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Twilight of Empire


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Reading Eckert is like listening to a master storyteller: he presents his material in vivid detail, using the novelist's technique to enhance dramatic events. Sixth in the author's Winning of America series, the book focuses on how the whites took North America from the Indians. Eckert chronicles the Black Hawk War of 1832, fought for possession of the rich farmland of the upper Mississippi Valley. Most of the action took place in Illinois and Wisconsin, where both the U.S. Army and local militias were involved in scattered skirmishes for four months. Gen. Winfield Scott was delayed because of an outbreak of cholera, but Col. Zachary Taylor and Lt. Jefferson Davis were present, as was Pvt. Abraham Lincoln of the Illinois militia. We meet the Sac leaders, Black Hawk and Keokuk (loyal to the U.S.), and the treacherous Winnebago chief, White Crow, who played both sides. Eckert has used primary sourcespersonal letters, military correspondence, tribal historiesfor a memorable excursion into a dark chapter of our history. In the final battle, at Bad Axe, 21 soldiers and 350 Indians were killed. Among previous volumes in this series are The Conqueror and The Wilderness War. (October)

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