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The Captivity of the Oatman Girls Among the Apache and Mohave Indians
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The Captivity of the Oatman Girls Among the Apache and Mohave Indians

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  171 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Riveting true-life story of two sisters taken by Indians, their life in captivity, and their brother's search for them.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 22nd 1994 by Dover Publications (first published January 1st 1858)
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Aug 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
WOW. Do you believe white Christians are the possessors of all virtue and aboriginals are lazy, savage, and useless? Unless you do, you will be highly uncomfortable with this eloquently written piece of racist crap. Normally, one sympathizes with the captives, but I found it impossible in this case. Sure, the narrators have some reasons for being so hateful, but this reads like the anti-Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. My library's description says "this inc ...more
Dec 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Olive Oatman and her younger sister were young Mormon girls that were captured by Apache Indians and later given to the Mohaves. Olive is strong and is the first recorded woman that is tattooed by her tribe. In her narrative, she speaks of the good and the bad of living with Indians and eventually becoming part of the tribe. Eventually, she is reunited with her brother whom she thought was dead and is traded back to her white civilization. After her ordeal of 5 years in captivity, she narrates t ...more
Feb 02, 2015 rated it liked it
I am currently near the area where this event happened. This book was originally written in 1857, and that would explain the writing style, which can be a little difficult to read at times. It can be pretty wordy and pious, and the native peoples are portrayed as horrible heathens, and there is much attempt made to preserve the chastity of the girls. This would be pretty important in the mid 1800's. I found the book interesting to read for the historical details of the massacre and the captiviti ...more
Jimmy Lee
Aug 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There are plenty of books about Native American captives during the western expansion. White children were taken and kept alive during this period of our history for a variety of reasons, and we're lucky to have quite a bit of documentation about their lives. This, however, is truly one of the books I could have skipped instead of mistakenly purchasing sight unseen.

I've read many contemporary works, but the writing in this at times was unintelligible. With commas and semicolons tossed at random
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was drawn to this story because a character on the tv show Hell On Wheels was loosely based on Olive Oatman. "Four blankets and a horse" will sound familiar to those who watched the show. It was an interesting read, but I feel like there could have been more, but I guess it was normal literature for its time?
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
The writing style was a bit difficult because of when it was written.
The story itself was very sad
For those who say it makes American Indians look bad, remember who wrote this, the time period and for goodness sakes....what these two LITTLE girls went through!
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Book too long on my list of reading...
Erin Lindsay McCabe
I really wanted to read this account, supposedly recounted by Olive Oatman herself, to get a sense of how she described her captivity. There is some of that here, but unfortunately in between, Royal B. Stratton inserts his own (verbose) opinion of the American Indians. This is predictably exaggerated and skewed and inaccurate. I suppose this shouldn't have surprised me, but I was still disappointed. Likewise, it's clear that, given both the sentiments of the time and of her co-authors, there's j ...more
Dec 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, memoir
This is the memoir of a young girl facing and surviving unimaginably grievous circumstances, and except for some of the hyperbolic language of the times, which is a little hard to follow (flowery language, run-on sentences, and so forth), I thought it was both heart-wrenching and fascinating. If you are interested in this period of history or similar events, the book is a worthwhile read. That said, apparently one should take it with a grain of salt and do further research into the Oatman girls' ...more
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i loved reading this book, especially knowing it was a true story, an involve my family line, it tells of courage, hope, love and pain, olive ann buried her litle sister after she starved to eath, courage-- brave, being found when you have given up hope-- the love of the brother ,his searching for his sister. the heartbrake of fining her only to hear his younger sister had passed away.-- also the brother an sister traveled to new youk to try for help in emoving her scars from the blue dye on her ...more
Dee Toomey
Feb 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Historical nonfiction is not usually a genre I read, but I found the story of this brother and sister survivor very interesting. It was a hard book to read, as the publisher made no changes to the original transcript written in 1857. Their way of speaking and writing are difficult at times to follow, and I found myself re-reading occasional passages in order to grasp the meaning. I feel that "slogging" through this book was a worth while endeavor. To get the first-hand account of victims and cap ...more
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was written in 1857 and recently republished with notes by University of Nebraska Press. It is the true story of an incident happening to a family on the way to California. They were most likely members of a splinter group of the LDS Church. The story is told with pathos and romanticism--typical of the era, moreover in the spirit of Manifest Destiny. The horrific events are a platform for the disregard of the Native Americans and the quest this era had for their removal. No side of the ...more
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an interesting struggle to read. The core history of the Oatman family was there, but you have to maneuver through some very tedious language and obviously clouded personal opinions of the writer to find it. It was compelling and repelling at the same time. Clearly at the time it was written there was a great lack of understanding on the part of both the Original People presented and the "Anglo-Saxons" conveying the tale. Fascinating.
Ava Abbott
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing and heartbreaking tale. The writer is like others of his time, very flowery and he has a tendency to really go on and on, which is fine but the narrative by Olive and her brother is what is really gripping. I felt impatient with him when it felt like he was interrupting their story. Only because I couldn't wait to know what was going to happen next. I really felt for the Oatman family, their massacre was hard to get through, so sad and horrific. Olive was an amazing strong girl.
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A life worth learning about.

I loved this book. Although at times hard to read, because of the old English used, pressing through to finish was so worth it. Simply as a reader, I was overcome with emotion for the Oatman family and especially for what Olive endured for so many years. She is a woman of great strength and resolve to survive in the most dire circumstances.
Definitely interesting

Fascinating story. The writing style of Mr. Stratton was unique, to say the least. It was written in old English so I had to slow down my reading. The narrative of Olive & Lorenzo was good, but the author's input was too wordy & repetitive. Worth reading for the story & the experience.
Abby Welker
Great story! Because I listened to the audio version, I think it was harder for me to follow. The writing style is very old-fashioned, which was so very interesting, but I think reading it in a book would be easier. The Oatman story is so tragic - it's definitely worth spending time reading about.
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This true story of emigrants being massacred & two sisters being taken captive was quite interesting. It was written in 1857 and because of the style of writing was sometimes difficult to read. I had listened to a podcast about it so it was interesting to read the actual story.
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
This was a hard read, but gripping from start to finish. It was hard because of the language used. Such a tragic story. I was emotional throughout this book, reading more and more what she endured and knowing still that the author used discretion of the things he wrote about.
Francine Werda

I have this book and give it a three because of the amount of detail left to the imagination of the reader. in a non-fiction book I prefer to be given the detail instead of imaginings of guesswork.
Fredrick Danysh
Members of the Oatman family were on their way to California in 1851 when they were attacked by Indians near Fort Yuma. Two girls were taken captive while everyone else was killed. The girls were captives for many years.
Doug Hocking
Dec 04, 2014 rated it liked it
The information in this book is essential. This is the true story of the Oatman family. Unfortunately, it is written in a cumbersome 19th century style by a writer with little skill and a great deal of wind.
Fredrick Danysh
The Oatman family is attacked by Indians while on their way to California. Many family members are killed and two girls captured. They will live for years among the Indians enduring many abuses.
Excellent book and descriptions were interesting although the verbal format of the 1800's was a little difficult to follow.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: other-historical
This book took several months to read, I kept falling asleep
Dena Mueller
Great blend of fact and fiction. Transcends to another time. Would highly recommend.
Aug 23, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research, cowboys
I wanted to read this book to poach some good "found" language from it, for poems, but it's pretty overinflated vernacular and boy does it drag!
Skimmed and quit
rated it liked it
Oct 04, 2015
edith muirden
rated it really liked it
May 19, 2017
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“though there was something so fascinating and absorbing to my engaged mind, that I frequently long to reproduce its unearthly music and sights.” 0 likes
“I pray God to save me in future from the dark thoughts that gloomed my mind on turning my back upon that spot; and the reader from experiencing kindred sorrow.” 0 likes
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