Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This latest biography from a master of the genre draws on first-hand accounts of the life and personality of the great Lakota warrior Crazy Horse, combining them with a succinct but dramatic narration of the bloody conflict that ended only with the forced settlement of the last free Native American nation. Born around 1841 as a member of a freely ranging band, Crazy Horse died in 1877 as a captive of the U.S. Army. Quiet and reserved, "he wore no war paint, took no scalps, and refused to boast about his brave deeds," writes Freedman. But he was a revered leader in battles along the Oregon and Bozeman trailswhich culminated in the Battle of the Little Bighornas the Indians of the northern Plains fought an ultimately futile war to keep their independence. Illustrations are taken from the ledger book kept by Crazy Horse's cousin Amos Bad Heart Bull (1869-1913), the historian of the Oglala Sioux. Reproduced from black-and-white photographs made before the ledger book was buried with the artist's sister in 1947, in accordance with Sioux custom, the art is not as crisp and sharp as contemporary kids are used to. But along with the personal accounts the pictures effectively evoke life as Crazy Horse would have known it, wooing a young woman in a "courting blanket," raiding a neighboring tribe for horses, or fighting the U.S. cavalry. No dry history this, but a story certain to sweep readers along its tragic path. Ages 10-up. (June)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
In this compelling biography based on extensive research and the artwork of a tribal historian and cousin of Crazy Horse, we really get acquainted with this famous Native American. Crazy Horse was different, he did not pride himself on war and killing, but he was a brave and formidable foe, one of the few to win a major battle against the American Cavalry. He never stopped fighting for his people's right to their hunting grounds and never signed a treaty. His person life, including his great love for Black Buffalo Woman, marriage to Black Shawl and other family and friends are wonderfully brought to life. The end of his life, a violent death due to jealousy and treachery is movingly described. Freedman's use of quotes and drawings of the events make for a lively and fascinating biography. The book includes a long note about the drawings, a chronology, bibliography and index which make it an excellent choice for school and library collections.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 UpAn account of the Oglala Sioux leader's life, written with the attention to detail of a historian and the language of a storyteller. Freedman paints the famous warrior's story on a broad canvas, describing the forces (desire for farmland, gold, railroads) that brought increasing numbers of white settlers to the Indian lands. The divisions among and within the tribes in the face of the ever-growing problem are explained, as is Crazy Horse's adamant refusal to give in to either the threats or the treaty offers of the U.S. Army and the government. The climactic battle of the Little Big Horn is described and shown to be the last triumph of the Sioux before they were herded onto reservations, and the last great victory of Crazy Horse before he was pushed to surrender and face his own violent death. Judith St. George's Crazy Horse (Putnam's 1994) tells very much the same story but adds more details of Indian tribal life and customs. Freedman's book is richer in historical background. His focus is on the conflict of two cultures, and in that conflict Crazy Horse plays the role of the tragic hero, resisting the inevitable, fighting for his people's freedom even when he knew the cause was lost. An impressive bibliography is appended. Black-and-white reproductions of Indian pictographs from a collection of drawings by a Sioux artist (Crazy Horse's cousin) decorate and lend authenticity to Freedman's story-a story that is readable and balanced, and one that illuminates an important chapter of American history.Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
A spectacular match: Freedmans tale of the great Oglala Siouxs career is coupled with 50 black-and-white pictographs done by a tribal historian. By all accounts, Crazy Horse was a strange, solitary, ascetic man, and he is still revered as much for his private generosity as for his military exploits. Freedman (Kids at Work, 1994, etc.) depicts him as a classic, mythic hero, describing with dash and drama the vision that shaped his reckless courage, his role in the Fetterman Fight, at the Little Big Horn, and in countless smaller engagements, his stubborn resistance to the wars changing tide, and the ambiguous circumstances of his death.
Unlike Judith St. George (Crazy Horse, 1994), Freedman plays down his subjects bloodthirsty side, but both authors present balanced, convincing accounts of the prejudice, confusion, and simple incomprehension that fueled the Indian Wars, and reaffirm the central role that Crazy Horse played in them. As was true of Freedman's Indian Winter (1992), illustrations created not long after the events they depict give this a unique authority; Amos Bad Heart Bull (1869-1913) was a cousin of Crazy Horse, and his drawings, done in the 1890s, are based on Sioux witnesses personal accounts.