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The Red Heart Mass Market Paperback – September 28, 1998

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (September 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345364716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345364715
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A spellbinding journey into America's past." -- Sharyn McCrumb"

"COMPELLING . . . Thom has woven a story as carefully as any native weaver does a piece of fabric." -- Indianapolis Star

From the Inside Flap

The Slocum family of Northeastern Pennsylvania are the best of the white settlers, peace-loving Quakers who believe that the Indians hold the Light of God inside. It is from this good-hearted family that Frances is abducted during the Revolutionary war.

As the child's terror subsides, she is slowly drawn into the sacred work and beliefs of her adoptive mother and of all the women of these Eastern tribes. Frances becomes Maconakwa, the Little Bear Woman of the Miami Indians. Then, long after the Indians are beaten and their last hope, Tecumseh, is killed, the Slocums hear word of their long-lost daughter and head out to Indiana to meet their beloved Frances. But for Maconakwa, it is a moment of truth, the test of whether her heart is truly a red one.

More About the Author

James Alexander Thom is the author of Follow the River, Long Knife, From Sea to Shining Sea, Panther in the Sky (for which he won the prestigious Western Writers of America Spur Award for best historical novel), Sign-Talker, The Children of First Man, and The Red Heart.

Customer Reviews

This is one of the best books I have read, and one I will read over a number of times.
Gerald L. Johnson
The author has done a great job of weaving history into a compelling story that we should all know about.
Lindsey Bray
It is also the story of the relentless American westward movement and how the Indians dealt with it.
DWD's Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 11, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I finished this 533 page novel in four days, and I read from page 264 to the ending in one sitting. I think that pretty much sums it up that I really, really enjoyed reading this book. It is on such a fascinating subject which is not too often found in adult literature. Most historical fiction novels on white children taken captive by the Indians are written for juvenile or young adult readers.
This novel is based on the true story of Frances Slocum who at age 5 was carried off by Delaware Indians right in front of her family in 1778. Her family searched for nearly sixty years until they finally found her- the widow of a Miami chief who could not speak any English or even remember her given name except for Slocum. Thom details what occured in the sixty years before that reunion. Mostly, it is a story of young Frances adapting to her new life, her growth into womanhood, and her experiences with the tragedies that occur to her Indian people as the Americans take their lands and destroy the entire fabric of their lives. Thom also details the Slocums' attempts to find their lost child during that same period. Thom does a great job of capturing what must have been the emotions when that lost sister met her Slocum siblings for the first time in six decades. Truly poignant.
My only complaint about this book is Thom's rather simplistic portrayals of the Indians and whites. With the exception of the Quaker Slocum family, every white in this book is a brutish lout; and with the exception of a couple drunken brutes, the Indians are all portrayed as wonderful people. The historical reality was a little more complex, and even most children's books on the subject of Indian captivities present a more even-handed picture.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed reading this novel. It not only inspired me to read other books by James Alexander Thom, but also made me want to find out more about Frances Slocum. It was in doing this research that I discovered that Thom had played a little loose with the facts of Slocum's abduction. I believe he did this simply to place her Indian abductors in a better light. Yes, it was a little disconcerting; but this discovery did not ruin my overall enjoyment of the book.
The novel attempts to view the history of Old Northwest from a very pro-Native perspective. Thom wants the reader to be fully aware that what happened to the Indians of the Old Northwest was a tragedy and a blot on the history of the U.S. And I think he is absolutely correct in that viewpoint. However, I felt that occassionally he went a little overboard in attempting to illustrate this point. His portrayal of the differences between whites and Indians sometimes came across as simplistic and condenscending. It can be annoying since I've read children's books on the subject of Indian captivities that presented a more even handed and realistic look at racial relations- Sally Keehn's "I Am Regina" is an excellent example that shows that cruelty could be found on both sides.
However, "The Red Heart's" political correctness is a quibble that really does not deter from its effectiveness as a terrific novel. It's really well-written, and is about one of the most poignant and fascinating stories in American history. If you love historical fiction set in early America and have enjoyed James Alexander Thom's work then you will surely enjoy this book.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By DWD's Reviews VINE VOICE on August 22, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is one great book.

It is based on the true story of Francis Slocum, a 4 year old Quaker girl who was kidnapped by Delaware Indians in the 1770s on the Pennsylvania frontier near Wilkes-Barre. (There are recreation areas named for her in both Pennsylvania and Indiana)

It is also the story of her family's 60 year search for her across the Midwest and even into Canada.

It is also the story of the relentless American westward movement and how the Indians dealt with it.

The reader also gets a fantastic lesson on daily life among the Delaware and Miami Indians.

If you're a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan you'll remember the epidsode in which Picard is "attacked" by the alien probe from the long-dead world that makes him live an entire lifetime among their people in his mind in just a few seconds so that their way of life will never be forgotten. (It's the one where he learns to play the little flute-type instrument). Well, this book reminds me of that - you are drawn into this woman's life and initiated into Indian culture as she is. you learn along with her. You grow up with her, feel her disappointments and joys and her confusions as she learns that her white family is searching for her (should she seek them? should she run? Would it be best to take advantage of her white skin and abandon her Indian family as the times get harder and harder?)

I have a few quibbles with the book but those are dwarfed by Thom's overall accomplishment. Honestly, at the end of the book, when Francis Slocum dies, I felt as though a longtime friend who'd lived a wonderful and fulfilling life had died - and that is the greatest compliment I think I can give it.

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