Crazy Horse was as much feared by tribal foes as he was honored by allies. His war record was unmatched by any of his peers, and his rout of Custer at the Little Bighorn reverberates through history. Yet so much about him is unknown or steeped in legend.
Crazy Horse: A Lakota Life corrects older, idealized accounts and draws on a greater variety of sources than other recent biographies to expose the real Crazy Horse: not the brash Sioux warrior we have come to expect but a modest, reflective man whose courage was anchored in Lakota piety. Kingsley M. Bray has plumbed interviews of Crazy Horse’s contemporaries and consulted modern Lakotas to fill in vital details of Crazy Horse’s inner and public life.
Bray places Crazy Horse within the rich context of the nineteenth-century Lakota world. He reassesses the war chief’s achievements in numerous battles and retraces the tragic sequence of misunderstandings, betrayals, and misjudgments that led to his death. Bray also explores the private tragedies that marred Crazy Horse’s childhood and the network of relationships that shaped his adult life.
To this day, Crazy Horse remains a compelling symbol of resistance for modern Lakotas. Crazy Horse: A Lakota Life is a singular achievement, scholarly and authoritative, offering a complete portrait of the man and a fuller understanding of his place in American Indian and United States history.
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Kingsley M. Bray is Senior Bookseller at BMA Hammicks Medical Bookshop in Manchester, England. He has spent the past twenty years researching Plains Indian, especially Lakota, history and ethnology.From Booklist:
Although Crazy Horse has been a favorite subject for decades, many key aspects of his short life have remained enigmatic. In this extensively documented account, Bray utilizes a diverse array of primary sources, including contemporary Indian agent reports, personal military diaries, annual reports of the U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and surprisingly detailed oral histories recorded in interviews with Crazy Horse's contemporaries nearly 50 years after his death. Bray documents not only the chief's well-known battles but also some of the more personal elements of his life, including his mother's suicide, his marriages, his visions, and his initiation into the Strong Hearts, a Lakota isolationist group that eschewed all contact with Americans. Crazy Horse's belief in the importance of the Black Hills to Lakota survival eventually leads him on the path to the Little Bighorn in June 1876, and to his death a year later. Bray's account not only traces the major steps taken by this remarkable chief, but also places them within the context of Lakota culture, past and present. Deborah Donovan
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