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Myrl C. Jaquith
5.0 out of 5 starsAn Honest Well-Researched Account of a Controversial Figure in American History
Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2018
I really did not find anything to dislike other than treatment of Native people by the dominant society. Although I did not conduct extensive research to verify facts, this account seemed to be a factual, honest account of the life of Crazy Horse III without making up items to spice up the story. We need this kind of honest reporting to set the records straight.
I purchased this book over a year ago and just recently took it down from my library to read it. (I do this regularly finding a book that interests me buying it and then setting it aside to read at a later time, when I feel I am in the proper mood.)
Mr. Bray's book is everything I had hoped for and I am a bit surprised by some of the reviews stating disappointment mostly based on criticisms as to it not being a proper "history." Considering the oral traditions of the North American Indian any history/biography of this type must of necessity be replete in "opinion. " For without that it would be near impossible to move the story along. Mr. Bray has, as has many biographers, used the statements of others as sometimes-primary source material. While some may wish a better foundation, in the case of Crazy Horse (who's middle name must have been "reticence") one must make educated use of what is at hand. I believe the author has done a splendid job in doing just that.
What I found compelling was the deep perusal of the Plains Indians religion, better stated perhaps as their spiritual existence. Everything about the day-to-day activities of Crazy Horse and his people were unified, in some way, to their belief in the world of the spirit. Mr. Bray explores this and brings the difference between Native American and European culture into sharp focus, at least in this one respect. All of us "white eyes" would benefit in attempting to understand more deeply the importance the life of the spirit played and still plays in Indian culture.
In reading "Crazy Horse A Lakota Life" I was transported to the beautiful, never ending prairies of Wyoming and Montana, the fresh clean odor of prairie grass, hearing the burbling streams and the soft nicker of a Sioux warriors pony.
Reviewed in the United States on November 28, 2007
This is a thoroughly researched book about an inspired Sioux leader who gained the respect of his people while helping his people try to achieve a preservation of their nomadic and hunter-gatherer way of life. The author helps us to understand the culture of the Sioux tribes, their history, how they migrated to the Black Hills and how they came to believe the Black Hills were the sacred place of their people. They were viewed by one military authority quoted in this book as "the best light cavalry in the world". Their battle strategy, mobility, courage, tenacity, defense of their families and the numbers of strong leaders they produced enabled the Sioux tribes and related allies to hold out against the overwhelming power of the United States Army for longer than anyone may have expected possible.
The author first gives the reader a grounding in Sioux culture and history, in organization of the tribes, and in the way in which Crazy Horse became a brave and the most capable and daring warrior among his people. The we learn about the pressures placed upon the Sioux by the Western Push of the European easterners. The decimation of the buffalo. The disruption of the hunting grounds, food supply, of the Sioux. Battles are described in detail with maps which, while a bit difficult to follow, are adequate to support the text. Then, as now, greed and avarice combined with state power, can contrive to displace a people from their homeland. Today we call it "eminent domain" or urban growth or economic displacement. In the time of Crazy Horse, the displaced indigenous peoples had nowhere to go but to a reservation where they would be greatly diminished in terms of personal freedom and reduced from independency to dependency. Some chose to resist at the point of a rifle on their side and cannon on the side of the US Army. Others chose to accept settlement, annual stipends, and the reservation.
The author presents us with the internal politics that took place among the Sioux leadership; those that favored peace at a price versus those that chose freedom at any cost. The book is full of surprises, things that I did not learn in school or in the popular press. The capability of the Sioux leadership in their negotiations was of interest. The impact of bias and prejudice and how it impacted upon choices made by US Army leaders is a theme we still see played out today in governments and countries around the world. Many of the Sioux chose to resist and many gave their lives in defense of their way of life. History tends to be written by the victors. The author gives the Sioux a chance to tell their side of the story. The ample photographs breathe further life into the narrative and there are plenty of good footnotes should a reader wish to explore further. Of course, the most important aspect of the book is that we get to see a lot of the action and the politics through the eyes of Crazy Horse and those close to him, many of whom would follow him into the fire.
One might find some ideas in this book to help one with one's personal philosophy regarding modern times and how indigenous peoples are treated today, well and poorly, in many parts of the world, including the USA.
5.0 out of 5 starsEXCELLENT Historical Book On Crazy Horse
Reviewed in the United States on October 7, 2015
AN EXCELLENT historical account of the life and times of Crazy Horse. The author has done a huge amount of personal research to put together the details of the life of Crazy Horse. The degree of detail, and the way that events were followed through the history of Crazy Horse - impressed me. Woven into the story is a lot of Lakota culture! Some people have criticized the book as not emphasizing the "spiritual significance" of Crazy Horse to his people. While that may be partly true, I also think there is a LOT to be gained by a careful look at the facts of his life. And the author has done this in spades - Crazy Horse was a clever tactician. He rejected notions that did not work. This does come across in the narrative. Highly Recommended!
5.0 out of 5 starsan excellent biography on Crazy Horse
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 15, 2015
an excellent biography on Crazy Horse, a difficult subject as he was never photographed or really interviewed.to gather so much information on such an elusive man is truly admirable .an interesting and compelling read, thoroughly enjoyed it and will re-read many times.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 28, 2013
This is a very detailed and enjoyable book. It covers areas that similar books on Crazy Horse don't. I have read just about every book on the subject of Crazy Horse. This book takes a slow, steady step by step journey through his life and gives great detail. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 starsL'ouvrage le plus complet sur Crazy Horse, leader des Oglala Lakota (Sioux)
Reviewed in France on December 17, 2019
Cet ouvrage en anglais est le plus complet, à mon sens, sur les différentes étapes de la vie jusqu’à l’assassinat de Crazy Horse. En effet, l’auteur a utilisé la plupart des témoignages existants des militaires, scouts, civils ou Lakota, de leurs alliés les Cheyenne mais aussi les ennemis Crow ( Absalookee) vivants à l’époque, pour réaliser ce monument. Kingsley Bray a également pris en compte la tradition orale actuelle en rencontrant des Lakota sur les réserves, durant plusieurs années, en la recoupant avec « la mémoire sur papier » des blancs. L’histoire, la culture Lakota, les cérémonies face à l’avancée des blancs, y sont également présentées en parallèle. Tasunke Witko (Crazy Horse) apparaît ici comme un être humain, sans fioritures, avec ses zones d’ombres (le fait qu’il ait dû tuer une femme pour aller dans le sens de sa vision par exemple…) et ses qualités les plus respectés au sein des indiens des Plaines, comme chasseur, scout et guerrier. Ce rôle de modèle, suite à ses multiples exploits et de tacticien (Massacre de Fetterman, Little Big Horn…) est développé d’une manière très précise. Pas d’excès romantiques, d’envolées mystiques à la Mari Sandoz comme dans son « Crazy Horse ». Rien n’est laissé au hasard. Un ouvrage essentiel, loin du mythe pour se rapprocher au plus près du leader Oglala. Ps : à lire également en compléments : " Crazy Horse : Une vie de héros" par Joseph Marshall III , moins précis plus dans l'esprit de la tradition orale Lakota ; "The killing of Crazy Horse" par Thomas Powers, très bien documenté et moins ardu à lire que celui de Bray.