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Rotting Face Hardcover – March 1, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0870044199 ISBN-10: 0870044192 Edition: 1st

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Rotting Face + Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82
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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 1.1 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: #1,563,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

<div>"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</div> (Library Journal)

<div>"An important and readable contribution to Indian and western American history." Robert M. Utley</div> (Robert M. Utley)

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

<div>"This is a fascinating presentation on a highly distasteful subject. . . . this book has gained an eerie new significance." Statesman Journal, Dan Hays</div> (Dan Hays Statesman Journal) --Library Journal

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on 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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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 By D. Johnson on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
R. G. Robertson's Rotting Face: Smallpox and the American Indian relates the 1837-1838 smallpox epidemic that devastated the Native American population. Topic certainly fills a void in the smallpox and Native American literature. Robertson reveals the interdependent relationship between the Native Indians and the settlers' fur trade. Other secondary elements surface as well such as the power of an Indian woman and the amount of interracial mixing that took place outside of the towns.
Robertson tracks every step of the epidemic as smallpox attacked " like a scythe mowing the summer hay." I appreciate the attention to detail in everything from the fur trade hierarchy, to smallpox symptoms to an Indian chief's attire. However, at times the author's pain-staking details prove to be a fault and make for tedious periods in the book.
In addition, the work is written for the general public as essential terms applicable to smallpox and Indian history are clearly defined. Robertson does plainly admit some potential inaccuracies in his statistics and references due to an incomplete record of Native American history. Although he makes this disclaimer, he makes many assumptions and relates them in the format of " No doubt Chardon felt..." and "No doubt Chardon thought...", a bit of an excessive liberty in my opinion.
Despite the criticisms, I would recommend this book because it adds an untold piece to the puzzle of smallpox history and American history.
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