New Hugh Glass Biography Coming in May from State Historical Society

Mclaird - Hugh Glass (CI)PIERRE, S.D.—This spring, readers will be able to learn the true story behind frontiersman Hugh Glass, who is currently portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the Hollywood blockbuster “The Revenant.” As Oscar buzz continues to mount for the movie, the South Dakota State Historical Society is getting ready to release “Hugh Glass: Grizzly Survivor”by James D. McLaird in May.


The most famous grizzly bear attack in the history of the American West took place in 1823 and left Glass struggling for life. Setting out on a journey of revenge and forgiveness, he eventually crawled 200 miles across the plains back to civilization. The story of Hugh Glass has provided fertile ground for articles, books and film, but the real man remains much a mystery.


“Hugh Glass continues to be a larger-than-life character who occupies a significant place in American folklore,” says Nancy Tystad Koupal, director of the South Dakota Historical Society Press. “However, little has been done to create an accurate historical biography that looks at the other narratives written about him.”


McLaird, a Mitchell historian, traces the few existing threads of Glass’ life and delves into the role of popular history in making a legend. He also looks at the grizzly bear itself, examining popular sentiments towards the creature that led to its near extinction.


“Had it not been for a chance encounter with a grizzly bear along the Grand River in what is now northwestern South Dakota,” says McLaird, “Hugh Glass would barely warrant a passing note in fur trade history. That fact made researching him a challenge.”


McLaird is professor emeritus of history at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell. He is the author of the second South Dakota Biography Series book “Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane: Deadwood Legends” and numerous articles on the Black Hills and American West. 


“Hugh Glass: Grizzly Survivor”is the latest addition to the South Dakota Biography Series published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press. The book will be available in May for $14.95, plus shipping and tax. It can be preordered directly from the South Dakota Historical Society Press at or by calling (605) 773-6009. Follow the South Dakota Historical Society Press on Facebook (SDHS Press) and Twitter (@sdhspress) for more information.




Editor’s Note:Email for publicity information and to contact the author.


About the South Dakota State Historical Society

The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call (605) 773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call (605) 394-1936 for more information.


Working Cattle with Ed Lemmon; or, A Town Boy Explains How Not to Ride Line

Let me confess: I’m a total town boy. I’ve lived in South Dakota most of my life, but I couldn’t tell you what a combine actually does, how to tell an Angus from a Hereford, or when winter wheat is in the fields (I feel like that has to be a trick question).

It’s pretty sad, really. Agriculture is key to understanding the history and heritage of South Dakota, but I could tell you more about Populist farmers’ attitudes toward binder-twine manufacturers than about what they actually did with the twine. Seems like a basic part of my perspective is incomplete.

Sanderson - Controlled Recklessness (CI)But it’s never too late to learn. That’s why I’ve enjoyed working with Controlled Recklessness, Nathan Sanderson’s biography of stock-raising legend Ed Lemmon. Not only could Lemmon saddle-handle cattle better than anyone else; unlike most cowboys, he also climbed the ladder of success and acquired a significant interest in one of the biggest outfits of its day in West River South Dakota. Sanderson’s book covers Lemmon’s colorful life as both a cowboy and a cattleman, and it taught me, to take just one example, how a roundup actually works. In theory.

As I was driving back to Pierre from Rapid City along Highway 14 early one morning this spring, I noticed a couple of little black calves hanging out on my side of the fence. Somebody should do something about those baby cows, I thought dismissively, and drove on.

Over the next mile my conscience wore me down. What would Ed Lemmon do? it asked, and finally I heaved a sigh and turned around, drove back past the calves, and parked. I made sure I had my phone, in case I had to call an ambulance, and my wallet, in case I had to be identified. Then I set off on foot across the road to—well, I’m a town boy. I didn’t know what I was doing.

My first naïve assumption was quickly dispelled. I had pictured myself ambling along beside these two spring calves, humming a little folksy tune, possibly having to nudge them with a hiking stick (yes, somehow in my imagination I had a hiking stick) to keep them moving. Well, they were having none of that. As soon as I got within about twenty yards, they cantered off down the fence line. This happened two or three times. To add to my disillusion, the first gate that I came to was not actually a gate. I didn’t even know what a gate looked like. What if there were no gates?

Finally my luck turned. I had trudged up onto the shoulder to discourage the calves from taking after the chicken and crossing the road, and from my new height, I could see a little streambed where the fence seemed to be lower. Presently the calves reached the bank and stopped, and as I moved directly behind them, the more athletic of the two jumped the fence handily and trotted off into the pasture. Okay, so far so good.

The second calf now experienced an agony of doubt and misgiving. Should it 1) jump, 2) run up and down the fence with me for all eternity, or 3) stand there and hope I was a nice guy? Finally option number one appeared to win out, and the animal screwed up its little nerve and took the plunge—literally. It landed ungracefully in the shallow water, but got out of the stream like a champ, shook it off, and hotfooted it for the safety of mom.

My pastoral idyll over, I noticed that it was a pretty chilly morning, and that my car was parked a lot farther away than I thought. Well, Ed Lemmon would have no sympathy for my discomfort—he had broken his leg handling cattle too often for that—so I sucked it up and walked briskly back, enjoying my success. Alas, I still couldn’t claim to have rounded up any beeves; technically, I had only been riding line. In a tiny Toyota.

Look forward to Controlled Recklessness, which we’ll be releasing next month at the South Dakota Festival of Books. Ed Lemmon is an inspiring character (as you can clearly see)—one of the last greats of the open range. His legacy is written all over the map of West River South Dakota.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear a stampede over across the bluffs. I’d better go see about that.



Controlled Recklessness: Ed Lemmon and the Open Range is available for pre-order at the South Dakota Historical Society Press website,, for $29.95. It will be released in hardcover on September 25, 2015.

Contact for publicity information or to schedule an interview or event with Nathan Sanderson.

Pre-order “Natives of a Dry Place: Stories of Dakota before the Oil Boom”

Edwards - Natives of a Dry Place (CI)“As a child, I thought of my town—as most children probably do—as just an ordinary place. . . . Yet I have come to think that there were exceptional things in the lives of its people and especially in the values and virtues that they believed in and aspired to.”—Richard Edwards

Before the oil industry transformed western North Dakota, the natives of Stanley went about their normal, everyday lives. Postmen, farmers, housewives, doctors, and other residents of the bustling town held certain qualities close as they cultivated the cultural fabric of the Great Plains. For generations, inhabitants of this wheat-growing region developed a combination of resoluteness, steadfastness, devotion to the community, and ever-present modesty.

Contrasting these values with the trials of the modern oil-boom community, author Richard Edwards examines the old town’s virtues through the stories of those who built and sustained a community on the dry, open plains in the twentieth century. A deeply personal look at a small North Dakota town, Natives of a Dry Place focuses on a not-so-distant past and takes readers on a journey of reflection to a time before big oil. Edwards uses his experience as both a historian and an economist to delve into the overarching questions of what makes a community and how it survives during times of upheaval.

R Edwards photo a 3.27.15Richard Edwards is director of the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of
Nebraska–Lincoln. He has written twelve books and numerous articles and has spent a lifetime working in academia. Edwards received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and also served as chair of the Economics Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


Natives of a Dry Place: Stories of Dakota before the Oil Boom will be released at the South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood on September 25, 2015. It will be available for $16.95, plus shipping and tax.

Pre-order Natives of a Dry Place at or by calling (605) 773-6009.

Contact for publicity information, a review copy, or to schedule an interview or event with Richard Edwards.

Pre-Orders Open For Upcoming Ed Lemmon Biography

“Ed Lemmon epitomized the rough-and-ready spirit that built today’s cowboy culture. Nathan Sanderson has made a significant contribution to our history in recording and exploring the life of this amazing South Dakotan.”—Bernie Hunhoff, South Dakota Magazine

Sanderson - Controlled Recklessness (CI)

Pre-order Controlled Recklessness: Ed Lemmon and the Open Range for only $25.00, plus shipping and tax. Customers who pre-order will receive a hardcover copy of the book signed by author Nathan Sanderson. This special pre-order offer ends 1 September 2015. Controlled Recklessness retails for $29.95.

More information to come! Be sure to follow the South Dakota Historical Society Press blog.

Memoir Receives Multiple Accolades

SD LIPP ACORD COVERCircling Back Home: A Plainswoman’s Journey is a finalist in the 2014 WILLA Literary Awards and a nominee in the 2014 Will Rogers Medallion Awards. Written by first-time author Darcy Lipp-Acord, the book has been well received since its publication by the South Dakota State Historical Society in 2013. In Circling Back Home, Lipp-Acord looks to her past to create a life of significance for her family at a time when values of home, family and care of the land seem increasingly absent. She mourns the loss of one child and celebrates the births of others while balancing her own desire to put down roots with her husband’s life as an itinerant ranch hand. Written over 10 years, Lip-Acord’s essays compose a picture of endurance and grace as the author addresses her history and finds her way home. Award-winning author Linda M. Hasselstrom contributes a foreword, stating that “Circling Back Home reflects the life of a ranch woman in all its prismatic variety.” “Darcy Lipp-Acord has written a great testament to American values and the experience of women on the plains,” said South Dakota State Historical Society Director Jay D. Vogt. “Different than the typical cowboy or cowgirl narrative, her book shares the story of countless women who worked to keep their families together in an unforgiving landscape.” “Because she writes well and makes us care, it is a joy when Darcy Lipp-Acord can say, ‘I feel like I’ve finally arrived,’” says Susan Schoch, reviewer for Story Circle Book Reviews. “How she gets there makes a fine story … a good one to pass along to a friend.” The WILLA Literary Award is named in honor of Willa Cather, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. It is awarded annually for outstanding literature featuring women’s stories set in the West and is chosen by a panel of professional librarians. Circling Back Home was named a finalist in the Creative Non-fiction category. Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life, also published by the State Historical Society, won in 2008.

In October the winners and ranking for the Will Rogers Medallion Award will be announced at a ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas. Circling Back Home was nominated in the Western Biographies and Memoirs category and is the first South Dakota Historical Society Press book to be nominated for a Will Rogers Medallion Award. Originally created to recognize quality works of cowboy poetry that honored the Will Rogers heritage, the award has expanded to include all works of Western literature. Circling Back Home is available for $16.95 plus shipping and tax and can be purchased from most bookstores or ordered directly from the South Dakota Historical Society Press. Visit, call (605) 773-6009 or email

Official Press Release

“Hägar the Horrible” Cartoonist Pens Children’s Book for State Historical Society

ƒ The Monster Case OTP.inddChris Browne, the cartoonist of “Hägar the Horrible,” has written and illustrated his first children’s book, “The Monster Who Ate the State,” for the South Dakota State Historical Society. The book will be released at the first South Dakota Young Readers Festival on Thursday, Sept. 25, in Brookings.

“The Monster Who Ate the State” opens with scientists working in an underground laboratory, where they awaken a creature slumbering beneath the earth. With a large roar, Soozy the dinosaur emerges from the Black Hills looking for food, and she discovers a world far different from the one she left behind. Munching on motorcycles, chasing bison and seeing the sights across South Dakota, Soozy hunts for a new place to call home and sparks panic among the state’s inhabitants.

“Dedicated to the children of South Dakota, Chris Browne’s book is a fun and engaging story that shares important facts and information about our state. It also includes a colorful map that shows Soozy’s journey,” says Nancy Tystad Koupal, director of the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. “It is a wonderful addition to our collection, and Soozy will be an instant South Dakota classic.”

Born in South Orange, N.J., Browne brings the prehistoric Soozy to life as he regales readers with her adventures and describes the unique places she visits in the Mount Rushmore State. Browne now lives in Sioux Falls with his wife, Carroll. He is a syndicated cartoonist and artist whose works can be found all over the world.

“The Monster Who Ate the State” will be available for $19.95 plus shipping and tax and may be purchased from most bookstores or ordered directly from the SDSHS Press. Visit, email or call (605) 773-6009. “The Monster Who Ate the State” is suitable for first- to fourth-grade readers or as a book to be read aloud to younger children. Pre-orders are currently being accepted by the SDSHS Press.

More information about Browne’s participation in the Young Readers Festival can be found by contacting the event’s sponsor, the South Dakota Humanities Council, at (605) 688-6113, or by visiting

Official Press Release

Soozy Sleeps