The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers

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While Mr. Powers may be faulted for the structure of his book, he cannot be faulted for the depth of his research...He has worked out to his satisfaction what happened and where, and he has told the story in characteristically readable prose.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

He was the greatest Indian warrior of the nineteenth century. His victory over General Custer at the battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 was the worst defeat inflicted on the frontier Army. And the death of Crazy Horse in federal custody has remained a controversy for more than a century.

The Killing of Crazy Horse pieces together the many sources of fear and misunderstanding that resulted in an official killing hard to distinguish from a crime. A rich cast of characters, whites and Indians alike, passes through this story, including Red Cloud, the chief who dominated Oglala history for fifty years but saw in Crazy Horse a dangerous rival; No Water and Woman Dress, both of whom hated Crazy Horse and schemed against him; the young interpreter Billy Garnett, son of a fifteen-year-old Oglala woman and a Confederate general killed at Gettysburg; General George Crook, who bitterly resented newspaper reports that he had been whipped by Crazy Horse in battle; Little Big Man, who betrayed Crazy Horse; Lieutenant William Philo Clark, the smart West Point graduate who thought he could “work” Indians to do the Army’s bidding; and Fast Thunder, who called Crazy Horse cousin, held him the moment he was stabbed, and then told his grandson thirty years later, “They tricked me! They tricked me!”

At the center of the story is Crazy Horse himself, the warrior of few words whom the Crow said they knew best among the Sioux, because he always came closest to them in battle. No photograph of him exists today.

The death of Crazy Horse was a traumatic event not only in Sioux but also in American history. With the Great Sioux War as background and context, drawing on many new materials as well as documents in libraries and archives, Thomas Powers recounts the final months and days of Crazy Horse’s life not to lay blame but to establish what happened.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Thomas Powers

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Thomas Powers is the author of The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA, Heisenberg's War: The Secret History of the German Bomb, Intelligence Wars, and The Confirmation, a novel. He won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 1971 and has contributed to The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, Harper's, The Nation, The Atlantic, and Rolling Stone.
 
Published November 2, 2010 by Vintage. 592 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction
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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Robert M. Utley on Nov 27 2010

While Mr. Powers may be faulted for the structure of his book, he cannot be faulted for the depth of his research...He has worked out to his satisfaction what happened and where, and he has told the story in characteristically readable prose.

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