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Fools Crow (Contemporary American Fiction) Paperback – Abridged, November 3, 1987


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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary American Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (November 3, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140089373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140089370
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Suspenseful and moving, written with an authenticity and integrity that give it sweeping power, Welch's third novel (The Death of Jim Loney is a masterful evocation of a Native American culture and its passing. From their lodges on the endless Montana plains, the members of the Lone Eaters band of the Pikuni (Blackfeet) Indians live in harmony with nature, hunting the "blackhorns" (buffalo), observing a complex system of political administration based on mutual respect and handing down legends that explain the natural world and govern daily conduct. The young protagonist is first called White Man's Dog, but earns the respected name Fools Crow for meritorious conduct in battle. Through his eyes we watch the escalating tensions between the Pikunis and the white men ("the Napikwans"), who deliberately violate treaties and initiate hostilities with the hard-pressed red men. At the same time, the feared "white scabs plague" (smallpox) decimates the Lone Eaters communities, and they realize that their days are numbered. There is much to savor in this remarkable book: the ease with which Fools Crow and his brethren converse with animals and spirits, the importance of dreams in their daily lives, the customs and ceremonies that measure the natural seasons and a person's lifespan. Without violating the patterns of Native American speech, Welsh writes in prose that surges and sings. This bittersweet story is an outstanding work. Illustrated. 25,000 first printing; major ad/promo.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A portentous dream seems to overshadow the Lone Eaters clan of the Blackfeet Indians in the post-Civil War years. The slow invasion of the Napikwans, or whites, is inevitable and coincidental, however. As we follow White Man's Dog (later renamed Fools Crow), we see how some of his people try to follow the Napikwan ways, others rebel against them, and many ignore them. This alien force has both subtle and obvious methods of eliminating the tribal ways, and we watch individuals, families, and traditions crumbling. Welch's third novel ( Winter in the Blood, The Death of Jim Loney) is like finding a lifestyle preserved for a century and reanimated for our benefit and education. Recommended for anyone who wants to see what we have lost, and read a fine novel in the process. W. Keith McCoy, Dowdell Lib., South Amboy, N.J.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The writing style is flawless and the story is gripping.
Sanjay Bhargava
James Welch's Fools Crow does an excellent job of bringing the reader into a Native American way of life.
Bobby Weiskopf
I read this book for an Honors English class and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Brian Reyes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Sean A. Krauss on May 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
I read this book for a summer class, and was therefore under a strict time constraint. Had I read it more leisurely, I may well have dropped the book as too much work for a casual read.
I'm very, very glad I stuck with it.
At first, the book's use of Pikuni concepts to describe common objects like the sun, moon, and animals is a bit disconcerting: the extra layer of decoding can be daunting, and I'm still not sure what a couple of the animals were supposed to be (I'm from New York, and plead ignorance regarding Western wildlife). However, a third of the way into the book I found myself hooked, and found that language decision to have been an effective means of drawing me into the characters and situations.
Other reviews address the historical context of the book. Look at [the internet] to get an idea of the events this book will cover, with more or less detailed attention to historical accuracy.
I came at it from a perspective of empathy and entertainment. The title character is very human, and rife with embarassing little secrets that allow us to identify with his struggles. Other characters are particularly human, and demonstrate the negative effects of bottling up secrets versus the positive side of sharing them and facing one's failings.
I suppose this review doesn't make sense without having read the book, which makes it a failure as a review. Well, here are some positive aspects of the book: Visceral confrontations will make your heart pound; Conflicting perspectives of 19th-century Euro-American western expansion will make your head pound; The cruelty of individuals among both the Pikuni and the Napikwan (whites) will make your heart ache.
If you find Native American culture at all fascinating, read this book. If you don't know a whit about Native American culture, read this book. If you've been turned off to Native American culture due to your school system's inadeqate handling of their perspective, read this book.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Carl A. Schreiber on December 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
It is hard to know what to say about this book. It is centered around the story of a young Blackfoot who journeys from the name White Man's Dog to Fools Crow. (If you don't understand that, but are intrigued--definitely read this book.)

The writing is done in third person, but with a twist. It is a Native American voice that tells their story, using their words and using their paradigms to describe the world and events going on around them. I think the strength of this book is the amount of questions it leaves in its wake. How could we do this to these people? Can we make amends? Should we? Is that just the way of the world? What does the future and present hold for Native Americans? Have we, the Napikwans, wrought a world so completely devoid of sprituality and the power of dreams? Can we change that? So many questions, but the reader is left to ponder the answers.

I disagree that this book is not what high school students need to be reading! The fact that the book delves so deeply into the power of dreams (the line between real life and dreams is very thin, if not non-existent) and leaves the reader with so many questions, makes me think it should be required reading.

Who else believes so strongly in themselves and their dreams or is more open to question their reality than high school students?

No, this book is not an epic, but it is a good story about the things we lost and things we did as Americans on our way towards the 'Manifest Destiny'. I would recommend this book for those people who want to see Dances with Wolves from the other perspective.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Fitzgerald Fan VINE VOICE on February 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
When I signed up for Native American Literature, I must confess that I had a preconceived notion that the assigned literature might be drab and depressing. The only Indian lit I had read previously was Leslie Marmon Silko, and while I can appreciate talent, I simply didn't like it. But "Fools Crow" by James Welch? PHENOMENAL!!!

Once you get the hang of the language he uses, you are absolutely transported to the plains where this coming-of-age story takes place.

What's unique about Welch is that he doesn't sentimentalize the plight of the Indians. He just tells a story, and a damn good one at that.

I don't want to give away the title and where it comes from, but I can sincerely say that this great story will give the reader a sense of the turmoil that was going on with Indian/white relations and perhaps give way to a new way of thinking.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth McElroy on November 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
In 1967, bored with a steady diet of History classes, I enrolled in a Creative Writing class taught by Dick Hugo (University of Montana). There I became acquainted with a young Native American student/poet by the name of Jim Welch. He was a charming and gentle,shy soul. His poetry dwarfed the clumsy efforts of most of his classmates. Of course when he began to publish, I read each of his works as soon as I could get my hands on them. His voice is as authentic as you can find, to the point that it allows a "Napikwan" to live the life of a 19th century plains Indian. Having grown up among those same landscapes as are the settings for his novels, I can attest that he captures both the mood and the power of Blackfeet country, but in a way that we of the European descent simply do not normally see or feel. Fools crow somehow helped me see my world with the eyes of an American Indian and I believe that having experienced that I began life anew. Fools Crow is Jim Welch's masterpiece - and it should be mandatory reading. Follow up with his last novel - The Heartsong of Charging Elk. These two books should lead you to reexamine the way you view the world. We have lost James Welch, the person now - far too soon, but I believe that his work will continue to teach, and to affect, untold generations to come.
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