Is anyone not fascinated by cases of captives who lived among Indians and escaped to tell about it? This novel opens with a Kiowa raid on settlers in northern Texas in the 1870s. So convincingly does Jiles imagine her characters - Indian, white, and black - and compellingly tell their stories that it comes as a surprise that much here is based on real people and events. Jack Garrett's performance is stellar. Three different races - men, women, and children - come vividly to life, their personalities distinct even though their stories are separated from ours by more than a century. It's a sweeping tale, never dry or fact-bound, and Garrett's sympathetic attention and unflagging skill are a perfect match for Jiles's marvelous invention.
Samuel Hammond follows a different road west. A Quaker whose fortune is destroyed by a capricious act of an inscrutable God, he has resigned himself to the role the Deity has chosen for him. As a new agent for the Office of Indian Affairs, it is Hammond's goal to ferret out corruption and win justice for the noble natives now in his charge. But the proud, stubborn people refuse to cease their raids, free their prisoners, and accept the farming implements and lifestyle the white man would foist upon them, adding fuel to smoldering tensions that threaten to turn a man of peace, faith, and reason onto a course of terrible retribution.
A soaring work of the imagination based on oral histories of the post - Civil War years in North Texas, Paulette Jiles's The Color of Lightning is at once an intimate look into the hearts and hopes of tragically flawed human beings and a courageous reexamination of a dark American ...
©2009 Paulette Jiles; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
Elderly (1932), retired university professor, degrees in engineering and economics.
This is not a typical tale of cowboys and Indians, but a well written look at at the period of the great American expansion into the west. When major social shifts occur, a period of of time between the ending of one era and the start of the next is created. These periods of tension and unrest often raise hard questions about the changes intended to solve problems. Jiles raises some questions about the goals of the Civil War and of the country’s western expansion.
Her characters are well developed. Britt, a legally free Black man whose wife Mary and children are taken during a Commanche and Kiowa Indian raid and an Agent of the Indian Affairs Agency, Samuel, from an old Quaker family “Back East.”
When free “Coloreds,” Indians who are required to live on reservations, Comancheros from New Mexico and south of the Rio Grande, and mixed race people from the interbreeding among captives and captors of all races are thrown together in a time of unrest, strong ethnic, religious and political emotions, Jiles gives us a bit of the history of North Texas.
Samuel devoutly defends and tries to live his Quaker faith in non-violence. He refuses to wear a weapon or to allow military guards to accompany him on his visits to the reservations where he tries to bargain with the leaders for the return of the women and children they have abducted. The Indian view is: We never asked for reservation. We reject your “civilization.” Blacks and Whites are legally equals, but that will take over a century to become a reality.
The refusal to return captured women and children had its inevitable consequences. The book makes one wonder if what we think is best for us, is not necessarily best for others? When is non-violence not the solution? Why do people not care about your “legal” equality? What happens when your ideas about civilization are not mine? When does might make right? It is easy to highly recommend this book. It is an interesting listen.
Although I didn't like the narrator at first, he did grow on me. I learned a lot reading this book and I was especially grateful for how the author helped me to understand the conflict between Native Americans and the settlers of the old west. Even though the story was told primarily from the point of view of one black family, I was equally able to see the situation from the Indian point of view. This is a great story and a great read.
Read this twice through public libraries. Want to own my copy. Britt Johnson, the "colored" ex-slave was also mentioned in the gritty best seller, "Empire of the Summer Moon." In my humble opinion, this is Jiles best book. So many are uneducated about how blacks were involved in the settling of the West, because it is not taught in most schools in the United States. Hope you will be as delighted as I was.
Did not read the print. Learned to enjoy audio books when I drove an 18 wheeler. Still use them to multitask.
Britt Johnson. Oh to have someone love me that much/
Do not read at the dinner table.
This book was excellent. I got a real sense of both the danger and beauty of the wilderness in Indian territory during the mid 19th Century. The first half was slow and meandering but established a mood and understanding of life on the frontier and its constant risks to settlers. The author also provided extensive descriptions on how native Americans lived and struggled to survive, deftly capturing the differences in mentality, place and view of the world, between settlers and natives. The ending was unexpected yet seemed inevitable. I cannot help but feel compassion and respect for the families who attempted to make lives on the border of Indian territory even though it eventually brought utter loss and devastation to the native peoples. The writing was fair and seemed accurate (I cringe when finding modern speech or references in historical novels). The narrator, who sounds like a cowboy, seemed suited to the story.
no, i dont re-listen to books
Britt, but there are so many great ones
He does the voices
good narration, he does the voices. Id never heard the story of Britt Johnson before, so it was fun tying in this book to the history. Careful though, the author, although a literary writer with lovely descriptions, pushes you into situations without warning. The violence is as matter of fact, I imagine, as it was a part of life in the old west. If you like stories of survival, the old west and native peoples, you will enjoy this book!
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