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123 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Book!!!(...)
This is a marvelously well researched book. In respsonse to some of the bad reviews I have read I have to say that yes, Matthiessen does not try to hide the fact that he sides with the Indians. Yes the book is biased in the favor of the Indians. So what. When you examine the FBI and the US Government's history of maltreatment of all minorities, especially native...
Published on March 16, 2003 by Angela Olive

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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little too jumbled
While I appreciate the authors attempt to present all the facts, I found most of the book very complicated and difficult to follow. Detailing all of the arrests, trials, convictions, allegations,etc regarding all the major players( and some of the minor ones) in the movement at the time, while it served to present the climate in which Leonard's conviction took...
Published on August 24, 1998


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123 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Book!!!(...), March 16, 2003
By 
Angela Olive (TURLOCK, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (Paperback)
This is a marvelously well researched book. In respsonse to some of the bad reviews I have read I have to say that yes, Matthiessen does not try to hide the fact that he sides with the Indians. Yes the book is biased in the favor of the Indians. So what. When you examine the FBI and the US Government's history of maltreatment of all minorities, especially native peoples, why should an author feel obligated to paint the establishment in a flattering light. He is simply exposing the ugly truth of the dark underbelly of our "democracy".
This is hard for some people to handle, thus the poor reviews. Ask yourself this, in the midst of phenomenal violence why does the FBI never investigate dozens of unsolved murders, instead devoting lots of man-hours to tracking down Jimmy Eagle for the theft of a pair of cowboy boots???You be the judge.
This is an amazing read. Thankfully, the FBI, Special Agent David Price and Governor William Janklow all lost in thier legal attempts to keep this information from us. So celebrate freedom of press and curl up with this book!!! Freedom for Leonard
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87 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shock & Awe In America, October 11, 2003
By 
Bruce H. Ulanet (Baltimore, Maryland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (Paperback)
This book picks up where "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" left off, and unfortunately for Indian people the story does't get any happier. This book should be required reading for every high school student, journalist, politician or law enforcement professional. It shows us that despite the fine and uplifting words of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence that support our democracy, human dignity and civil rights always need to be fought for and protected by people. Unfortunately for all of us, sometimes innocent people lose the battle, and this is a story about some of them. Please read this book, you will not be sorry you did.
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53 of 65 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meticulous Research, November 27, 2002
By 
D. MILLS (Manassas, VA United States) - See all my reviews
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This book was meticulously researched. The author reviewed thousands of pages of documents, conducted dozens of interviews and visited dozens of sites. He reviewed evidence presented by both sides: the FBI and the Indians. He considered the opinions of people on both sides.
However, it's not just a research book. The book is peppered with the author's own opinions and speculations as well as the opinions and speculations of other people interviewed. He retells the story several times through the eyes of the different witnesses. Some of the witnesses actually change their accounts more than once. In the end, the killer himself (whoever that may be) is probably the only living person who knows what really happened.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Iron Horsing Continues, June 9, 2008
This review is from: In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (Paperback)
Those interested in the history of Native Americans will know that relatively few books cover the travails and challenges faced by Indians in the present day. This classic by Matthiessen is one of the best investigations in recent memory of how Indians still face a variety of hardships and harassment caused both by modern social problems and the legacy of their cultural annihilation. Matthiessen's topic here is the brief notoriety of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the early-to-mid 1970s, culminating in the much-discussed case against Leonard Peltier for the murder of two government agents.

Here Matthiessen covers not just the story of Peltier and AIM, but also the historical influences that culminated in the bloody 1975 confrontation in South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation. Matthiessen did an immense amount of research and delivered a highly compelling account of Peltier and the shootout, revealing that the situation was far more complex than is commonly believed (or reported in the mainstream press). The reader will find that Matthiessen does not necessarily find solid proof of Peltier's innocence. However, there is overwhelming evidence that Peltier definitely did not receive a fair trial, and a litany of Constitutional violations was committed by the illegitimate tribal government and its goons (the main source of animosity with AIM), federal agents, state and federal politicians, judges and lawyers, and prison officials.

The complex relationships among these parties, the unhappy history of the Pine Ridge Indians, and modern social problems were all at play in a situation far more complex than a simple shootout between an Indian militant and some agents. Government watchdogs will also be sickeningly familiar with the propaganda and misinformation exercised by the feds as Peltier was railroaded into prison, especially in view of the government's weak case against him. At the very least, Peltier's sentence was excessive and several government employees got off the hook for the horrors of that fateful day in 1975. And in the end, this powerful book proves that the railroading of Indians who resist the advance of American hegemony did not come to an end back in the 1800s. [~doomsdayer520~]
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39 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, thought-provoking, action-inspiring book, July 9, 2001
This review is from: In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (Paperback)
This is an excellent book. Peter Matthiessen covers all the bases. His depth of coverage is astounding. Everytime I had a question about a person or event, they were answered somewhere in the book. It is an amazing telling of what are truly frightening events in our history. It creates a desire to learn more and more, not just about what happened to the Lakota people, but about our government. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone! The fact that it took so long to be published speaks volumes about the content.
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An infuriating portrait of injustice, September 18, 2006
By 
David Alston (Chapel Hill, NC, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (Paperback)
I'm often deeply suspicious of writing as political as one finds in this book - I greatly admire Matthiessen's writings on travel, nature and Buddhism, but found his novel "At Play In The Fields Of The Lord" a bit ham-fisted in its' approach, even when I agreed with it's sentiments.

But after a few reads, several years apart, IN THE SPIRIT OF CRAZY HORSE stands as a great, damning document - it's a piece of work that is impressive and massive, and will leave you infuriated.

The entire work is built around the trial and conviction of Leonard Peltier, and rather than simply recount the events or press an agenda, Matthiessen goes to meticulous lengths to contextualize and cover every side of the background. The history of the Sioux Lakota is covered extensively, as are the social conditions (health, income, education, and the infamous violence) on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The AIM (American Indian Movement) emerges on Pine Ridge, and it should be noted that the reservation is officially two counties - Shannon and Jackson, which were administered from elsewhere in the state, and run by Bureau of Indian Affairs appointees, instead of by an elected government (the case in most US counties). These appointees' extreme and unorthodox tactics in administering the reservation dovetailed nicely with FBI surveillance and subversion of suspected subversive groups, including AIM, and the paranoia generated set the stage for the firefight and subsequent trial.

Matthiessen expends considerable effort in the attempt at giving both sides a space to speak, not extremely successfully from an objectivity standpoint, but well enough for the purposes of this book: Matthiessen also unearths and publishes a vast array of court transcripts and legal documents; a certain point of view does begin to emerge, and Matthiessen admits where his sympathies lie, but generally, this is a book in which the FBI and various individuals within the government of South Dakota hang themselves with their own words. And they do this consistently, over hundreds of pages, and when afforded many opportunities by Matthiessen to justify or clarify themselves, they fail to do so repeatedly.

Such Machiavellian governmental machinations were an unfortunate part of the political landscape during the Nixon era (this has not necessarily changed with the passage of time); this is one of the most devastating documents of that ruthlessness (see William Shawcross' SIDESHOW for a second, scary glimpse at this political tendency), and Matthiessen - through meticulous investigation and research - goes out of his way to be fair. Give this dense and - at times - difficult book some patience; the history lessons and legalese do have both a point and a payoff - this is a far more infuriating document of injustice than any simple agenda-based hatchet job could ever be.

-David Alston
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27 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FREE LEONARD PELTIER - or at least give him a new trial, February 4, 2006
This review is from: In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (Paperback)
Why?

Well, you have to read this book, but here's a synopsis that nobody but the most diehard 1970s FBI defender can try to deny.

Matthiessen documents years of FBI spying on the American Indian Movement, including "turning" insiders, coupled with intimidation tactics and more. Often the FBI in South Dakota was working, if not hand in hand, at least on parallel tracks in this thuggery with folks such as a corrupt Pine Ridge Indian Reservation leadership, then-Attorney General and now disgraced former Congressman Bill Janklow, BIA cops and more.

While Matthiesen looks at bits and pieces of AIM's history elsewhere, he focuses on Pine Ridge and its Sioux, as this area, through things such as a temporary takeover of Mount Rushmore, was a center of AIM activity.

In trials related to the events in and around Pine Ridge, FBI agents repeatedly intimidated witnesses into changing testimony, coached witnesses, sprung last-minute surprise witnesses at trials (which is against the law, if you didn't know), suborned perjury and otherwise made a mockery of justice.

Things reached a climax June 26, 1975 when two FBI agents approached the Jumping Bull property on the Pine Ridge Reservation, ostensibly looking for Jimmy Eagle on a weapons charge. According to all Indian accounts, the two agents began opening fire on the property.

Both were eventually shot in a return of fire. They were later killed at close range.

After three other AIM leaders at the site were all acquitted of murder charges in the FBI agents' deaths, the FBI appeared determined to hang the case on Peltier by any legal or illegal means possible.

Aided by a viciously biased judge giving one-sided bench rulings, the government did exactly that.

Read how things reached this point, what AIM's grievances were, how the FBI infiltrated them, and more.

But, above all, read the story of Leonard Peltier both before and after his conviction.

Is Leonard Peltier a political prisoner? Read this book and decide for yourself.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A DETAILED Account of "The Incident At Ogalala", March 28, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (Paperback)
During the American Civil Rights Movement there is an area that most of the country refuses to study or examine; the struggle for civil rights among and for the native peoples. In that movement there was an organization called AIM (American Indian Movement), I guess you'd call them the Black Panthers of our movement. They did some things that I do not agree with, but their motives can't be argued with. The United States Government did some very wrong things to these civil rights activists and one of them, Leonard Peltier, is still in prison. This is a DETAILED account of the incident he is imprisoned over. I may not agree with everything this man did; but hey, looking back at my own life I don't agree with everything that I've done. That doesn't meen he did what the FBI has accused him of. And this book is the proof that he didn't.
If you are a student of the American Civil Rights Movement or of Native History, or even of the History of the F.B.I., you should have this case study as a reference.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little too jumbled, August 24, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (Paperback)
While I appreciate the authors attempt to present all the facts, I found most of the book very complicated and difficult to follow. Detailing all of the arrests, trials, convictions, allegations,etc regarding all the major players( and some of the minor ones) in the movement at the time, while it served to present the climate in which Leonard's conviction took place, left me unable to form any opinion of guilt or innocence. It was not until the final 3 or 4 chapters that the whole thing made any sense . Still it is worth reading as it is the only book that I know of on a subject, unfortunately ignored by an American Public who had become somewhat jaded about protest movements and reports of wrong-doing by government agencies once the '60's had ended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book critical to a proper understanding of the US today, May 31, 2014
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This review is from: In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (Paperback)
This book spoke to me, personally, in a number of ways; as a man seeking to learn more of his ancestors indigenous to this continent and as one who, like the men and women of the American Indian Movement, challenged the US government during the 1970s.

Like what happened to the award-winning documentary of Vietnam Veterans Against theWar’s Winter Soldier Investigations in 1971, the FBI and others sought to suppress this book at the time of its initial publication, a few years after the main events of the story. Like the effort against VVAW, the book was successfully suppressed through a series of lawsuits and appeals during the period during which it was most important to be available. Those suits were ultimately all dismissed and in 1992 the book was finally available again.

The suppression of that book and the VVAW documentary is but one of the authoritarian actions of many that stem from the FBI-led efforts, using its COINTELPRO capabilities, to discredit, smear and suppress the efforts of both organizations in opposition to repugnant behavior by the US government. The Black Panthers were likewise a target of those same programmatic and largely unconstitutional law enforcement and prosecutorial campaigns.

This book is not for everyone. Although very well written (researched and documented, as well) by an author of considerable reputation and experience,, the story is very complex and lengthy. Peter Matthiessen allows the story to unfold with events as they transpired and so the ground shifts frequently through the telling to its final conclusion. It is also potentially unsettling for some. The exposure of the conduct of the government will be hard for some to accept. Having been among the targets of similar activities as a VVAW leader, they were all too familiar to me.

The man who brought the book to my attention (I am embarrassed not to have been aware of it long ago) is a friend of 50 years. He is now a practicing attorney. In the summer of 1975 as a law student at the end of his 2nd year he joined the Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee that was the organization providing legal services to AIM. That he recommends the book speaks to its authenticity; at least for me.

The account is composed of three sections Peter labels “books.” The first provides critical historical and cultural context for the story. It covers the history of the Northern Plains nations from the second half of the 19th century up to 1971 and the emergence of AIM. As one who has sought to learn the ways and culture of my indigenous ancestors, I learned a very great deal about those subjects from what Peter provides in this section, as continued to be the case throughout the other two “books.” I think those who have a desire and openness to learning about those topics will benefit as I did. In order to understand the rise of AIM and related sovereignty and fair treatment movements among Indian nations, that background is critical.

The second “book” details the events leading up to, during and subsequent to the deaths on the Pine Ridge Lakota (Sioux, as white society refers to those people) reservation on June 26th, 1975 that resulted from a fierce fire fight between AIM warriors and FBI agents, BIA police, as well as county and state law enforcement. It is during this detailed account that Peter conveys the warrior tradition of integrity and courage in defense of the Lakota people and their way of life many Indians were seeking to reclaim. This is a theme that continues throughout the remainder of the book and is the best exposition of what a true warrior and warrior society is.

The third “book” documents the FBI investigations, numerous arrests and charges, the final apprehension of the three AIM leaders pre-selected as the ones who killed the two agents and the series of trials that followed. The outcome of the first trial, the one involving two of the defendants, was positive for the Lakota. The second trial was not and the book follows the incarceration of that defendant.

A final caveat. Peter Matthiessen is openly sympathetic to AIM and the peoples it represents. His is not a goo-goo-eyed rendering of modern noble savages. He is very candid about the problems of drug and alcohol abuse and crime that plague the people on reservations and the urban Indians, as well. He is also frank about the failings of AIM and its leaders. The pettiness and infighting so common to “movement" organizations is also discussed bluntly. Since he is sympathetic to the movement he is quite blunt in his criticism of the government agencies and agents, prosecutors and judges. However, those key figures on the government payroll are given opportunity, in fact urged, to let him tell their version of a wide range of events in the story and to convey their points of view. Some take him up and they are, indeed, represented fairly and without editorial denigration.

If you think this book would be of interest and that you could learn things from it that you want to know, by all means, please do read it. While it is a historical account, it is may be even more important in light of the events and conditions today.
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In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen (Paperback - January 1, 1992)
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