The Return of Henry Starr

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Our mythologizing of the Old West is the theme of this epic novel about an Oklahoma outlaw who eventually immortalizes his own career in the silent movies. The eponymous hero Henry Starr, half-Cherokee nephew of Belle Starr and grandson of one of the last great Indian leaders, nourishes his imagination on dime novels celebrating the exploits of historic desperados like Jesse James and on tales of the golden age of the Cherokee nation and its defiance of the white man. But, coming of age at the turn-of-the-century, he sees the Cherokees broken in spirit and prey to vindictive government agents and greedy white landowners and bankers. Inspired by his criminal ancestors, his reading and his anger at abuses of the Indian, Starr embarks on a bankrobbing spree that earns him status as a legend. As the story opens, Starr is in prison waiting to be hanged. He is released, though, and many years later, wins fame as the star of a silent-film series based on his criminal career. While imaginatively reliving his past, Starr becomes victim of his own mystique to the point where he ``couldn't see clearly where the made-up parts left off and the life began.'' Pursued by the ghosts of his past, he resumes his earlier criminal vocation. Historian Slotkin (The Crater) renders sharply observed period detail and speech in a rich, often lyrical prose especially engaging for history buffs. Although slow-moving, this lengthy saga is certainly provocative in the way it explores the siren song of our frontier myths. (April)
Library Journal
This fictionalized tale of Henry Starr (1873-1921), one of the last of the Old West's outlaws, is a graphic depiction of a man out of step with his world. Starr, the nephew of Belle Starr of the James gang, seeks justice through crime to avenge the white man's taking of the Cherokee lands. The story, told by flashback from 1921 Tulsa, shows the Old West against the backdrop of Prohibition and growing racial tension that results in deadly riots. The rapidly shifting time frame and the many subplots add confusion and make this lengthy novel difficult to read, but it's worth the effort. Marcia R. Hoffman, M.L.S., Hoechst Celanese Corp., Somerville, N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689118111
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 4/1/1988
  • Pages: 524

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