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Devil's Backbone: The Modoc War, 1872-3 (The Plainsmen #5)

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  96 Ratings  ·  4 Reviews
The Modoc Indians and American officials had been flirting with war in the Oregon Territory for some time. When Modoc chief Keintpoos murdered a Civil War hero during negotiations, the U.S. Army launched a deadly offensive against the rebel tribe. Besieged in the natural stronghold of the Lava Beds near Tule Lake, the Modocs waged bloody war for seven long months.

Paperback, 448 pages
Published August 15th 1991 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
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Mar 27, 2016 Shawn rated it it was amazing
Reading a Terry Johnston book is like a long conversation with an old and dear friend who has sad tale to tell. Extremely satisfying and you feel as if you learned a great deal in the end. I knew virtually nothing of the Modoc War in 1873, nothing except the leader of the Modocs was a chief by the name of Captain Jack. I learned that Captain Jack was more of a tool of a virulent faction of Modoc priests and sub-chiefs with such colorful names as Shack Nasty Jim, Bogus Charley, Curly Headed ...more
Bob Cantrell
Aug 15, 2016 Bob Cantrell rated it it was amazing
This was more of a historical narrative than historical fiction, which is not a bad thing. As I read this volume in the Plainsmen series I was reminded of Dee Brown's book on the Fetterman Massacre. This book showcased what was happening in the West in the name of progress. The Indians had to go. This time it was the Modocs a small tribe that just wanted to live on their land not the lands of another tribe. Seamus Donegan shows up in the Modoc War as a man, who has found a missing uncle. This ...more
Jul 07, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it
It takes a little getting used to how Johnston writes but it gets easier with every book.

#5 in his Plainsmen Series gives good detail in the struggles of Captain Jack (Modoc chief Keintpoos) to maintain his standing as the leader of his people. It also details how a small group fighting for their home were able to keep a much larger US Army force at bay for a few months.

The added fiction with Seamus Donegan helps to pull in the factual parts of the story although I expected more drama after he f
Jeff Genest
Oct 14, 2013 Jeff Genest rated it really liked it
I lived in Klamath Falls for many years, visited Lava Caves National Monument frequently and became very familiar with the story of Captain Jack and his tribe's battle with the US army for the right to live in their ancestral home so I was eager to see if Terry Johnston's factionalized version would breath life into these historical figures and the events. I was not disappointed. Having walked the same ground where Canby was killed and hiked through the jagged landscape to where the Modocs held ...more
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Terry C. Johnston was born January 1, 1947 in Arkansas City, KS.
Nineteen publishers rejected Johnston's first novel, Carry the Wind, before it was printed in 1982. However, this first novel was to gain the honor of receiving the Western Writers of America Medicine Pipe Bearer's Award for best first fiction. Johnston is known for his eye for historical detail, and he is a stickler for accuracy.
More about Terry C. Johnston...

Other Books in the Series

The Plainsmen (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • Sioux Dawn: The Fetterman Massacre, 1866
  • Red Cloud's Revenge: Showdown On The Northern Plains, 1867
  • The Stalkers: The Battle Of Beecher Island, 1868
  • Black Sun: The Battle of Summit Springs, 1869
  • Shadow Riders: The Southern Plains Uprising, 1873
  • Dying Thunder: The Battle Of Adobe Walls & Palo Canyon, 1874
  • Blood Song: The Battle of Powder River and the Beginning of the Great Sioux War of 1876
  • Reap the Whirlwind: The Battle of the Rosebud, June 1876
  • Trumpet on the Land: The Aftermath of Custer's Massacre, 1876
  • A Cold Day in Hell: The Dull Knife Battle, 1876

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