Oh What a Slaughter What at first seems a narrow, eccentric subject — six massacres involving the Army, white settlers, and Native Americans in the late 19th century —… 2005-11-29 Nonfiction Simon & Schuster
Book Review

Oh What a Slaughter (2005)

'OH' BOY McMurtry's Slaughter is anything but a how-to
'OH' BOY McMurtry's Slaughter is anything but a how-to

Details Release Date: Nov 29, 2005; Writer: Larry McMurty; Genre: Nonfiction; Publisher: Simon & Schuster

What at first seems a narrow, eccentric subject — six massacres involving the Army, white settlers, and Native Americans in the late 19th century — is, in fact, entirely universal and topical. Man's inclination to perpetuate ''a perfect butchery,'' as Kit Carson described the 1846 Sacramento River Massacre, lives on, as do the motivations for the savagery: apprehension, the coveting of land or mineral rights, and the affliction of thinking ''the worst about those who are not as we are.'' Ferocious violence has played a role in Larry McMurtry's fiction (Lonesome Dove) and nonfiction (Crazy Horse), and as always he approaches the topic with measured gentility and weary humor: ''Massacres may be many things, but they are never neat — they might be considered the very antithesis of neatness.'' Among those many things is, especially in McMurtry's deft hands, a riveting cautionary tale found in Oh What a Slaughter.

Originally posted Nov 25, 2005 Published in issue #852 Dec 02, 2005 Order article reprints