Desperate Crossing: The Jenny Sanders Pryor Story

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9780812555202: Desperate Crossing: The Jenny Sanders Pryor Story

Follows nineteen-year-old Jenny Sanders Pryor and her new husband as they travel along the Oregon trail by way of wagon train in 1865 and Jenny's life after she is taken prisoner by the Oglala Sioux. Reprint.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

This 1865 tale of a young woman captured by warriors of the Oglala tribe in the Northwest re-creates the hatred seething among Indians, Army troops, and settlers--but with characters who sometimes fail to convince. In previous novels in Riefe's Iroquois series (Mohawk Woman, 1996, etc.), the author persuasively evoked torturous 18th-century tensions between whites and Native Americans. Here, Cincinnatian John Pryor, his young wife Jenny, and their seven-year-old adopted daughter Mary join a wagon train headed for Oregon. Near Fort Laramie, the party is attacked by Oglalas. Many of the settlers are killed, while Jenny, Mary, another woman, and a child are captured. Jenny plans an escape for the other three, who get away, but warriors return with their scalps. Jenny herself becomes one of the wives of the ancient chief, Ottawa. Meanwhile, John begins his frantic, furious search. The Army can't help; there are only 15,000 troops, and 300,000 Indian warriors are spread over a vast territory. John is sent for information to an ill-paid, but honest Indian agent, heavy-drinking Lincoln Hammer, who knows the score: ``The Indians know they're gradually losing everything . . . they know the sun's going down for them . . . every wagon they burn, every scalp they take delays extinction by a few minutes.'' At the same time, Jenny is living through her own ordeal, even keeping her junior high school guidance-teacherlike attitude intact (``Is being nice to him so hard?''). Before a ``happy'' ending built on tragedy, there are some fantastic treks and the slaughter of an entire fort's company. Jenny also deals not only with tomahawks and murder, but with a madman and his wagonload of corpses. Despite the limp characterizations, a rugged tale of survival with some haunting reminders of dark episodes in American history. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

In 1865, a band of Oglala Sioux attack a wagon train near Fort Laramie. After killing 14 people, they kidnap Jenny Pryor, her stepdaughter, and two others. Only Jenny survives to the Black Hills, where she is forced to become the seventh wife of Chief Ottawa. Meanwhile, her frantic husband desperately tries to enlist the aid of soldiers to rescue her. To Jenny, the Oglala are filthy, blood-thirsty, and superstitious; the only sympathetic Indian is a Jesuit-raised Christian. He helps Jenny survive her ordeal, including her dispatch to another tribe and "husband." He also assists on the eventual reunion with her legal husband. Riefe's (Against All Odds, LJ 12/96) narrative is disjointed and episodic, but her depiction of Indians as treacherous savages is pretty consistent. As if to provide balance, she includes a brief afterword that explains that ill-treatment and sexual abuse of captives actually were quite rare. That wouldn't have provided as sensational a plot, however. Not recommended.?Kathy Piehl, Mankato State Univ., Minn.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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