little Crow was killed not far from where I live now. I thought this was a pretty fair telling of events. No one was blameless for what happened and it's really important to remember the mistakes that were made. The author did a really good job of intertwining the events of the Civil War that were also going on at t...more
The Dakota Indians in 1862 in Minnesota facing pressures from white settlers and broken treaties sparked a conflict that led to massacres on both sides. This is another sad chapter in American history that involved President Lincoln at the height of the Civil War. This story depicts the consequences when two different cultures face each other in the remote wilderness with both just trying to survive.
The Indian Wars that followed over the next few decades is a tragic legacy of our country.

Curt Peterson
After finishing this book, I can only shake my head at this incredible stain on Minnesota's history. It's hard to believe, in our "enlightened" age, that after the 1862 uprising, white Minnesotans were calling for the extermination of the Indian race and were, in fact, offering a $25 bounty for the scalp of any "free" Indian. What's, perhaps, even more tragic is that today, while living in the middle of three reservations and observing the interactions between the races daily in my job, we have...more
Sam Motes
A very deep look at the events that lead to the Dakota uprising and it's aftermath. Truly a story of pushing a people to the point of having nothing to loose that unleashes a whirlwind of destruction and hatred on both sides. The rush to judgement and drive to exterminate a people for the acts of a few is very relevant to the world dynamics of today. I highly recommend this read for history buffs as well as anyone grappling with the religious and factional rifts pulling our world apart today.
Christopher Saunders
Details the 1862 Dakota War in Minnesota. Berg does a fine job sketching in the conflicts background, where tensions between Little Crow's Dakota tribe and intrusive white settlers grew intolerable, and a random act of violence by drunken Indians led to wholesale massacre of settlers and inevitable retaliation. Berg's most interesting conceit is contrasting Abraham Lincoln's moral high-mindedness re: the Civil War and emancipation with his patronizing indifference towards Indian matters - thoug...more
WM Rine
This is how you do narrative history. Berg takes the stories of four different people with very different roles in the Dakota War to illustrate its sad and tangled roots and the unfortunate way it played out. It's one of many shameful episodes in the long history of relations between the US government and the sovereign Indian nations that happened to be the native residents of the places we progressively wanted to claim. This episode, taking place during the low point in the Civil War, is almost...more
Neill Goltz
5-star recommendation. This book spoke to me on so many levels: personal, geographic-sense-of-place, simulacrity (?) with more well-known events of Civil War. The historical nuggets are amazing. For example, the uprising meant that orders for newly levied white troops from Minnesota meant to be sent up for reinforcements for the Federal armies couldn't be fulfilled, causing Lincoln now approve the use of black troops with the Union armies, a reversal of the existing policy.

Extremely well-researc...more
While this is a fascinating story, this book was a little frustrating from a structural perspective. I have no problem expanding the story of a single six-week conflict into a book-length work, but Berg here seems to jump from topic to topic with a decided lack of narrative and chronological flow. Portions of the work, especially too-detailed summaries of events of the Civil War that are included ostensibly to show (a) Lincoln was distracted! and (b) Native Americans never received the benefit o...more
I admit to bias against Indians--it was the casinos. I am definitely not a fan. After reading this book, that bias has vanished. I am still not a fan of gambling casinos, but Scott Berg's telling of the Dakota Wars in 1862 Minnesota changed my views forever regarding this nation's immoral treatment of the Native American population. I chose this book because the Wars happened in the area where my ancestors settled when the turmoil and killing had ceased. This history adds depth to my understandi...more
I really appreciated this book and the perspective it provided. Being from South St Paul a home of Little Crow brought the story close to home for me
I wondered how I could never have heard of this episode in history until I realized they were talking about the Sioux Uprising and that it all happened at the very same time some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War were being fought. Still, I knew virtually nothing about the tragic events that unfolded in Minnesota in the fall of 1862. The story is very well told from several different points of view including that of a a well-meaning Episcopalian crusader and an elusive and fascinating wo...more
Gail Goodrick
I was hooked by the title and decided to give this book a try. I was so glad I did because I knew absolutely nothing about this little "war" in Minnesota. It's another sad story of how badly Native Americans were treated in the 19th century. At least there were a few good folks trying to advocate for them. Fortunately Lincoln did give a reprieve to many of the men rounded up and destined to hang. Although it sounds like the survivors didn't fare very well either. It's a sad story but one that sh...more
Bill Bennett
Indians make treaty with white men. White men screw Indians. Indians massacre white men. White men massacre Indians. And so it went during the United States glorious 19th century. A well written and researched book, "38 Nooses" sheds light on what may have been the first coordinated Indian uprising on the western frontier and the politics involved in the governments response. Very Interesting for the history buff. Not too interesting if you're looking for a shoot 'em up cowboys and Indians saga...more
Morris Massre
This should be required school reading as far as I am concerned. It really sheds a lot if light on President Lincoln and his indifference concerning Native Indians. What's more upsetting is the fact that he gave the green light to hang 38 Indians for crimes against whites when these people were considered a sovereign nation, which makes it illegal in the first place. Not to mention the fact that he never punished any whites for their crimes against Indians.
Andy Anderson
While Lincoln was focused on the War Between the States, Little Crow and his small band of Dakotas was wrecking havoc in Minnesota. Another sad commentary of the frustration of broken promises and graft in the lives of native Americans. His killing of Minnesota settlers set off another chain reaction of killing and driving his people into further despair. A intriguing story of Lincoln, Little Crow and the preacher Whipple who tried to intervene.
Because of the 150th anniversary of the US-Dakota war last year, this topic has been resurrected in many circles. This book provided a broader historical context and tried to tell both sides of a story that has been only looked at from the side of the winners for a long time. This story is one of many that forces the recognition of the horrors white settlers imposed on the Native people, and illuminates a wound that has yet to close.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 19 20 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation
  • A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico
  • Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War
  • A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape
  • When the Mississippi Ran Backwards: Empire, Intrigue, Murder, and the New Madrid Earthquakes
  • The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies
  • The Turquoise Ledge: A Memoir
  • Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865
  • The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden
  • Part Wild: One Woman's Journey with a Creature Caught Between the Worlds of Wolves and Dogs
  • Hell on Two Wheels: An Astonishing Story of Suffering, Triumph, and the Most Extreme Endurance Race in the World
  • Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power
  • 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History
  • Shooting Victoria: Madness, Mayhem, and the Rebirth of the British Monarchy
  • The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon
  • So Far from God: The U.S. War With Mexico, 1846-1848
  • Prairie Fever: British Aristocrats in the American West 1830-1890
  • The Heartsong of Charging Elk
Born and raised in the Twin Cities, SCOTT W. BERG holds a BA in architecture from the University of Minnesota, an MA from Miami University of Ohio, and an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University, where he now teaches nonfiction writing and literature. He is a regular contributor to The Washington Post.
More about Scott W. Berg...
Grand Avenues: The Story of the French Visionary Who Designed Washington, D.C. Grand Avenues

Share This Book