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Book Report: Minnesota authors have much to offer

Lots of books from and about Minnesota this week

First off, try a big doorstopper, "North Country: The Making of Minnesota," by Mary Letherd Wingerd (University of Minnesota Press, $34.95).

Wingerd, a St. Cloud State history professor, tells a different story of the state, beginning with the Dakota War of 1862, then segueing back in time and uncovering how native American and white settlers and trappers got along for years until capitalism reared its head and treaties were broken in the name of progress.

It's a fascinating story and laced with wonderful pictures, almost 200 of them and some in color, pictures that trace the early days when Indians and whites got along on to the days when they didn't.

That's the subject of a new novel by Pequot Lakes author Candace Simar, who earlier wrote "Abercrombie Trail," the story of the 1862 Sioux Uprising.

Her new book, "Pomme De Terre" (North Star Press, $14.95), tells of the uprising's aftermath as it affected western Minnesota.

Larry McMurtry, author of "Lonesome Dove" and other novels set in the 19th century, calls Simar's new work "one of the best I've seen" of the Sioux Uprising.

"Frozen Tundra," by Rick Shefchick (North Star Press, 14.95) is coming out to coincide with the pro football season. Those who think the Brett Favre will I won't I play, act II, was exciting ain't seen nothin' yet. Shefchick, former Pioneer Press sports reporter, has penned the Sam Skarda Sports Thriller series, in which former police detective and golfer Skarda is hired to work for the Green Bay Packers.

No, not as a quarterback. There's a plot afoot to sell the publicly owned Packers to a private buyer. To make matters worse, one of the plotters is only two votes short of an election to sell to the private buyer.

To make matters even worse, widower Skarda also has to protect his ex girlfriend, who just happens to be the Packers' team physician and is being stalked by her ex-husband.

Shefchick seasons his plot with lots of recognizable sports news and upper Midwestern atmosphere. The entire first chapter, a grisly one at that, deals with a murder at a pit bull match near the St. Croix River. Attending the match is a pro athlete who has already been warned about sponsoring such uncivilized events.

The pro? A quarterback for -- the Minnesota Vikings.

What a touching story is "You and No Other," by Jane Weiss and Bonnie Zahn (North Star Press of St. Cloud, $14.95 paper).

Weiss and Zahn are nurses and meet at a hospital cafeteria many years ago. They feel a powerful attraction and begin to live together, much to the anguish of friends and relatives. The story is told in both voices, first Weiss, then Zahn.

Eventually, their closest associates begin to realize they've done what's best for them. A thoroughly eye-opening narrative, told with frankness and skill.

Here's a book to throw into your glove compartment when you take a drive into the St. Croix Valley. It's "The Historic St. Croix Valley: A Guided Tour," by Deborah Morse-Kahn (Minnesota Historical Society Press, $15.95 paper). Included in the book are guides to:

Ojibwa and Kakota Indian sites; logging, railroad, milling and shipping history; state and regional parks, forests, and wildlife areas; National Register historic properties and districts; storied bridges and the remnants of a military road; the geographic formations of the dells on the St. Croix.

Morse-Kahn told me all manner of stuff I didn't know, even about my own neighborhood in River Falls. Just down the street from me is a National Historic Register Building, South Hall, at UW-River Falls.

Also in my neighborhood is another National Register site called the Roscius and Lydia Freeman House, a beautiful bungalow which I call the Paul and Marge Stokke house, because that's who lives there now.

If I had a complaint it might be that the book is deficient in mentioning good places to eat and to bed down at. I know how to eat and how to sleep. She should have asked me.

Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.