The best books on the Iroquois

Many authors have picked their favorite books about the Iroquois and why they recommend each book.

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Chicago's Awful Theatre Horror- by the Survivors and rescuers

By Bishop Fallows,

Book cover of Chicago's Awful Theatre Horror- by the Survivors and rescuers

“POP!” An arc light sets to kill over 600 people in the Iroquois Theatre. In 1903 the lack of safety, faulty and missing equipment, greed, and ego caused the deadliest theater fire in U.S. history. It began with briberies and ended with dismissed charges. There are books on the Iroquois Theatre fire, but this is a journal of eyewitness accounts written immediately after. Actors recount experiences behind the curtain, theater employees discuss their roles, and survivors talk about losing entire families. This book also discusses the aftermath, including the demand for criminal action. Negligence and outright illegal activity created the fire and the public paid in ashes - the final court decisions leave you outraged at a judicial system built for the wealthy.

The Iroquois Theatre fire set a precedent for fire prevention measures in place today. Had those in charge used prudence, higher expenditures, and legal requirements, over 600…


Who am I?

I am an award-winning true crime author, criminologist, and victims advocate who has written and presented on crime for over 30 years. I know that history teaches us how and why crime occurs and why it will happen again, but crime doesn't happen in a vacuum. History, personality, and human nature all play a part. There is always a "story behind the story." I appreciate true crime books that teach us rather than sensationalize. The faster we share knowledge, the easier it is to catch criminals.


I wrote...

When Nashville Bled: The untold stories of serial killer Paul Dennis Reid

By Judith A. Yates,

Book cover of When Nashville Bled: The untold stories of serial killer Paul Dennis Reid

What is my book about?

He was evil personified. In the Spring of 1997, a serial killer held Nashville, Tennessee in an icy grip of terror. Paul Dennis Reid, Jr. was caught and sentenced to seven death sentences, yet a new chapter began in the saga of one of the most heinous serial killers in our time, and the people whose lives he cut short. The victims were reduced to being called "the victims of Paul Reid." Until now. Here, for the first time, and with the approval of the family and friends, are the stories of those innocent, young people whose lives were ended far too soon. It is also the story of how a crime ripped a city apart.

Giving Thanks

By Chief Jake Swamp, Erwin Printup, Jr. (illustrator),

Book cover of Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message

I love the simple elegance of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) Thanksgiving address because it considers nature a gift. The address, on which this book is based, is spoken before every ceremonial or governmental gathering of the Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca, and Tuscarora). Children greet the world with the address each morning. They thank the people, the waters, the grasses, the plants, the animals, the winds, the rain, the Sun, the Moon, and the stars of the night sky. What a perfect way to stay connected to Nature!

Perfect for kids ages 5-11.


Who am I?

I’m a Sibert Honor author and write books for kids and teens about nature. Part biography, part science adventure, my books introduce readers to real scientists and the unexpected twists and turns of their discoveries. The more I research the more I discover hidden connections to our natural world that humble me and fill me with gratitude. I do my best to share these connections with readers in an accurate, truthful way to help them find their own “ah-ha” moments in life. I want them to say, “I can do this, too!”


I wrote...

Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean

By Patricia Newman, Annie Crawley (photographer),

Book cover of Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean

What is my book about?

The ocean’s story is our story. To prove it, Planet Ocean takes readers of all ages to three ocean regions to witness their unique connections to each other—and to us. On the journey, we’ll meet scientists working with new technologies, Indigenous peoples tackling changes to their traditional ways of life, and kids and teens who speak for our ocean. Through these stories the effects of climate change, ocean acidification, pollution, and overfishing become personal. QR code videos add an interactive storytelling dimension to show readers what happens beneath the waves when they’re not looking. By helping the ocean, we help ourselves. Planet Ocean is us.

Academy Award winning actor and environmentalist Jeff Bridges calls Planet Ocean “A must-read with your children.”

Sisters in Spirit

By Sally Roesch Wagner, John Fadden (illustrator),

Book cover of Sisters in Spirit

This provocative book examines the role and status of women in the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy and how 19th-century white feminists used them as role models in beginning their own fight for rights, including suffrage. It’s a quick read and kind of a life-changing one, really, especially if (like me) you’re completely ignorant of Native history and its relation to US history.  

Among other things, Haudenosaunee women had the right to choose and advise tribal leaders, and had far more control over their persons and their children than Euro-American women did. Wagner argues that close relationships with the Haudenosaunee influenced people like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage leading up to the famous Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.


Who am I?

My great-grandmother was a suffrage leader in Maine from roughly 1914-1920, and is the subject of my first book, Voting Down the Rose: Florence Brooks Whitehouse and Maine’s Fight for Woman Suffrage. Florence helped found and led the Maine branch of the Congressional Union, working closely with the indomitable Alice Paul. In 2015 I retraced the original route of an epic cross-country trip for suffrage; this led to my novel, We Demand: The Suffrage Road Trip. I did extensive research for both books and have become passionate about women’s rights history. I speak frequently on suffrage to students, historical societies, libraries, book clubs, and other groups.


I wrote...

We Demand: The Suffrage Road Trip

By Anne B. Gass,

Book cover of We Demand: The Suffrage Road Trip

What is my book about?

We Demand: The Suffrage Road Trip is based on the true story of an epic cross-country trip that took place in 1915. It was America's first trans-continental car trip for a cause- to demand that Congress pass an amendment to the US Constitution enfranchising women.

The story unfolds through the eyes of Ingeborg Kindstedt and Maria Kindberg, middle-aged, lesbian Swedish immigrants who own the car, do all the driving, and fix what goes wrong. The roads are often bad, and the weather is worse. They lose their way in a trackless Nevada desert and get stuck in the mud in Kansas, amid many other adventures. Will they arrive in DC at the appointed day and time?

People of the Longhouse

By W. Michael Gear, Kathleen O'Neal Gear,

Book cover of People of the Longhouse: A Novel of North America's Forgotten Past

No list of historical fiction depicting the Indians’ way of life would be complete without the inclusion of a book by the Gears, who’ve written many novels of Native life years before the arrival of European explorers.

I like this book because it’s a bit of a retelling of Hansel and Gretel set in the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) culture. Two young children are among many captured by a witch and bound for an uncertain fate. The book delves into the widespread fear of witches in many Indian cultures and also offers a glimpse of life among the Haudenosaunee, who famously lived in large agricultural communities, dwelling in longhouses surrounded by palisades.


Who am I?

I’ve written seven books, all along the theme of adventure in one way or another, but my best-known work is that of my novels of the Ojibwe Indians. As a child, I grew up on a farm where my dad discovered scores of arrowheads and artifacts while plowing the fields. This was a deep revelation for me as to the extent of Indian culture and how little we know of its people. In my books, Windigo Moon and The Wolf and The Willow, I try to bring the world of the 1500s and its Native peoples to life.


I wrote...

The Wolf and The Willow

By Robert Downes,

Book cover of The Wolf and The Willow

What is my book about?

The Wolf and The Willow is a novel of first contact between Native peoples and European explorers. Willow, a house slave of a Moroccan lord, is swept up in the 1528 expedition of conquistador Panfilo Narvaez to the New World. There, she meets Animi-Ma’lingan (He Who Outruns the Wolves), a young trader and storyteller who is on a mission to find a mysterious animal for the shamans of the Ojibwe people. Together, Willow and Wolf must outwit their captors on a journey up the Mississippi River through the heart of many thriving Indian civilizations.

The novel delves into the culture of the Ojibwe, Odawa, Mandan, Dakota Sioux, Caddo, and other tribes, culminating in a showdown at the great pyramid of Cahokia near present-day St. Louis.

The Iroquois in the War of 1812

By Carl Benn,

Book cover of The Iroquois in the War of 1812

This book written by a leading scholar of indigenous history fills a serious gap in scholarly studies of that conflict. Whether or not to remain neutral or, if they participated, which side to support in the war were life and death decisions for the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee. Benn’s account with a very informative appendix and bibliography adds to our understanding of how those nations responded.


Who am I?

From my childhood, I loved to read and as I passed through school, I became increasingly fascinated by the lives and activities of people in the past. History became my passion during my high school years when I learned how to research and write historical accounts. During my thirty-eight-year teaching career, I focused my research and writings on pioneer life in Canada, immigration, and the war of 1812. I’m the author of six books, 17 biographies, and numerous articles and chapters in books. My experience as an editor began in high school with the school’s yearbook and has continued through my teaching years and into retirement. With history, there’s always more to learn.


I wrote...

The Astonishing General: The Life and Legacy of Sir Isaac Brock

By Wesley B. Turner,

Book cover of The Astonishing General: The Life and Legacy of Sir Isaac Brock

What is my book about?

The award-winning Astonishing General is a fresh look at Major General Isaac Brock. On October 13, 1812, he failed to prevent an American invasion at Queenston and he was killed early in the battle. Much later, the invaders were repulsed but it was the dead Brock who received the credit and immediately became lauded as the ‘Hero of Upper Canada’ No other British officer of that war received such immediate and lasting glorification from the military, the civilian population, and indigenous warriors.

This book also includes five appendices with content not found in other biographies.

From Where We Stand

By Deborah Tall,

Book cover of From Where We Stand: Recovering a Sense of Place

As books by academics are apt to be, this wonderfully rich account of the history of New York’s Finger Lakes region is replete with references, quotes, and poetic stories. Tall begins with the manner in which the Iroquois Confederacy was divided and driven out during the Revolutionary War, and progresses through the influences of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, a heavily guarded military base, and struggles with blight in Geneva, New York. “Place” is explored through the lenses of the natural environment, language, religion, psychology, racism, and more. Indeed, Tall’s approach to understanding the community she adopted can be replicated on lands all over the world. 


Who am I?

Born in 1969 as the seventh of eight children to two Harlem-raised parents, I benefited from both the inner-city life of Queens, New York and childhood summers spent on a farm in rural upstate New York. Academic, professional, and physical accomplishments have punctuated my life. An adventurer by nature, I became the first African American to hike to the top of every mountain in the northeast US over 4,000' (115 of them) by September of 2000. At that time, less than 400 people had accomplished this feat; whereas thousands have scaled Mount Everest. My home city’s iconic landmarks create a psychological veil that blinds people to the vast open spaces that dominate New York State. 


I wrote...

Echoes from the Farm

By Jonathan T. Jefferson,

Book cover of Echoes from the Farm

What is my book about?

In the early 1970s, when the author (a.k.a. "John-John") was a young child, his parents did something unprecedented for a working-class African American family from Queens: They bought an old, dilapidated farmhouse in Upstate New York's dairy country as a summer home for them and their eight children. Initially fish out of water, over the next decade the Jefferson family became part of the landscape, the children eagerly anticipating those precious weeks of adventure in cow country. Journey with John-John as he reminisces: Enjoy the way his most vivid recollections are brought to life by wonderful illustrations. And be inspired to embark on your own adventure to build precious memories for you and your family.

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