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

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  341 Ratings  ·  66 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)
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Mar 05, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bobby D
Dec 15, 2012 Bobby D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Carey J
Dec 26, 2012 Carey J rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 18, 2013 Sheila rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Mar 11, 2013 Mmars rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
“A nation which sowed robbery would reap a harvest of blood.”
~ Bishop Henry Whipple, letter to Abraham Lincoln, March 1862

In August of 1862, President Lincoln is weighed heavily by continued criticisms of his slave ideology and by the danger of a Confederate invasion of the North by Robert E. Lee. Lincoln's commanding general, George B. McClellan, has been slow in his movements and growing more infuriating. By August 29th, Lee and James Longstreet have joined and commenced battle with the Union
Mar 01, 2017 Kkraemer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Scott Berg weaves the Native American situation in the upper midwest with the background of the Civil War and even the Mexican-American war to show the prejudices and possibilities of that intensely political time.

The center of the story is the raids on American settlements in southern Minnesota, raids that were, at once, brutal and shocking and utterly understandable. The result, predictably, was the beginning of the end of any hope that the first people might have harbored about resisting the
Apr 21, 2014 Hartungt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 05, 2013 Sherry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael Morgan
Jan 14, 2015 Michael Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
38 Nooses is a good primer on the relationship between the FED.GOV and the Native Americans. It explains the failure of FED.GOV to honor existing treaties with the Native Nations, and to control the corruption that grows up around every Fed.Gov institution.

One topic I was very surprised to see included was a discussion of the plans for dealing with the freedmen after the Civil War ended. Very few authors will touch this subject at all because it exposes the Union's hypocrisy, and lays bare the a
Jan 25, 2016 Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book looks at a series of individual stories from the US-Dakota war and ties them in to the events of the conflict, and the greater arena of United States history. The author tells the tale with digestible and easy to read prose, and most importantly manages to rein in Eurocentric bias far more than many other scholarly works relating the war's events and aftermath.
Curt Rude
Mar 07, 2017 Curt Rude rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love a book that is unabashed in its pursuit of the truth. For so long it seemed like The U.S. was frightened to look in the mirror and realize all's not well. Only the truth can set us free - right?
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
Feb 23, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Gene Pisasale
Jul 25, 2013 Gene Pisasale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Susan Bennett
Dec 20, 2014 Susan Bennett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you don't know much about the Sioux uprising of 1862, you will when you read this book. More than historical facts and numbers, the book presents the history of this event in a narrative history style that engages you from the beginning. I also gained a better understanding of the reasons for the uprising. As an example, Dakota warriors being told that they can eat dirt when they try to pick up their annual annuity payments (guaranteed them by a recent treaty) and tribes being caught in a rev ...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
Mar 03, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by: Fiona
A few years ago, I read a biography of Sitting Bull and was struck by the amount of military action supporting white westward expansion during the Civil War. I wondered why was sending Union soldiers to fight the Sioux a priority, what was Lincoln (who was never mentioned in the book) doing.

This book discusses some of those questions.

Of course, I am aware of Manifest Destiny, greed for land and raw materials, and the quote "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."
Nevertheless, I was naively unpre
Todd Price
Jul 28, 2014 Todd Price rated it liked it
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
WM Rine
Jun 02, 2013 WM Rine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Was kind of skeptical beforehand, but there arent many texts out about Dakota 38 , and I figured it may give me more perspectives and things to look into. Specifically been wondering about Lincoln's complicity with the execution. Its common knowledge (for those informed on Dakota 38 enough to acknowledge it) that he signed off on the execution. But that doesnt give any specific context to govt officials involved other historical events at the time that influenced that decision. Overall it really ...more
Jan 08, 2013 Rob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 19, 2012 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Jul 31, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 19, 2013 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 14, 2014 Janis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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.
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