MacDuff's Reviews > One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
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's review
Sep 13, 2007

it was ok
bookshelves: booksreadin2007
Recommended for: Anyone who can overlook history

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 Dodd, a woman who fell in love with a guy who worked for her father and was (obviously) below her station in life. Institutionalized for promiscuity after she gives birth to two children, May is eligible for the Brides program because she is obviously fertile.

I really thought that I was going to like this book, and be able to read it over a weekend. Instead, factual misrepresentation totally got the best of me. Dates are just wrong. I can't imagine what Fergus' editor was doing when he sent in this book. For instance, there's this point where Dodd, who is writing in 1874/75, mentioned the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The CSO was begun in 1891. I hate to ask people to look up these references, but please.

Also problematic is Fergus' idea of what thoughts went through women's heads in the mid-1800s. Apparently, women were spritely, not afraid to stand up for themselves, and spoke out in crowds of men. I wouldn't call myself a traditionalist, but at the very least give an accurate portrayal of what life was like for us back in 1874.

And finally, it just seems like the author wasn't paying any sort of attention to his character. For instance, May Dodd undergoes this "treatment" in the asylum for promiscuity. Her vagina is injected with boiling hot water at regular intervals. She is also raped repeatedly by the orderlies. However, she gets out of the institution and is sleeping with a man almost immediately. It just isn't believable.

In another passage, May recounts how she and a few of the other brides have totally given up their Western attire for Native American clothing. They don't even remember WHERE their skirts and blouses are. However, when one of them has the idea to hit the sweat lodge with the rest of the Native American men, they all pull out the cotton towel they packed for just this sort of instance. Again, it's just not believable.

In something like Phillippa Gregory's books, you can overcome any factual problems because you're reading a bodice ripper. While Fergus says right at the front of the book that this is a work of fiction, you still have to do your research.
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02/15/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Edie (new) - added it

Edie Henderson very good read I enjoyed it

Chel Were you really looking for something that really happened... in a FICTION text?

Regina Sebring Supposedly the "rapist" in the institution had a premature ejaculation problem... So technically, she was just molested, not raped???

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