12/28/12 ** The author was at the Authors' Fair at the Indiana Historical Society earlier this month, & I had a chance to meet and talk with him. I was first drawn to the inclusion of Fall Creek in the title, since I live within a mile of one branch of the creek - though this massacre was far out of town.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this non-fiction text. The first chapter depicted the massacre itself, which served as a hook to the remainder of the book. Chapters 2 & 3 explained life in central Indiana for both the Native Americans and the white settlers and frontiersman. I was fascinated to read the nuanced account of the conflicts and points of cooperation among the many traditions. Rather than dividing the people into two large groups - white and non-white - Murphy explained the fractures within the groups and the synergistic points of commonality across different native tribes and those in the white community who had different goals.
Chapters 4 & 5 were devoted to the trial of the murderers and the political damage-control. In these chapters, I especially appreciated Murphy's effort to sort out the conflicting accounts of the murders, pre-trial events, and trials. He was careful to explain what could be corroborated and where there were minimal records to support conclusions. He also worked to speak from more than one perspective, not privileging either the Native or White views.
An excellent book that left me with a deeper understanding of Indiana in the time immediately following its statehood.