Aug 14, 201211:40 AMThe Telegraph
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Western Words: August 14, 2012
Rising Up from Indian Country: The Battle of Fort Dearborn and the Birth of Chicago, by Ann Durkin Keating
While the history of Chicago is more closely associated with gangsters and heartbreaking baseball teams, go back a few more years and you’ll find the Battle of Fort Dearborn, fought 200 years ago this month.
That conflict began when Potawatomi warriors attacked 94 settlers en route to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Many were killed, the rest taken prisoner.
Ann Durkin Keating traces the events that led up to the battle, from the first treaties with the Indians in what is now the Midwest, and the historic figures who played key roles in the birth of Chicago.
The Cubs are already out of the playoffs, so Rising Up from Indian Country should give Windy City natives an informative diversion until the Bears begin their next Super Bowl run.
There’s a good reason why there are four railroads on a Monopoly board: the corporate barons who played with real train sets were among the nation’s most ruthless moguls. The Central Railroad monopoly was among the most infamous of the era – built with U.S. government loans, the owners ducked repayment requests for decades. Then two writers – one a novelist and the other a journalist working for William Randolph Hearst – decided enough was enough.
The Santa Fe Trail: Its History, Legends, and Lore, by David Dary
Four hundred years and 900 miles is bound to inspire a lot of fascinating history. The Santa Fe Trail was established in the early 1600s by Spanish settlers of Mexico, winding through Colorado and Kansas before ending in Franklin, Missouri. When pioneers began using the route to head in the opposite direction, it became perhaps the most famous trail of the Old West.
David Dary’s The Santa Fe Trail: Its History, Legends and Lore explores how the trail became so popular (it was as much about commerce as convenience) and the hazards that would befall weary travelers in the days before Amtrak. Readers will encounter plenty of famous names as well, from Jedediah Smith and Kit Carson to John Fremont, Zebulon Pike, and Buffalo Bill Cody.
Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail, by Suzanne Roberts
If The Santa Fe Trail puts you in the mood for another memorable trail tale, then discover with writer Suzanne Roberts how a journey on the right trail at the right time can change your life forever. In 1993, Roberts had just finished college and set out for California’s John Muir Trail to spend a few days away from deep thoughts about her future. For the next 28 days, she explored snowy passes, avoided hungry bears, survived unexpected injuries, and found out more about herself than she ever knew. A provocative backcountry travelogue and a candid, humorous memoir, Almost Somewhere will find a more enthusiastic audience among women, but husbands and boyfriends who “borrow” the book will also find much to enjoy.
Ghost Dances: Proving Up on the Great Plains, by Josh Garrett-Davis
Sometimes it’s the people that can’t wait to get out of a place who end up writing the most moving prose about the land of their roots.
So it was with Josh Garrett-Davis, who left South Dakota at a young age but kept coming back to the state, both in reality and in the stories he wrote. Ghost Dances collects several evocative tales about his childhood and the Great Plains.
For more recent book releases, check out last week's Western Words post.