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Follow the Author
Yellow Hair: An Epic Tale of Endurance Kindle Edition
This is a well-researched, documented, and vividly depicted story by author Andrew Joyce that everyone needs to read to understand that what these people went through in the 19th century is still happening right now. --- MJ Magazine
I found Yellow Hair to be an immensely readable epic. The meticulous and in-depth research that went into the book--from studying the Lakota language to incorporating real people, incidents, and events--illuminates every page and conveys the powerful sense that THIS is the real history of the West.
I think this is Andrew Joyce's master piece. Not only would I give it five stars, but I would also recommend it without hesitation to readers looking for an epic story that is actually the real history. --- Writing & Coffee
About the Author
Joyce now lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts .
- ASIN : B01LXOXHBI
- Publisher : William Birch & Assoc. (September 28, 2016)
- Publication date : September 28, 2016
- Language : English
- File size : 1860 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 527 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0998119318
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #176,781 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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YELLOW HAIR represents the next stage in writing for the author. Another reviewer has compared this novel to the historical fiction of Jane Auel (her The Complete Jean M. Auel Earth's Children Series Six Book Set [Clan of the Cave Bear, Valley of the Horses, Mammoth Hunters, Plains of Passage, Shelters of Stone, and Land of Painted Caves ]), which is perhaps not an unjustified comparison.
YELLOW HAIR is basically Andrew’s desire to put into print an accounting of the U.S. government’s policy of sequestration onto reservations the Dakota Indian tribes of the country’s northern Great Plains. For those who resisted such interdiction of their traditional life style, it meant genocide.
This historical novel is composed of three interlocking pieces: a factual and somewhat dry account of the Dakota’s relations with the encroaching white Americans from 1805 to 1890, a purely fictional story of white characters existing in the time frame based on composites of individuals who actually lived, and a melding of the two to flesh out and humanize the narrative.
YELLOW HAIR begins in 1850 with a wagon train of pilgrims embarking on the Oregon Trail to America's Pacific Coast territories. The train’s guide and those on the wagons who are named are (according to the author in a private communication to me) composites of those who actually made such a journey. And the hardships experienced by the train are also based on an aggregate reality. It’s in this first part of the novel that we’re introduced to the story’s hero, Jacob Ariesen of Concord Massachusetts, the eldest of three children and only son of his parents. The circumstances of the journey west have him ultimately adopted by a Dakota tribe, at which point he enters the main theme of the narrative.
It might be interesting to learn Joyce’s reason why he chose the oppression of the Dakota tribes as opposed to that of, say, the Seminoles or Apaches. All three are famous examples of the U.S. government’s deplorable treatment of the indigenous inhabitants.
My only minor quibble is that YELLOW HAIR once again furthers the concept of the “noble savage," i.e. noble compared to the larger white tribe that conquered him. Please. In the history of Mankind that is but a succession of tribal conquests and displacements, one over another, victors and vanquished are all of the same species and share common traits, noble and ignoble, expressed as circumstances dictate.
I also regretted that Andrew’s treatment of George Custer’s defeat at the Little Bighorn was so superficial. However, anything more substantial was admittedly and quite rightly beyond the scope of this novel. Here, I must recommend the masterful A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn - the Last Great Battle of the American West .
YELLOW HAIR is both absorbing and instructive.
I have read other books by Joyce and I would say this is the best one yet. Believable characters, engaging storytelling, and a desire to keep reading/learning. I was sad when this book ended.
Not just a coming of age story, but so much more. Yellow Hair suffers loss after loss, but also love. He navigates both the white man's world and the Indian's world.
I highly recommend this book, especially if you enjoy historical fiction.
It is Spring of 1850 in North America. Imagine you are a member of a wagon train of one hundred and forty-four White people going West in search of a better life. You encounter overwhelming hardship and are rescued by Indians. You are treated well and with respect.
Now imagine you are a Plains Indian. Soldiers invade your land at the behest of their government. They do not ask your permission. They do not treat you with respect. They look upon your people as savages and presume all you hold dear is theirs for the taking. They force you to sign their treaties, by which they trick you into selling acre after acre of your land in exchange for gold. You tell them you have no use of the yellow metal, but they deceive you into trusting you can use it to barter for horses, tools, food, and other necessities. They employ deception time and again when their Congress rewrites the treaties – without your knowledge or consent – and drastically cuts the agreed-to purchase price. They literally steal your land, upon which soldiers build forts and settlers build houses. The Wasichus (Whites) trap and hunt indigenous wildlife into near extinction, forcing you to become dependent on the American government for your very existence. You once were proud, fierce, and free. You now are demoralized, displaced, and angry.
In this sober and eye-opening tale, Joyce strips away the facade of righteousness brandished by White military and political figures, people whose names appear dominant in American history. He lays bare the greed and fear that fueled their ignorant beliefs and heinous deeds, not the least of which was the bloody slaughter and mutilation of women, children, and old ones.
Noted Native American figures, presented as one-dimensional savage people in White history books, become fully developed animated characters under the pen of Andrew Joyce. They jump off the page, grab and captivate the reader. Among these are Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, who pull us into their world and show us first-hand the effects of severe hardship coupled with dehumanization.
This was the perfect book to read while traveling across the United States by train and following the Colorado River for 230-plus miles. I imagined covered wagons caught in deadly currents that drowned all life forms as they carried them downriver. I imagined the battle at Wounded Knee Creek. I imagined the Battle of the Little Bighorn fought on the banks of the river that lent its name to this historical event. But most of all, as the train moved through mountain gorges and territories not traversed by automobile or person, I imagined a time when life was lived by the seasons, close to Mother Earth. My heart broke as distant memories of such a life played across my mind like a slide show.
This book is a page-turner that kept me glued from beginning to end. It is very well-written and chock-full of engaging characters, be they honorable or deplorable. I appreciated the humor Joyce attributed to the Indians, which he sprinkled throughout the novel. This added an inherent humanizing dimension to the indigenous peoples of whom Americans learn so little in school.
I also appreciated that the author intermittently but consistently focused on Native American spiritual beliefs. My favorite line was: “It is a good day to die.” In what way is that spiritual? you ask. Well... You’ll just have to read the book and figure it out for yourself. Hoka hey!
Top reviews from other countries
Similarly, Andrew Joyce takes on a monumental task, as he tells about the forces that dealt death to settlers, native peoples, and government forces. And he pulls no punches, from describing the diseases introduced by early European arrivals (plagues which reduced North American population by as much as 90-percent), to the differences in cultures, to the profound conviction that white men held a fundamentally god-given superiority that justified every deceit and depredation.
Ostensibly, Yellow Hair is the story of Jacob Ariesen, whose father makes the decision to join a westward bound wagon train in 1850. Although friends warn them of the dangers from “savages”, the forces which decimate the train are the harsh realities of a natural world. The former shopkeepers, servants, and city dwellers face a grim realization that they must maintain a grueling pace across the plains in a race where failure to make it through the mountains means freezing to death at the end—if the dust, thirst, accidents, drowning, and most deadly of all, cholera haven’t killed them first.
Yellow Hair follows Jacob’s life from boyhood, to the loss of his family, his rescue and adoption by the Dakotah who named him Yellow Hair. As time goes on, Yellow Hair is buffeted by the political forces, hatred, and history of the times, becoming both a witness and a victim.
One of the things I most enjoyed about Yellow Hair was watching how Andrew Joyce clicks through the tired old list of Indian tropes and methodically subverts them. For example:
* Indian Princess saves the hero: except the princess is actually a warrior who had a vision of the young white man she would first save and then teach.
* Coolest Names Ever: except poor Jacob gets handed the truth-in-advertising “Yellow Hair” and told he has to keep it even when the other kids are trading their childish names for cool monikers like Bear Claw and Crazy Horse.
* Tipi, tomahawk, and totem pole: except Plains tribes didn’t carve totem poles, while totem-carving Northwest tribes lived in lodges. But in his wanderings, Jacob/Yellow Hair lives in both, after starting his life in his family’s peculiar semi-underground dwelling.
For most books I review, the first thing I consider is character development. But that’s virtually irrelevant here. Jacob/Yellow Hair’s role is never meant to be a study of one man’s nature and character. The scale here is epic, and thus the ‘characters’ which develop, grow, and change are actually the political, social, and economic forces that motivate and are used as justification for the bloodshed, cruelty, and inhumanity. Ultimately, Yellow Hair is a mirror. “This,” it tells us. “This is what we did. Despite what your history books told you, this is who we are.”
There are a few things I didn’t understand or appreciate in Yellow Hair. For example, all of the tense, time, and POV changes in the inserted backstories of the seven families accompanying the Ariesen’s ill-fated wagon train were interesting and gave a broader outline of the myriad reasons that brought people to such an extreme step. But I still felt they interrupted the story, and might have been better placed at the beginning.
Another thing which I’m sure had an important point to make but I just found annoying was that Jacob’s parents were never referred to by their first names until the last time each was mentioned. Even though I found the constant ‘Mister’ and ‘Missus’ off-putting, I have a feeling that this was deliberate, especially as it resonated against an overall theme of fathers and sons. Jacob lost his father to a stupid accident, but at each step along the way he acquires new father figures until he’s ready to step into that role himself—only to have it become a reverse process of losing his ‘sons’. I couldn’t quite connect it, but perhaps this is meant to resonate with the image of the US Government as the ‘Great Father’ who cheats and murders his Indian ‘children’, and to contrast with the ‘Grandmother’ image of the Queen of England and her government’s treatment of native peoples (at least as applied in Canada).
Overall, I found Yellow Hair to be an immensely readable epic. It was like reading about the Titanic—a fascinating, compelling, study of people for readers who already know about the inevitable disaster looming. The meticulous and in-depth research that went into the book—from studying the Lakota language to incorporating real people, incidents, and events—illuminates every page and conveys the powerful sense that THIS is the real history of the West.
Make no mistake—Yellow Hair is a long, often brutal tale filled with heartbreak, tragedy, and lots of buffalo chips. But despite the flaws I might see, I think this is Andrew Joyce’s masterpiece. Not only would I give it five stars, but I would also recommend it without hesitation to readers looking for an epic story that is actually the real history.
**I received this book for free from the publisher or author to facilitate an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
First to say - this is a wonderful book! A story about a man who was living such an adventurous life. Love, loss, hatred, fighting, surviving - actually more than you think a soul can take. At times it's hard to read on because of what is happening in the story. With brutal fights as well as useless killings of Indian bands it relates to some of the cruelest massacres against the Indians. Many famous people become part of the story, from Crazy Horse to Sitting Bull and even General Custer. It starts with some pioneers that wanted to make a better life by going west on a wagon train and ends up at the final massacre at Wounded Knee. You learn about the Dakota language as well as about their life and traditions and language. And their long sad way to surrender to the whites. If you're interested in history, read the book. What I love and highly appreciate is that the story is embedded in a long term of American history of the 19th century, regarding the life of the native American Indians. What I already noticed from previous books of the author, he again has done great research to tell the story within all these historical events and historical people.
I can highly recommend the book and hope that there will be a German edition soon.