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One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
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One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  63,152 ratings  ·  5,498 reviews
One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial "Brides for Indians" program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians i ...more
Paperback, 302 pages
Published February 15th 1999 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 1998)
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Community Reviews

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Daniel
Dear May Dodd,

I received your letter of 20 January 1876, accompanied by portions of your journal, and, in short, I'm not falling for it. They sound like they were written sometime in the 1990s, and probably by a man. While I found many reasons to come to this conclusion, the biggest giveaways were your obsession with penis size and the fact that your signature was followed by an AOL e-mail address.

Sincerely,
Disgruntled Reader

OK, that was a bit harsh and if for some reason Mr. Fergus is reading t
...more
Sara
This is somewhat erroneously in my "read" shelf. I did not finish reading it, so keep that in mind as far as this review goes. I applaud the author's project - historical fiction disguised as history proper (I tend to love things like that), it is a well-researched story told via the faux journals of a 19th-century white woman who went to live among the Cheyenne. My problem with this book is essentially that I did not ever buy the voice in which it is told - this problem has two tiers: First, it ...more
Hazel
I like historical fiction. I appreciate writers who take the time to research their stories well. I like to think that I'm catching up on some of the history I missed as the same time as enjoying a good read. I like journals and memoirs. And I jump at the chance to see history from the perspective of those who are usually written out of the history books. So I was quite enthusiastic when I heard about this novel which is written in the form of the journal of a nineteenth-century Yankee woman liv ...more
Chaybyrd
First let me say, it seems among GR readers that this book stinks. And I get the criticism, I do. However, I have to say that I found this an enjoyable read.

Yes, the voice of Ms. Dodd, our heroine, protagonist, would be feminist (well sort of pseudo feminist) - does sound more 20th Century and less like a believable 19th Century even 'modern' woman but honestly, it kind of made the book more readable to me. I have no interest in hearing a modern writer trying to trifle through old English in a
...more
Jessica
Author: I have this book I want to publish.
Publisher: Okay, let me make sure it has what we are looking for in a book. After all, the bulk of your previous writing experience appears to be for an outdoors magazine. Correct?
Author: Yes that is correct.
Publisher: Okay, is your book an attempt to write from a woman’s point of view?
Author: Yes!
Publisher: Fantastic, do you have the slightest clue or insight into women’s thoughts or emotions?
Author: Nope.
Publisher: Great! Is your book riddled with wom
...more
Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~*
At a peace conference at Fort Laramie in 1854,a prominet northern Cheyenne Chief requested of the US army the gift of one thousand white women as brides for his young warriors. Although this was an actual historical event,the story of May Dodd and her journals is entirely a work of fiction by the author. The Cheyenne's request was not well received by the white authorities,and the peace conference collapsed and the Cheyenne's were actually sent home. The white women did not go. But in this novel ...more
MacDuff
Sep 13, 2007 MacDuff rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who can overlook history
Shelves: booksreadin2007
This book was really disappointing.

The premise begins with a re-telling of the proposed "Brides for Indians" pact that went on in 1854, when a whole host of Cheyenne Native Americans came into DC and asked for 1000 white women to take back to the prairie. Their idea was that by impregnating the women, they'd put the Native American seed into Caucasian culture and thus assimilate it.

Ok, so that never happened. But for Jim Fergus, he lets his imagination roll with the idea that it did. Enter May
...more
cherishwit
Quite a good read.

From Booklist, by Grace Fill

An American western with a most unusual twist, this is an imaginative fictional account of the participation of May Dodd and others in the controversial "Brides for Indians" program, a clandestine U.S. government^-sponsored program intended to instruct "savages" in the ways of civilization and to assimilate the Indians into white culture through the offspring of these unions. May's personal journals, loaded with humor and intelligent reflection, de
...more
Elizabeth
Aug 21, 2008 Elizabeth rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Book Club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chellis
If this book was not assigned to me for my book club, I wouldn't have wasted my time to read it. Not only is Fergus' novel, overly sentimental, historically inaccurate, misogynistic, it is racist towards Native Americans. AND it's all told in my least favorite method of narration: the journal entry. Chapters will often begin with, "So much has happened since my last entry, I don't know where to begin...." This is an easy tool to push time forward, and overdone in poorly written novels.

Fergus' n
...more
Caroline
Once upon a time, there was an Cheyenne chief called Little Wolf and a drunken US President named Ulysses S. Grant. After Grant made a horrible fool of himself by being a white guy, Little Wolf was like, "Look, we're matrilineal, so why not just let us have some white ladies to marry and procreate with? We don't even need cool white ladies. You can give us the nice ugly ones. And the pretty crazy ones. But not the crazy ugly ones because that seems like a bit much." And thus the Brides for India ...more
Michelle
I have to agree with several of the previous reviewers... GREAT premise (exchange of 1,000 white women for peace - an offer actually made, but declined by Grant) and interesting insight into Native American culture. However, I had some of the same gripes as previous reviewers. For one, I thought the writing was very mediocre, it was abound with cliches. If the narrator referred to one more person being "rough around the edges" I was going to scream. Not to mention "he made my skin crawl." And, a ...more
Jennifer
The friend who loaned me this book raved about it, and I really trust her opinion. However, I just couldn't love this book. It is an interesting topic-it's based on a true bit of history, when the Native Americans and the U.S. were trying to integrate, and the Native Americans requested 1000 of American white women to help the process and have their children. Of course, Grant turned it down, but this book is a fictional account of what might have been. It was an extremely interesting idea, and I ...more
Erica
Why did I read this book? Two words: book club.

Yes, after a lifetime of avoiding book clubs, perhaps its fitting that in my latest job one of my tasks is to lead a book club. And guess what the first title is?

On the plus side, it was a quick read. An amalgamation of cliches and trite characters (Noble Native Americans, uptight white people, a former slave who not only sings and dances good but is also the fastest runner in the tribe!), this is a basic tale of 1875, as the last Native Americans w
...more
Mary Helene
It's a bodice-ripper! It took me to page 80 to figure that out and then I laughed aloud. Tana recommended it to me, and I usually value her recommendations, but I forgot that this is a genre she finds fun. I was just so disappointed. This book would appeal to those who like the "Outlander" series. There is the heroine who has no faults or failings but who is consistently misunderstood. There are evil characters lurking on the edges, but she feels safe in the arms of a series of fantastic heroes ...more
Kkop12
So I liked the entire book, especially the main character. However, I was a bit bummed by the end. And I even had a little trouble figuring out who the characters were in the final pages (lineage). But what a well written book. I had never read a book about Indians, and while I am sure it only scratched the surface of their customs and way of life, it did present a lot of information about them. In the end though, it was ironic that the main character was unable to identify with either the India ...more
Kiri
A well written and lively "alter-verse" (if you will) Historical Fiction re-telling of the proposed "Brides for Indians" pact of September 1874, when the heads of the Cheyenne tribes, including Chief Little Wolf (the Sweet Medicine Chief) and others, journeyed to Washington D.C. with a proposal for President Ulysses S. Grant. They presented their plan to give the government one thousand horses in exchange for one thousand white women. Hoping to end the fighting between the white man and Indians ...more
Christa
One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd is a very interesting and original book. In 1854 a Cheyenne chief proposed a plan to exchange 1000 horses for 1000 white brides for his warriors. The plan was rejected, but Fergus basis his fictional novel on a similar situation set in 1875. In the novel, the Cheyenne are promised 1000 white brides, and May Dodd, resident of an insane asylum, is one of the women selected. The character May Dodd was a strong woman and her story was compelling.

187
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Rachel
Jul 23, 2008 Rachel rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
I fear I'm going to be overly harsh on this book. First, this book took me 3 months to read, which is nearly unheard of, especially for ~300 pages. I kept wanting to just stop reading, but I wanted to finish it so I could say I finished it.
The basic story of the book I think is intriguing and could be the basis for a really good book if done correctly. I just think the author missed terribly here. The book is bogged down by dialogue, and crappy dialogue at that. He felt it necessary to write con
...more
Lois
A fascinating look at life among the Cheyenne Indians in 1874 from the perspective of a white woman who is part of a US govt. program to assimilate the natives. The landscape is perfectly described and family and communal life is portrayed in great detail in a supposed journal with accompanying letters and bibliography. It appears to be well researched, but my problem with this kind of historical fiction is always wondering just how much IS true (were the Indians really THAT brutal?) The too-goo ...more
Sharon
5* Rating

If I didn’t know before hand that this book was a work of fiction, it would have been easy to think otherwise.

The Intro:

(1996) by J. Will Dodd, editor in chief of Chicago’s city magazine and great-grandson of the (h) May Dodd, writes very convincingly. Thru the years rumors had circulated within the ‘family’ about the “crazy woman”, born 1850, hospitalized at 23 for a nervous disorder, then died in the asylum in 1876. Ancestral insanity, an embarrassment, was a well kept hidden little
...more
MAP
1.5 stars.

This is another one of those disappointing books where the idea is really neat and the execution is incredibly bad. The main issue is how flawed the writing of the characters is. For one thing, he seems to confuse people having accents for people having personalities. There are Irish accents, southern accents, German accents. And he WRITES OUT the accents, which is supremely annoying. (He also sporadically writes things in French and then doesn't translate them.) On top of that, there'
...more
Jenni
I honestly enjoyed this interesting take on history and think the main point of the book was missed by many of the reviewers. Yes the main character, May Dodd, is a strong woman ahead of her times in certain cultural areas. But the book is a wonderful account of and tribute to the Cheyenne people before they were forced to live on a reservation. It is a captivating read of their daily life, connection to their surroundings, and in many case, higher moral standards than their white "civilized" co ...more
Amy Sheridan
If I were a member of the Cheyenne tribe featured in this book, my Indian name would be Couldn't-Finish-The-Book. If Jim Fergus were a member of the tribe, his Indian name would be Has-Never-Spoken-To-A-Woman-For-Any-Amount-Of-Time because... really. Oh, and the Indian name of this book would be Fail-Order-Brides.

I will start off by saying that I've never been a fan of historical fiction or books written as journals, but the premise of this book piqued my interest. I wasn't even slightly put off
...more
Rebecca
I keep forgetting to review this book. I think because I'm not quite sure what to make of it. The next time you're browsing in a bookstore pick it up just to read the kick-ass premise in the prologue. You probably don't need to bother with the rest. I didn't find it as trite or cliche as other readers. It's just that you can tell the experiment is doomed from the beginning and the storytelling isn't so revelatory that it's worth investing yourself in the poor characters.

Other thoughts.

1. I did l
...more
Jen

Deep Breath. This book, which was a selection for my local women's book club, was a real disappointment.



The premise was great, as many other reviews have stated, creative and fascinating. "Primitive"/ "civilized", matriarchy/patriarchy/fraternity...all these concepts interested me. My expectations rose accordingly and then nose dived after a dozen or so journaled entries. Although I am not a historical fiction snob where everything has to be just right, this book stuck me as very Louis L'Amour f

...more
Susan
What a remarkable story to read with such a great heroine in May Dodd. This is one fantastic story in journal format that relates the story of a woman who fell in love with the foreman of her father's mill and had two children with the man. For this her family banishes her to an insane asylum on the grounds of mental illness and promiscuity. She was neither mad nor promiscous just fell in love with the guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The US government made the inmates a great offer for th ...more
Michele
What an odd title for a book. It sounds racist at the same time as it's a very dull description of what the book is about (which is to say, the book is far more interesting than its title).

When book club first selected this book, I was somewhat skeptical about it, since I hadn't heard of the author before, and usually don't read 'historical' fiction of this sort. It's pseudo-autobiographical nature usually would turn me off, but I found myself very immersed in the book, to the point where my fam
...more
Connie
This book started with an interesting premise: what if 1,000 white women became brides of Cheyenne Indians still living the nomadic life in the 1860s, just before they were forced to live on the reservation.

Strengths: interesting exploration of how people adapt to a completely different culture and way of life.

Weaknesses: 1) Some of the characters come off as stereotypes, the racist southern belle jilted at the altar, the Irish girls who are big drinkers and gamblers, the black runaway slave who
...more
Lewis Weinstein
This book was a delight.

The premise for the novel is based on an actual historical event: The chief of the Cheyenne Indians asks President Grant to provide 1,000 white brides to produce children who will help integrate the Indians into their changing world (1875). In real life, this request is denied; in the book, it is accepted.

Granted that the premise is fragile, but once you accept it, the story follows the consequences with intelligence, humor and pathos, portraying a variety of women who r
...more
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History we never knew about... 45 317 Sep 15, 2014 01:42PM  
Historical Fictio...: April 2013: One Thousand White Women 51 258 Aug 04, 2014 03:56PM  
The Smart Chicks ...: One Thousand White Women 8 31 Nov 17, 2013 06:34PM  
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18854
Jim Fergus was born in Chicago on March 23, 1950. He attended high school in Massachusetts and graduated as an English major from Colorado College in 1971. He has traveled extensively and lived over the years in Colorado, Florida, the French West Indies, Idaho, France, and Arizona. For ten years he worked as a teaching tennis professional in Colorado and Florida, and in 1980 moved to the tiny town ...more
More about Jim Fergus...
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“Don't you know that I laugh because it is my last defense against tears?
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“...how odd to think of one's life not as chapters in a book but as complete volumes, separate and distinct.
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