One Thousand White Women (Fergus)

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
Jim Fergus and J. Will Dodd (Intro), 1998
St. Martin's Press
320 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780312199432

Based on actual historical events, One Thousand White Women is the poignant story of May Dodd's journey west.

Committed to an insane asylum by her blueblood family for an affair with a man beneath her station, May finds that her only hope of freedom is to participate in a secret government program whereby women from the "civilized" world become the brides of Cheyenne warriors.

She soon falls in love with John Bourke, a gallant young army captain, even though she is married to the great chief Little Wolf. Caught between two worlds and two men, Dodd is forced to make tough decisions that will change her life forever. (From the publisher.)

Read the novel's 2017 sequel: The Mothers of Vengenace.

Author Bio 
Where—Chicago, Illinois, USA
Education—Colorado College
Awards—Mountains & Plains Booksellers Assn. - Fiction of the Year Award
Currently—divides his time between Arizona, Colorado, and France

Jim Fergus is an American born author, best know for his 1998 novel Ten Thousand White Woman. Fergus was born in Chicago; his mother was French mother and father American. He attended high school in Massachusetts and headed out West to study English at Colorado College.

 After working as a tennis pro for 10 years, in 1980 he moved to Rand, Colorado, with its 13 residents. There he began freelance writing full time, publishing 100s of articles, essays, and interviews for various national publications.

A devoted traveler, Fergus published his first book, a travel/sporting memoir titled, A Hunter's Road, in 1992. The LA Times called it "an absorbing, provocative, and even enchanting book."

Fergus’s first novel, One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd came out in 1998. The novel won the 1999 Fiction of the Year Award from the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association and has since sold over a million copies in the U.S. and France.

In 1999, Fergus published The Sporting Road, a collection of outdoor articles and essays. That book was followed in 2005 with his second novel, The Wild Girl: The Notebooks of Ned Giles, historical fiction set in the 1930’s in Chicago, Arizona, and the Sierra Madre of Mexico.

Marie-Blanche, which he published in France in 2011, is historical fiction set in France and based on his own family — the complex and ultimately fatal relationship between Fergus’s French mother and grandmother.

In 2013, Fergus published another novel, first in France as Chrysis: Portrait de l’Amour, later that year in the U.S. as The Memory of Love. Set in the 1920s, the novel is a love story based on the life of a true life woman painter, Chrysis Jungbluth.

Fergus published a follow-up in 2017 to his widely known One Thousand White Women. The sequel, The Mothers of Vengeance, follows white women married to Cheyennes who seek vengeance after their husbands and children were killed during a raid by U.S. troops.
Jim Fergus divides his time between southern Arizona, northern Colorado, and France, (Adapted from the author's website.)

Book Reviews
The best writing transports readers to another time and place, so that when they reluctantly close the book, they are astonished to find themselves returned to their everyday lives. One Thousand White Women is such a book. Jim Fergus so skillfully envelops us in the heart and mind of his main character, May Dodd, that we weep when she mourns, we shake our fist at anyone who tries to sway her course, and our hearts pound when she is in danger.
Colorado Springs Gazette

An imaginative fictional account of the participation of May Dodd and others in the controversial "Brides for Indians" program, a clandestine U.S. government-sponsored program.… This book is artistically rendered with meticulous attention to small details that bring to life the daily concerns of a group of hardy souls at a pivotal time in U.S. history. —Grace Fill

Long, brisk, charming…. Reading about life among the Cheyenne is spellbinding…. An impressive historical, terse, convincing, and affecting.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions 
1. One Thousand White Women was written by a man, but in a woman's point of view. Did you find this convincing?

2. In 1875, rebellious or unorthodox women were sometimes considered "hysterical" or insane. Is this still true in some circumstances today?

3. Does May Dodd remind you of a modern-day woman?

4. What would be today's equivalent of traveling west to an unknown part of the country with a group of strangers?

5. Did you feel the Native Americans were accurately portrayed in the novel?

6. If the "Brides for Indians" program were actually put into effect in 1875, do you feel it would have been effective?

7. What circumstances would prompt you to undergo a journey like the one May Dodd took?

8. Do you consider One Thousand White Women a tragic story? If so, why? If not, why not?

9. Of the supporting female characters, who did you find the most likeable?

10. Were any of May Dodd's actions unsympathetic? Would you find it difficult to leave your children behind in order to escape a horrendous situation?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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