About the BookNovember 1873. Dr. Willis Danforth of Illinois treats Mary Todd Lincoln for â€˜nervous derangement and fever in the head.' Mrs. Lincoln blames her madness on an American Indian, telling doctors that an Indian spirit lifts her scalp each night and replaces it by dawn, sometimes cutting a bone from her cheek. Confined to the Bellevue Place Sanitarium for insanity, she talks to the Savage Indian and the sentient Rope, part man and part image of the hangman's noose, and both reminders of her husband's decision to hang 38 Dakota in 1862 Mankato, the largest mass-execution in US history.
Part theater of the absurd, part highly stylized biography, part historical archive, this daring cross-genre narrative traces the limits of one woman's sanity, the betrayals of a family, and the contradictions and crimes on which the U.S. is founded.