Interwoven with the real-life stories of Tatemina and Lawrence Taliaferro, the well-respected and even-handed Indian agent who served at Fort Snelling from 1820-1839, Swanson imagines the character of Anton McAllister. A mixed-blood army scout, McAllister's friendships with both Taliaferro and Tatemina serve as a plot device for the author to offer readers a more intimate portrait of the men behind the names writ in history.
What's more, Swanson's prose is crisp and swift. He distills complex political and cultural forces into densely packed but unobtrusively written episodes that carry readers with increasing tempo until they are deposited at the gallows in Mankato along with the thousands in attendance to see the hanging.
The result is a well-sculpted and tautly written work that adds another layer of understanding to an historical event that that the author said continues to be misunderstood.
"When I was in high school, I don't remember hearing about any of this in Mankato," Swanson said. "I hope readers take away some of this truth that's never been told."
If You Go What Dale Swason book discussion When 7 p.m. today Where Henderson Public Library Admission Free and open to the public More info www.dale-swanson.com