Books: Mixed (Historical) Fiction

THE BUFFALO SOLDIERS, by John Prebble (256 pp.; Harcourt, Brace; $3.95], takes the reader back to the Indian territory (later part of the state of Oklahoma) in 1868, when the bit was tight on both horse and recruit. The pay rate for cavalrymen was "thirteen dollars a month, less twelve and a half cents deduction for the Soldiers' Home," and the odds against a man's getting back from a patrol were a little better than those for eventually getting to the home. The particular buffalo soldiers of the title are an ill-horsed detachment of Negro volunteers, all former slaves and displaced...

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