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Rotting Face [Hardcover]

Roland G. Robertson
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1, 2001 0870044192 978-0870044199 1
Historian R.G. Robertson tells the tale of the smallpox epidemic of 1837-1838 that forever changed the tribes of the Northern Plains.

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Rotting Face + Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The term rotting face refers to the confluent pustules that were a common symptom of the variola major strain of smallpox in Native American communities. Robertson, a retired businessman and veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, examines how this horrifying disease decimated Native American populations in the Americas by telling its story in two parts. The odd-numbered chapters examine in sobering detail an outbreak of smallpox on the Upper Missouri River in 1837-38 that killed an estimated 20,000 Native Americans, most of whom were Arickaras, Blackfeet, Hidatsas, or Mandans. The even-numbered chapters broadly assess the impact of smallpox throughout the Americas, offering a survey that, unfortunately, pales in comparison to the detailed Upper Missouri River case study. Academic and public libraries needing an excellent continental survey to complement this recommended work should also purchase Noble D. Cook's Born To Die: Disease & New World Conquest (1492-1650) (Cambridge Univ., 1998). Academic libraries should also consider Disease & Demography in the Americas (Smithsonian Inst., 1992), edited by John W. Verano and Douglas Ubelaker. John Burch, Campbellsville Univ., KY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"The term rotting face refers to the confluent pustules that were a common symptom of the variola major strain of smallpox in Native American communities. Robertson, a retired businessman and veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, examines how this horrifying disease decimated Native American populations in the Americas by telling its story in two parts."—Library Journal
(Library Journal)

"An important and readable contribution to Indian and western American history."—Robert M. Utley
(Robert M. Utley)

"Highly recommended reading for anyone with an interest in Native American history, as well as the history of deadly diseases."—The Midwest Book Review
(Midwest Book Review)

"This is a fascinating presentation on a highly distasteful subject. . . . this book has gained an eerie new significance."—Statesman Journal, Dan Hays
(Dan Hays Statesman Journal)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 329 pages
  • Publisher: Caxton Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870044192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870044199
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,689,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

R. G. Robertson served as a U.S. Marine Corps officer in the Vietnam War from late January 1968 until February 1969. After completing his military service, he earned an MBA from the University of Michigan. During nineteen years in the investment business, he was a partner at Hambrecht & Quist and later a self-employed options market maker on the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco.

In 1990, he and his wife, Karen, moved from the Bay Area to Sun Valley, Idaho, where he began writing about mountain men and the fur trade. In researching his books, the couple drove thousands of miles across the western United States, visiting the sites where Beyond the Yellowstone and R. G.'s other books take place. In 2014, they relocated to Boise, Idaho, where they live today.

In addition to writing, R. G. enjoys mountain climbing, hiking, skiing, biking, movies and traveling the American West.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
(6)
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An accurate and revealing historical account December 10, 2001
Format:Hardcover
Rotting Face by author and historian R. G. Robertson is an accurate and revealing historical account of the cruelty of a devastating disease that decimated a people with no immunological defense against it. Variola major, commonly known as smallpox, dubbed "Rotting Face" was first carried to Native American peoples by means of a steamboat voyage, and carved a deadly swath of sickness, suffering, and death everywhere it spread. It destroyed the American Indian cultures of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arickara in less than a year, devoured entire villages of the Blackfeet, and claimed more lives from the Northern Plains tribes in one year than all the military expeditions ever sent against American Indians. Rotting Face is a compelling, graphic account dedicated to providing cold, hard facts and dispelling myths, particuarly in regard to the role of whites in the spread of this lethal disease. Highly recommended reading for anyone with an interest in Native American history, as well as the history of deadly diseases.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
An excellent and eyeopening review of the effects that smallpox had on Native American populations, with detailed information from journals kept at Fort Clark (North Dakota) on the Missouri River circa 1830s. Additional historical context of earlier smallpox incursions that literally altered the human landscape of North America. Followed up with a site visit to Fort Clark (now a N.D. State Historic site), which brought the read to life. A must read for those with interest in Native American history and their early struggles with disease brought by European and Spanish incursion into North America.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspires You To Update Your Own Vaccination April 8, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Rotten Face is primarily the history of a series of smallpox epidemics that swept thru the upper Missouri around 1837. The effects resulted in a virtual collapse of the local Indian balance of power, made the survivors dependent on white men and their manufactured goods, and reduced the population to such an extent the survivors were never again able to keep their land from flowing into Eastern Indian and white man's hands. The story is mostly how the fur companies jockeyed about as they built their businesses, at first, and finally how they scurried to keep those businesses afloat as their workforce died and production quotas plummeted. The author is a fantastic researcher and a gifted writer so all his research is easy on the eyes.
But two chapters stand out for me that make the book a real home run... The chapter on the history of small pox is nothing short of spooky. I knew it was a real killer and no fun to have. But what did it mean to really have small pox, to know if you survived your children probably wouldn't. The physical and psychological scars you would certainly have to live with the rest of your life. The beginning of the book has a quotation from the famous Mandan chief Four Bears about his hatred of the white man for bringing the small pox scourge to the Missouri.
The other chapter I liked was the ins and outs of using steam paddle wheel boats on the Missouri and Mississippi.Everyone is aware that they operated but I had no idea it was such a dangerous and chancy endeavor. Very enlightening.
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