MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE
Reader listed as BEST BOOK READ — 2013
"The Thirty-Ninth Man" by D.A. Swanson, a historical novel about a man who tries to do the right thing his whole life. Takes place before and during the 1862 Dakota Uprising in the Midwest. The characters were so believable I wanted to know them and speak with them. The book expanded my knowledge of not only the uprising but also the Civil War and what it was like to live in those times.
TITLE INFORMATION - THE THIRTY-NINTH MAN
A debut historical novel details the events that led to the Dakota War in the 19th-century Midwest. Swanson begins his tale as a Native American surrenders his daughter to a white fur trader as bounty on a lost wager. About nine months later, the "half-breed" Annawon "Anton" McAllister is born to the forfeited daughter. Anton is raised by his mother, who teaches him many of her Algonquin ways, including hunting and tracking. His mother dies when he is still young, and he must make his own way. As he matures, he straddles the worlds of whites and Native Americans.
He works for many years as chief hunter and scout for the Army, growing close with some of its members, visiting trading posts, and learning the ways of local fur traders. In Anton's young adulthood, a friend named Tomawka, a Native American, is killed by a wolf. Anton feels responsible for the man's wife, Star Woman, and the couple's infant son.
Quickly becoming attached to the widow and child, Anton resolves to settle with them and forge a new family.
Meanwhile, tension builds between the Dakota (part of the Great Sioux Nation) and the American government. In his engaging story, Swanson shows the U.S. repeatedly failing to honor treaties it has with the Dakota. As the Dakota lose land and concomitant hunting rights, hunger ensues, followed by increased violence. The author graphically depicts the bloodshed and hostilities that result as the Dakota take their revenge on white settlers. This lengthy and well-researched tale is so specific that it often reads more like a historical account than a novel, providing comprehensive exposition on one topic after another. Chock full of details about the Midwestern territories, the different Native American tribes inhabiting the region, land disputes, cultural differences, and methods of fighting, the book delivers an engrossing education for readers seeking to learn about this period.
An unforgiving look at the battles between the white settlers of the mid-1800s and the Dakota, offering an illuminating perspective on Native American history.
MONICA STROH reviewed The Thirty-Ninth Man: A Novel of the 1862 Uprising.
5-stars — I made an exception this time and glad I did.
I don't usually read fiction of any type; however, I made an exception this time and glad I did. Mr. Swanson arrived in my pharmacy one day looking for directions to the local library. We had a brief conversation from which I learned he was the author of a historical fiction novel. I told him I would purchase it if he would sign it. On that particular day, I didn't have a checkbook and his charge card machine wasn't working so he left with a promise to stop by at a later date with a signed book. I had actually forgotten all about it when he showed up book in hand one day. Because this not what I normally read, it sat on my shelf for several months. Not sure why I chose to pick it up one day, but I am glad I did. I am not much of a history person but I found this book informative and interesting, as well as easy to read. I found it difficult to put down. I was also pleasantly surprised when my 12-year-old son picked it up and shared his knowledge of the factual events with me. I plan to let him read this book. Tried to find more historical fiction by Mr. Swanson but so far haven't found any. I would definitely read more....as much for a learning experience as for pleasure.
AMAZON CUSTOMER reviewed The Thirty-Ninth Man.: A Novel of the 1862 Uprising.
I was not that familiar with the historical accounts of Indian history in Minnesota Territories until I had the privilege to read this book that so movingly describes the Dakota Wars. I was both engrossed with the historical events and ashamed that our federal government resorted to such thievery and deceit. I sincerely enjoyed every page.
JERRY reviewed The Thirty-Ninth Man: A Novel of the 1862 Uprising
Enjoyed reading this book.
MARY SHAW reviewed The Thirty-Ninth Man: A Novel of the 1862 Uprising
5-stars — Extremely Interesting Read
Just finished reading this historical novel....It was very informative and well done. Dale has obviously done his research and brought life to each of the characters with his descriptions and character development. It gave me a new perspective of the horrible things that were done to the Indians....all the broken promises that were made and the real disregard of their culture, etc. A great read for anyone who wants to better understanding of the early times of our country.
KOLLODGE reviewed The Thirty-Ninth Man: A Novel of the 1862 Uprising
5-stars — A story that needed telling
Having a deep interest in Minnesota history and the sagas of the Western native tribes, I found this book to be a fascinating and balanced account of the 1862 uprising. Mr. Swanson engages the reader with his well-developed characters that blend historical facts with real-life stories that can be quite tense at times. He does not rely on gratuitous sex, gore, and violence which so many authors use, trying to keep your interest. The book is well rounded and the ending ties all loose ends together very effectively. I look forward to reading his next novel.
STEVE SKINNER reviewed The Thirty-Ninth Man: A Novel of the 1862 Uprising
5-stars — Fascinating Read!
Could not put the book down. Wonderful characters that draw you in and keep you wanting more. This historical novel tells the story that we did not learn in Elementary School. Thank you, Dale Swanson, for setting the record straight with characters that brought you to the scene of the crime as it is happening.
AMAZON CUSTOMER SARAH LANE reviewed The Thirty-Ninth Man: A Novel of the 1862 Uprising
I just finished reading The Thirty-Ninth Man, a historical novel by Dale Swanson. I am awaiting delivery of the three additional copies of this book, which I ordered from Amazon to give as gifts.
The Thirty-Ninth Man is a tale from a part of our past that has been glossed over in the history books. It's a story that needed to be told, and the author has done it well. The facts are true (Swanson was thorough in his research), and his fictional characters are artfully woven into the complex chain of events that culminated in the Dakota War of 1862 (referred to as the Sioux Uprising in the simplified and distorted version I learned about in 6th-grade social studies).
This story is all the more tragic, because it was repeated in different ways and in different settings from the time Europeans first set foot on this continent. You are left at the end, knowing that even though that particular war is over as the characters in the story head west to a new life, more conflict and grief await them in the new territory.
This book is an important contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the shameful legacy of broken treaties and deception, not to mention the inhumane treatment and genocide of the indigenous people of America. In a larger sense, it is a story that goes back to the beginning of the human race and continues to this day.
JERRY RICKS reviewed The Thirty-Ninth Man: A Novel of the 1862 Uprising
3-stars — A good tale. Told pretty well
A good tale. Told pretty well. I enjoyed it but found it hard to follow at times because of the very many names/characters involved. Maybe my method of reading, a few minutes at a time when my situation permits, made it hard for me to sort out the names. Anyway, it's good history. And well worth the read.
"Interesting topic well-qualified speaker."
Dale did a great job explaining his book and the research from where he obtained his information. Great topic and great information. Thanks, Dale
Sue Bohnsack, CTRS
Eden Prairie Senior Center
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