Congratulations to Robert A. McNally!

The Commonwealth Club announces the winners of the 87th annual California Book Awards!

Since 1931, the California Book Awards have honored the exceptional literary merit of California writers and publishers. Each year a select jury considers hundreds of books from around the state in search of the very best in literary achievement. Eligible books must be written while the author is a resident in California, and must be published during the year under consideration.

This year, Bison Books and the University of Nebraska Press is honored to share that The Modoc War: A Story of Genocide at the Dawn of America’s Gilded Age (Bison Books, 2017) by Robert A. McNally was awarded the gold medal in the Californiana category.

Although little known today, the Modoc War dominated national headlines for an entire year. Fought in south-central Oregon and northeastern California, the war settled into a siege in the desolate Lava Beds and climaxed the decades-long effort to dispossess and destroy the Modocs.

The war did not end with the last shot fired, however. For the first and only time in U.S. history, Native fighters were tried and hanged for war crimes. The surviving Modocs were packed into cattle cars and shipped from Fort Klamath to the corrupt, disease-ridden Quapaw reservation in Oklahoma, where they found peace even more lethal than war.


In Publishers Weekly, McNally was praised as a strong storyteller with a conversational style and an eye for telling details. The review went on to say, “this honest accounting of the cruelty, corruption, and savagery of the settlers—who believed their actions were smiled upon by God—takes a step forward in correcting a sanitized and muffled history.”

McNally is a freelance writer and editor based in Concord, California. He is the author or coauthor of nine nonfiction books.

Book lovers from around the state will gather on Monday, June 12, at 6 p.m. at 110 The Embarcadero in San Francisco to recognize the winners at a special program and reception. For tickets, call (415) 597-6700.

Congratulations, Robert!

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