Black Hills
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Black Hills

3.4 28
by Dan Simmons
     
 

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When Paha Sapa, a young Sioux warrior, "counts coup" on General George Armstrong Custer as Custer lies dying on the battlefield at the Little Bighorn, the legendary general's ghost enters him - and his voice will speak to him for the rest of his event-filled life.

Seamlessly weaving together the stories of Paha Sapa, Custer, and the American West, Dan

Overview

When Paha Sapa, a young Sioux warrior, "counts coup" on General George Armstrong Custer as Custer lies dying on the battlefield at the Little Bighorn, the legendary general's ghost enters him - and his voice will speak to him for the rest of his event-filled life.

Seamlessly weaving together the stories of Paha Sapa, Custer, and the American West, Dan Simmons depicts a tumultuous time in the history of both Native and white Americans. Haunted by Custer's ghost, and also by his ability to see into the memories and futures of legendary men like Sioux war-chief Crazy Horse, Paha Sapa's long life is driven by a dramatic vision he experienced as a boy in his people's sacred Black Hills. In August of 1936, a dynamite worker on the massive Mount Rushmore project, Paha Sapa plans to silence his ghost forever and reclaim his people's legacy-on the very day FDR comes to Mount Rushmore to dedicate the Jefferson face.

Editorial Reviews

Barbara Ehrenreich
A stolid, hardworking survivor of so many battles and massacres, Paha Sapa is himself a kind of node in history, bringing together Crazy Horse and Custer, white expansionism and red defiance, not to mention astronomy and native mythology, as well as reverberations from the incipient European Holocaust. So what does Simmons need the supernatural for? Couldn't he be content writing carefully researched historical fiction in beautiful prose? My guess is that he's using his monsters and ghosts to impress on us that the historical novelist's business of bringing the dead to life involves a kind of magic.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Hugo-winner Simmons, the author of such acclaimed space operas as Hyperion and Olympos as well as Drood, an intriguing riff on Dickens's unfinished last novel, displays the impressive breath of his imagination in this historical novel with a supernatural slant. In the author's retelling of Custer's last stand at the Little Big Horn in 1876, the dying general's ghost enters the body of Paha Sapa, a 10-year-old Sioux warrior who's able to see both the past and the future by touching people. The action leaps around in time to illustrate the arc of Sapa's life, but focuses on 1936, when, as a septuagenarian, he plots to blow up the monuments on Mount Rushmore in time for a visit to the site by FDR to atone for his role in constructing the stone likenesses. In his ability to create complex characters and pair them with suspenseful situations, Simmons stands almost unmatched among his contemporaries. 6-city author tour. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
At Little Big Horn, Custer's ghost enters the body of an 11-year-old American Indian and commingles there for close to 500 pages. Among the Lakota (Sioux), conventional wisdom has always held that Paha Sapa's life experience was likely to be unconventional. His very name attests to this. Paha Sapa means Black Hills (South Dakota), and Lakota kids don't often get named for real places. Add to this the eyebrow-raising fact that in an intensely militaristic society, Paha Sapa marches to a different drummer-a Lakota boy with no aspirations to warrior-hood. Not that he's effeminate or in any way cowardly-he more than holds his own at tribal rough stuff. It's just that, well, he seems to think a lot. And then, of course, he gets those visions. Still, his report of what he experienced as the victorious dust settled over Little Big Horn transcends the merely unconventional. Long Hair's (Custer's) ghost in so unorthodox a body? Sitting Bull begs to doubt it. As does Crazy Horse, and virtually all the other illustrious war chiefs. But what matters most is that Paha Sapa believes unshakably that he's ghost-ridden because in a very real sense this shapes his destiny. Through the event-packed years that follow, pivotal conversations continue nonstop between ghost and boy-purely rancorous at the outset, more complex and ambiguous as time passes. These remarkable conversations happen in a variety of famous places: the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, where Paha Sapa's single love affair suddenly blossoms; Mount Rushmore, where his smoldering anger against white exploitation reaches its apex; and where the visionary Indian and the spectral Indian fighter finally come to terms with each other. There arerewards here, but Simmons (Drood, 2009, etc.) buries an appealing protagonist and an intriguing story under the crushing weight of a tome. Author tour to Los Angeles, San Diego, Iowa City, Chicago, Minneapolis and Austin

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316006989
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
02/24/2010
Pages:
485
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)

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Meet the Author

Dan Simmons is the award-winning author of several novels, including the New York Times bestsellers The Terror and Drood. He lives in Colorado. Visit www.dansimmons.com.

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Black Hills 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1876 following the battle of Little Big Horn, ten years old Sioux warrior Paha Sapa collects coup from the dead. However, on his last breath, the spirit of General George Custer leaves his dead body to enter that of Paha. For the rest of his life, Paha heard Custer speaking to him inside his head. He also gained the uncanny ability to know someone's past and future by simply touching them. For himself he has remained patient having seen what will occur to the sacred Black Hills in the 1930s. Thus in 1936, the septuagenarian who worked on the monuments begins his final days of atonement and exorcism with plans to blow up Mt. Rushmore as FDR arrives on a visit. This is a refreshing super paranormal historical thriller that grips the audience from the opening battle locale until the final confrontation inside and outside of the lead character's head. The story line is driven by Paha=Custer, but filled with plenty of action as events lead from Little Big Horn to Mt. Rushmore. Dan Simmons effortlessly switches from Ancient Greek and Dickensian mythologies to an American legend with this superb incredibly creative tale. Harriet Klausner
TWTaz More than 1 year ago
I was so looking forward to Black Hills. The Terror is one of my favorite books and after being disappointed with Drood I was hoping for much more from Black Hills. I almost gave up on this book and stopped reading it (the fact that I'm so anal and can't NOT finish something I've started is the only thing that kept me going with it). The jumping back and forth from different time periods didn't bother me in the least. The premise of the story is something that really interested me but, sadly, it just couldn't keep me engaged in the book. I could see no purpose whatsoever in Custer's letters to his wife, other than to showcase their freaky-deakiness in their sex life. I am far from a prude, but I just didn't see any purpose in the crudeness of those sections of the book. For me, they didn't enhance the story in any way or make me view Custer and Libby in a specific manner, if that was the author's intent. It didn't serve to make me feel some deep connection between the two of them. I found myself skimming A LOT through the Custer chapters. The most interesting part of this book for me was Paha Sapa's son's life. How I wish the book would have included more about Robert's life! It would have been a much more interesting book for me. By the second half of the book, I was forcing myself to finish reading it, which is a sad, sad thing for me because I get so much enjoyment from reading. Time to pick up the book again? Darn. It was almost like a punishment. Quite honestly, I found myself not really caring how things turned out. I forced myself to finish the book and can only hope that Dan Simmons' next novel is better than his last two. After The Terror, I expect so much more from him.
MoonLite74 More than 1 year ago
I completely agree with the reviewer who wrote that they found this book a chore to read. I LOVE to read and and am a bit more then half way through this one and don't think I'll be able to finish it. I've never NOT finished a book but I find myself extremely aggravated when reading it because there is so much unneccessary crap in there. I would not waste my time with this book nor will I pick up another book from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I sure wish non-Natives would stop writing about cultures they don't understand. Within the first pages I found many errors and improbabilities. Some is downright incorrect and offensive. I don't know where he got his information, but someone must have been messing with him. He misinterprets Crazy Horse, as well as Lakota spirituality. No one would keep a ghost of the enemy when there were medicine men to get rid of it! Fictional books that are based on facts distort history and desecrate traditions and spirituality. People should stop trying to interpret Crazy Horse's thoughts. In this instance, the author is culturally inaccurate. He doesn't know the man, the culture, or the spirituality. It is very insulting. I can't even finish the book. It's too ludicrous.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tina07 More than 1 year ago
I really liked the main character Paha Sapa, but each story line was never completely developed where I wanted to get emotionally involved. It jumped around so much, but I never felt like any story line came to a full and satisfying conclusion, although it was well written. But the end was what really disappointed me. Really? It seemed liked the Dallas ending all over again. I died, everything that happened after that was a dream, oh! Excuse me I really didn't die. At the end Dan Simmons seem to get on his soap box about global warming, cattle overgrazing, over population and religion. And really! Genetically engineered biospheres to reintroduce extinct ancient mammals with Native American Indians as a tourist attraction! Is that really the ultimate goal in our evolution? What a disappointing ending, I couldn't wait until I was finished. I was holding out hope until the end, but once I read the ending I definitely knew that I would not recommend this book to anyone that I knew.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book had a great beginning but lost me in the middle and the end was awful!!! took me forever to finish because it was so dry and boring. wish i could get my money back.....
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Lollypop99 More than 1 year ago
Can Dan Simmons get an better? What a writer! I had just finished "The Terror" "Drood" and now "Black Hills." He cannot write fast enough for me. Once you open his book there is no turning back. You're caught like a web, and cannot get out until you get to the end. I feel hypnotized when I read his books. Yes, they'e thick, they're long, but were worth taking the time to read them. Read Dan Simmons, You will convert! My vocabulary alone has doubled in words I never heard of and had to go to others to learn how to say. He doesn't just write, he teaches. Go Dan!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago