Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In“I Will Fight No More Forever”: Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War, Merrill D. Beal created, in essence, many books: a biography, a history text, an anthropological study, and a military report. The book documents the conflict between some Nez Perces and the United States military in 1877. Over four months and three states, several clans within the tribe that had refused initially to move to a reservation retreated toward Canada before surrendering within forty miles of the border. Beal’s book recalls this flight in six general chapters that are divided further into specific incidents, usually battles. The first and last chapters serve as bookends to the events of 1877: One examines the beliefs, history, and nature of the tribe before the conflict, while the other relates its fate afterward.

Beal outlines the attitudes of the Nez Perces toward white settlers, noting that the tribe hosted the Lewis and Clark expedition. This initial feeling of trust was undermined, however, as the tribe endured more than seventy years of abuse with amazing restraint. The book then chronicles the decline in formal relations between the chiefs and the government representatives and, finally, the outbreak of violence by a dozen young warriors that led to a full military confrontation.

“I Will Fight No More Forever” becomes a narrative account of the battles and tactics of both sides. Beal gives equal attention to the U.S. commanders...

(The entire section is 428 words.)