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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A soldier telling it like it was., November 15, 2000
By 
Bear Johnson (Potlatch, Idaho) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: General George Crook: His Autobiography (Paperback)
General Crook minces no words in his autobiography, a book that gives you real insight into one of the nation's most renowned Indian fighters. A quiet man in real life and somewhat of an enigma to those around him, he had a unique understanding and appreciation for Native Americans and the injustices heaped upon them. In later life, he attempted to use his influence to help better their conditions. Crook never took his biography to a publisher -- that only happened long after he was dead. If anything, his narrative leaves you wanting more detail and less modesty about the role he played in history. The editor has done an admirable job in filling in the missing pieces. An important book for anybody interested in the people who built the West, or in influential military leaders in American history. I enjoyed this book immensely.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greats!, April 1, 2011
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This review is from: General George Crook: His Autobiography (Paperback)
I consider this book to be very important, both as a U.S. historian and an Arizona citizen. General Crook matters to more to United States history than he is given credit for, because he helped "settle the West" more than almost anyone from 1852 to 1890. It is peculiar that Crook's Indian enemies (Crazy Horse, Geronimo, Chihuahua) are more famous than he is, when he ultimately won all of these campaigns. I think Crook himself explains this phenomenon better than I could when he says that it doesn't matter what you do, it matters what you get credit for doing. This general seems to get blamed for everything from Custer's Last Stand to Geronimo's warpath, yet I believe his personal memoirs make it clear that he was the most capable man for the job of frontier campaigning.

Unfortunately, the autobiography portion of this book is only 200 pages, from 1852 to 1876 in his lifetime. This covers his first assignment out of West Point in northern California, and ends with the campaign against the Sioux in Wyoming and thereabouts. Almost this entire time is spent at war with hostile Indians (and he himself is quick to point out that he is not at war with ALL Indians, as he enlisted many on his own side), with the exception of his Union volunteering in the East during the Civil War.

What is great about this book, though, is that Crook writes in a lively, opinionated fashion that does not seem censored for public appeal, since he passed on before he finished writing his memoirs. The benefit of this style is that you get to hear what it was really like having to fight so many different groups of Indians, the General's honestly dismal opinions of other U.S. Army commanders and Indian Bureau agents, and you can tell that Crook is very human by his writing so that you never lose interest in hearing what he has to say. The only other memoir of the time period that I've read to compare this book to is General Sherman's, and Sherman writes as though he only wants to state the facts for the record. Sherman ends up telling a very, very dry account of "I went here. I did this." while Crook ends up telling a story full of hopes, fears, hardships, affections, and loathings.

The General's honesty may have kept him out of ever reaching more prestigious and comfortable positions in our nation's military, but anyone that reads his autobiography can clearly see that this man deserves a great deal of respect, not only for spending nearly all of his adult life in combat service for his country, but also for telling it like it was. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Someone You Should Know, September 19, 2011
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This review is from: General George Crook: His Autobiography (Paperback)
If you are into the settlement of the American West, particularly the strife between the US Army and the Native Americans, General George Crook has to be one of the most influential officers no one has ever heard of. This work is focused on Crook's experiences on the western frontier, the Civil War and his actions back on frontier duty after the war.

The breath of George Crook's involvement astounds. He participated in and directed Indian pacification in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Northern California prior to the Civil War. During the war he fought throughout the Eastern Theater. After the battles of South Mountain and Antietam, he is transferred to the Central Theater and participates in the bloodbath that was Chickamauga. Returning East his focus is West Virginia, the Valley Campaign first under David Hunter and subsequently under Phil Sheridan. Captured by Confederate raiders he is paroled, serves under Grant at Five Forks and Appomattox where Lee surrenders. Returning west he would pacify the Apache in the Southwest, fight the Sioux at the Battle of the Rosebud and chase the Sioux back into the Black Hills. Returning to Arizona, he would reengage the Apache and cooperate with the Mexican military on Mexican soil, capturing Nana, Victorio and Geronimo.

Differences of opinion over the conduct of the Apache War resulted in his resignation as theater commander and he is transferred to the Department of the Platte. It is here, in semi retirement, he would begin to fight for Native American rights. The man who revolutionized Indian warfare from the US Army's perspective would now go on to champion the rights of the people he spent 30 years of his life fighting.

This is an amazing story well told. Crook's writing is crisp, blunt and decidedly no nonsense, providing a copious amount of historic detail. He clearly states his disapproval of the Interior Department, the graft involved and the outright theft of resources under Interior Department administration. Sour grapes? Who knows? But he is not the first one to underscore that the Indian "problem" was in the administration and had little to do with the Native Americans themselves. And he was the one to put his life on the line when ineptitude and fraud caused Indian rebellion and war.

William T. Sherman called George Crook the greatest Indian fighter the Army possessed; Sioux war chief Red Cloud stated "he never lied to us". If you are into the settlement of the American West you should be intrigued by the commentary of the people Crook served under and one of the great war chiefs he fought. At the time of his death he was one of the most steadfast friends Native Americans had. According to their reaction to his passing, they felt his loss keenly.

Well done.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Indian Era Fans, October 21, 2013
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This review is from: General George Crook: His Autobiography (Paperback)
"General George Crook, his autobiography", edited and annotated by Martin F. Schmitt

General George Crook was one of the most interesting and effective, yet most "unsung" generals in the entire 19th Century.
He was overshadowed during the Civil War by most of the more "political" or "romantic" generals and a comparatively lackluster career. He was easily the best and most effective military leader during the Indian Wars but historians have always relegated him to the back of the bus in favor of "headliners" like Custer, Chivington and Fetterman. General Crook's autobiography didn't even really come to light until the 1940s.
As this book amply illustrates, Crook was a sturdy, steady, intelligent, confident, common sense, and honorable leader. But he didn't take on just tough customers like Geronimo and Cochise and Sitting Bull. He also went toe-to-toe with corrupt Indian Bureau officials, incompetent Bureau of Interior lackeys, his bosses Phil Sheridan and President Grant and armed mobs from the Dakotas to Mexico. One of his endearing specialties was holding the government's feet to the fire over broken promises and treaties and in later life he lent his considerable influence to the early Indian Rights movements with good result.
Curiously, Crook's autobiography ends right after the rough handling he received at the "Battle of the Rosebud" (while on his way to join with Custer and Alfred Terry near the Little Bighorn).
Though the editor takes the story to the end of Crook's life in March, 1890, there neither any comment from Crook about Custer's demise nor any discussion of the subsequent investigations in which Crook surely must have had some role.
If there is a soldier to admire from the era of the Indian Wars, it would have to be Crook. But as you will see in this autobiography, that admiration will be tempered by the overall Tragedy and Pathos of "The Indian Question" in general.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, September 19, 2013
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This review is from: General George Crook: His Autobiography (Paperback)
Crook's view is critical to gaining a "on the ground" view to American Indian Wars. Highly Recomend this book for those interested in American/Indian history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Frontier General, Indian Fighter and Peacemaker, March 27, 2013
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This review is from: General George Crook: His Autobiography (Paperback)
It is aways thrilling to read a well written first hand account of historical events. General Crook is at his best when he relates his experiences in gaining significant military victories both in the Civil War and fighting Indians on the western frontier. Crook's editor does an excellent job of presenting Crook's writing and offers his opinions occasionally as to what may have motivated Crook. As a good editor should, Martin Schmitt tries to let General Crook's thinking come to the forefront rather than his own. In doing so he provides an invaluable narrative on the people and times that shaped the western frontier.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Big Blowhard!, April 10, 2014
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This review is from: General George Crook: His Autobiography (Paperback)
I just do not like Crook at all, so I am prejudiced against his bragging and complaining. The silly goose. But I did enjoy the book a lot, found much useful research in it.
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General George Crook: His Autobiography
General George Crook: His Autobiography by George Crook (Paperback - April 15, 1986)
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