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The Dying Grass : A Novel of the Nez Perce War
by William T. Vollmann


Overview - "The reading experience of a lifetime ..."-- The Washington Post
The National Book Award winner takes readers inside the epic fighting retreat of the Nez Perce Indians

In this new installment in his acclaimed series of novels examining the collisions between Native Americans and European colonizers, William T.
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More About The Dying Grass by William T. Vollmann
 
 
 
Overview
"The reading experience of a lifetime ..."--The Washington Post
The National Book Award winner takes readers inside the epic fighting retreat of the Nez Perce Indians

In this new installment in his acclaimed series of novels examining the collisions between Native Americans and European colonizers, William T. Vollmann tells the story of the Nez Perce War, with flashbacks to the Civil War. Defrauded and intimidated at every turn, the Nez Perces finally went on the warpath in 1877, subjecting the U.S. Army to its greatest defeat since Little Big Horn as they fled from northeast Oregon across Montana to the Canadian border. Vollmann s main character is not the legendary Chief Joseph, but his pursuer, General Oliver Otis Howard, the brave, shy, tormented, devoutly Christian Civil War veteran. In this novel, we see him as commander, father, son, husband, friend, and killer.
Teeming with many vivid characters on both sides of the conflict, and written in an original style in which the printed page works as a stage with multiple layers of foreground and background, The Dying Grass is another mesmerizing achievement from one of the most ambitious writers of our time."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780670015986
  • ISBN-10: 0670015989
  • Publisher: Viking Pr
  • Publish Date: July 2015
  • Page Count: 1356


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Historical - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-05-25
  • Reviewer: Staff

The Nez Perce War of 1877 lies at the center of Vollmann’s epic new novel, the fifth volume in his series Seven Dreams: A Book of North American Landscapes, and the first since 2001’s Argall. Not surprisingly, given its length, it also offers a panoramic view of the era and the decades leading up to it. Seventy-plus years of abuse toward the Nez Perce are stingingly presented in a chapter of quotations from famous Americans of the time period. Vollmann’s prose is evocative and often lyrical, trailing down the pages like free verse. Scores of characters in different but interconnected settings contribute to a tapestry, much like that of John Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy. In the spring of 1877, General Oliver Howard is viewing a “city of tents” called The Dalles, formerly a Native American stronghold and bazaar for various tribes. Howard becomes the nominal protagonist, more accurately the book’s linchpin, as the war proceeds on multiple fronts. By July, what has been projected as an easy fight becomes a nightmare of small skirmishes against the resourceful Nez Perce, led by Howard’s archenemy Chief Joseph. He and his tribesmen call the Americans bluecoats. Ultimately, the superior resources of the U.S. Army prevail, in a war of attrition hastened by infighting among the tribes. To his credit, Volllman is as interested in context and history as in storytelling. Almost 200 pages of notes, maps, and background documents follow the narrative proper, encouraging a deeper read. This massive novel is sometimes challenging, but ultimately rewarding. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House. (July)

 
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