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The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend Paperback – September 2, 2014
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From Publishers Weekly
For all of our culture&'s fascination with the American Indian, it&'s almost impossible to believe that one of the most well-known Indians of his time, the Oglala Sioux warrior chief Red Cloud, could be largely forgotten until now. Yet that&'s exactly what we discover in this illuminating account by Drury and Clavin (Halsey&'s Typhoon). As the de facto leader of the Western Sioux nation—an unprecedented feat in itself given the Sioux&'s rigorous individualism and a culture consisted of fluid, haphazard tribal groups—Red Cloud and his army stand alone in history as the only Indians to ever defeat the United States in a war, which took all of two years (1866–1868). A history inconveniently at odds with the accepted American narrative, the manuscript for Red Cloud&'s 1893 autobiography lay in a drawer at the Nebraska State Historical Society into the 1990s. Thanks to that work and the authors&' extensive, additional scholarship, readers now have access to a much more thorough, comprehensive understanding of the Plains Indians&' brutal and tragically futile efforts to protect their land and way of living from the progress of civilization. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel-Weber Associates. (Nov.) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“A ripping yarn . . . A quintessentially Western tale of bold exploits, tough characters, brutal conditions and a lost way of life, this sounds like the sort of story that practically tells itself. Yet you only realize how little justice most popular histories do to their source material when you come across a book, like this one, that does everything right. It’s customary to say of certain nonfiction books — gussied up with plenty of 'color' and psychological speculation — that they 'read like a novel,' but truth be told, most of the time we’d have to be talking about a pretty mediocre novel. The Heart of Everything That Is, on the other hand, resembles the good ones. There were times, turning its pages, when I could almost smell the pines of the Black Hills, feel the icy wind tearing down from Canada across the prairie and hear the hooves of the buffalo pounding the earth.” (Laura Miller Salon)
“Exquisitely told . . . Remarkably detailed . . . The story of Red Cloud's unusual guile and strategic genius makes the better-known Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse pale in comparison. . . . This is no knee-jerk history about how the West was won, or how the West was lost. This historical chronicle is unabashed, unbiased and disturbingly honest, leaving no razor-sharp arrowhead unturned, no rifle trigger unpulled. . . . A compelling and fiery narrative.” (USA Today)
“Vivid . . . Lively . . . A tale of lies, trickery, and brutal slaughter . . . In telling the story of Red Cloud, Messrs. Drury and Clavin appropriately bring a number of the larger-than-life figures from that time onstage . . . [and] chronicle in considerable detail the shameful treatment of the Indians across the plains and the destruction of their ancient way of life.” (Christopher Corbett, The Wall Street Journal)
“A page turner . . . Drawing on archives, letters, and a long-lost autobiography written toward the end of Red Cloud’s life, the narrative has a remarkable immediacy . . . [and] the narrative sweep of a great Western.” (Kate Tuttle, The Boston Globe)
“Valuable . . . Meticulous . . . [A] remarkable story . . . The writers don’t shy away from the atrocities on both sides of the gruesome, long-running conflict between the Indians and the U.S. forces. But when, for the umpteenth time, U.S. officials break a contract as soon as the glint of gold is spotted in the hills, one cannot help but feel that there’s all the more reason to celebrate one of the Sioux’s most impressive fighters.” (Smithsonian)
“The authors paint a full and vivid picture of the Oglala Sioux leader . . . The story of Red Cloud is presented here with all the tension and excitement of a good Western novel. . . . The narrative is gripping but not sentimental, and it is well-sourced, drawing, for example, on Red Cloud’s autobiography, lost for nearly a century, and the papers of many others who knew Red Cloud’s War.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“Astounding . . . A tour de force of historical storytelling . . . The Heart of Everything That Is is grand in scope and beautifully observed. . . . Together, [Drury and Clavin] have managed a feat of scholarship that interweaves ethnological brilliance and an insightful reinterpretation of Indian culture from the point of view of the Sioux.” (The Wichita Eagle)
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Top Customer Reviews
Also, the level of detail given about every character and event is definitely satisfying. It doesn't reach the same depth as DW Donald's "Lincoln", but it is more akin to Hillebrand's "Unbroken". At least for me, the are no big questions that are left unanswered with a decent amount of evidence. For further info on this, the reader can skip to the end and read "Notes and Bibliography" which discusses some of the imperfect sources, such as the Red Cloud autobiography, and how they came to light.
Lastly, and probably most important, I found this book to be a very balanced take. It doesn't gloss over details on either side, but doesn't put conclusions in your face about how bad or good or heroic some person or thing was. The book leaves to you to decide those things, which I greatly appreciate. For example, none of the details of what the Sioux did to their prisoners or even their own women are left out, but they are presented in a fair light; and at the same time the book gives very clear picture of how idiotic and brutal the US Military was without simply saying "Sand Creek was an example of how depraved the US Military had become". Speaking of Sand Creek, I learned more essential information about that massacre in this book than I did from "Bury My Heart", although the latter provides more of the heart wrenching details. It was interesting to see how Sand Creek fit in with the bigger picture of Red Cloud's War.
Overall I came away from this book realizing that neither side of the conflict was free from the stains of innocent blood, as contrasted to "Bury My Heart" which really focuses largely on the atrocities of the US Military and doesn't leave you feeling anything besides anger towards that party (obviously different book, not saying it takes the wrong stance, I highly recommend that one as well). But fair warning, this is not a G-rated book, there are very gruesome descriptions (such as what happened on Lodge Trail Ridge, or what certain US soldiers did to women's corpses, and so on). I wouldn't want my 11 year old son reading some of this stuff.
There were several variations of the Sioux tribes and the authors go into detail regarding the time preceding Red Cloud with Old Man Afraid of His Horses as the leader of the Oglala Sioux tribe. We also get a portrait of Jim Bridger, known as Old Gabe, and the authors wonder why more hasn't been written about this influential man in western history. Pretty Owl and Pine Leaf were loves of Red Cloud and the tragic death of Pine Leaf by her own hand is dealt with.
The controversial building of forts along the hated Bozeman Trail through Wyoming and into Montana provides the reader with additional information regarding the building of Fort Phil Kearny which led to the infamous Fetterman Fight on December 21, 1866, in which William Judd Fetterman lost his life along with eighty others. Who was to blame for this fiasco? Was it Fetterman himself or the ill-suited commander of the fort Henry Carrington? Of what role in the defeat, if any, did Tenedore Ten Eyck play? Did his delay in going to Fetterman's defense doom Fetterman and his men or would his support have just added to the victims?
I learned that it was American Horse who killed Fetterman and John "Portugee" Phillips had two others who sent out word of the disaster at Fort Phil Kearny with Phillips being the only one who traveled all the way to Fort Laramie to bring word on the day after Christmas. Also, Jim Bridger thought the location that Henry Carrington chose to build Fort Phil Kearny was a poor choice but Carrington's opinion prevailed. In addition to those already mentioned this book contains several other interesting characters such as Nelson Story who became the inspiration for the novel Lonesome Dove, George and Francis Grummond and Margaret Carrington, Crazy Horse, Spotted Tail, John Bozeman and John Jacobs both of whom started the Bozeman Trail, and many others.
Chief Red Cloud was able to bring victory over the United States army with The Treaty of 1868 which brought about the closing of the Bozeman Trail and the forts (Reno, Phil Kearny, and C. F. Smith) that were located on it. The forts were destroyed and the United States had other more pressing matters on its hands such as the rebuilding of the South following the Civil War and the completion of the Union Pacific railroad.
Chief Red Cloud died at the age of eighty-eight in 1909 and is buried on the grounds of the Red Cloud school that presently educates children on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Even if you have read the other books on this aspect of Sioux Indian history this biography on Chief Red Cloud is a masterpiece to add to your library.