Lindbergh Alone (Native Voices)

Overview

"The day after which nothing could be the same for him was Friday, May 20, 1927. That morning, alone in a little plane powered by a single engine, Charles A. Lindbergh took off from a muddy runway on the outskirts of New York. His destination was Paris."

So begins Brendan Gill's book about the most extraordinary feat of one of our century's most extraordinary men. With his clarity of vision and his characteristic elegance, Gill gives us a meditation on one man's unprecedented accomplishment, and the world's ...

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Overview

"The day after which nothing could be the same for him was Friday, May 20, 1927. That morning, alone in a little plane powered by a single engine, Charles A. Lindbergh took off from a muddy runway on the outskirts of New York. His destination was Paris."

So begins Brendan Gill's book about the most extraordinary feat of one of our century's most extraordinary men. With his clarity of vision and his characteristic elegance, Gill gives us a meditation on one man's unprecedented accomplishment, and the world's overwhelming response.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A stirring tale of a Native American childhood, this debut draws on personal memories and official records to track Razor's painful yet triumphant years as a ward of the state of Minnesota. Abandoned by a jobless, alcoholic Chippewa father and an emotionally troubled, institutionalized mother in 1930, Razor was taken at 17 months to the State Public School at Owatonna, which he describes as a rigid, Spartan institution, where he awaited an adoption that never happened. At 15, having endured prejudice, isolation, neglect and terrible physical abuse by the staff, he was sent to work for a local farmer named John. Via a series of detailed flashbacks, Razor recounts his oppressive relationship with his new employer in spare prose loaded with feeling and insight. John's cruel treatment of Razor and of John's own wife, only stiffens the orphan's will. Meanwhile, at school, a savage hammer attack by one of the staff leaves Peter seriously injured and unable to attend classes or work for weeks. Upon returning to school, Razor finds new friends and experiences in the local high school, recounted with great energy and humor. But his situation on John's farm worsens, and eventually he's removed. While the book's conclusion is credible, it rushes toward a feel-good finish that does not live up to the power and grit of the early chapters. The epilogue of this valuable coming of age story sketches Razor's adult livelihood as a journeyman electrician, his decision to investigate his reviled Native heritage and the three children who have enriched his life. National advertising; regional author appearances. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
With its storytelling quality and method of flashing back and forth in time, Razor's memoir creates an almost hypnotic effect. Though he wrote the book at age 73, Razor relates working as a teenager for a farm family, where he was beaten regularly, as if it were the present and his experiences as an orphan at the State Public School in Owatonna (where he was sent as an enfant) as the past. Razor's story is a revelation partly of the constant physical risk he faced as an orphan and partly of the abuse he suffered from being "Injun" at a time when discrimination against Native Americans was practiced openly by many. Razor has since gone on to learn about his native culture and traditions and to receive recognition for his instrument making. Razor's memoir adds to our growing knowledge of Native American history and is part of an honorable tradition of memoir writing by Native American writers, including Linda Hogan, Paula Gunn Allen, N. Scott Momaday, and others. Recommended for all public libraries. Barbara O'Hara, Free Lib. of Philadelphia Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A septuagenarian member of the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwa tells a harrowing tale of mistreatment and racial prejudice as he movingly recalls his years as a ward of the state and an indentured laborer in Minnesota during the 1930s. Razor's memories of working on a farm complement his recollections of the St. Paul orphanage in which the state placed him after he was abandoned by his alcoholic father when only ten months old. (His mother, who suffered from depression, had been placed in an asylum.) The orphanage was a Dickensian institution bent on teaching by punishment rather than reward. With the exceptions of a kindly doctor and a young assistant, the staff was sadistic, ill-educated, and unsympathetic. Razor recalls how when he was seven years old, the husband of one matron, holding him by an arm and leg, whirled him around until he became unconscious and had to be hospitalized. Another employee beat him savagely with a broomstick, calling him a "deceitful Injun." One night while he was in bed, a matron in an insane rage attacked him with a hammer, causing injuries so severe that he was in hospital for more than a month. In early adolescence he ran away with two friends, but they were eventually caught, starving and unwashed, and brought back. Though Razor enjoyed studying and was an honor student, at 15 he was put to work on a farm. He was supposed to be paid for his labor and sent to school, but he never saw any wages, and his education came second to the needs of the farmer, who beat Peter so brutally that he ran away. Officials finally recognized the boy's plight and found him a good home. Though he exposes the reality of a system that essentially legalized child abuse, Razorsomehow manages to control his justifiable anger. A perfectly pitched memoir.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780873514262
  • Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2002
  • Series: Native Voices Series
  • Pages: 177
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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