Crazy Horse

Larry McMurtry

Book - 1999

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New York : Viking/Lipper Book 1999.
Item Description
"A Penguin life."
Physical Description
148 p.
Main Author
Larry McMurtry (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

The publisher has lined up an impressive list of writers to provide digestible biographical sketches of a variety of historically and culturally significant authors, politicians, military leaders, religious figures, scientists, and artists. Best-selling novelist and history buff Larry McMurtry helps launch the Penguin Lives series with an elegantly styled tribute to enigmatic Sioux warrior Crazy Horse. Though essentially a loner and devoid of political ambition, Crazy Horse was a respected military tactician, equally feared and admired for the strength and the intensity of his convictions. Rather than merely attempting to sort out fact from fiction, McMurtry incorporates conjecture and legend into this philosophical portrait of both the man and the myth. Titles to follow in this promising and original new series include Edmund White on Marcel Proust, Jane Smiley on Charles Dickens, Garry Wills on St. Augustine, Carol Shields on Jane Austen, and Marshall Frady on Martin Luther King Jr. ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 1999)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

McMurtry tackles the life of Native American legend Crazy Horse. Copyright 1998 Library Journal Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The new "Penguin Lives" series gives contemporary writers the chance to offer succinct biographies of well-known and significant figures in whom they are especially interested. Since so very little is known with any certainty about the Sioux warrior-leader Crazy Horse, he hardly seems the ideal figure with whom to start. Nevertheless, novelist McMurtry (Lonesome Dove, LJ 5/1/89) overcomes this handicap by constructing a thoughtful discussion of Sioux culture around the known facts to show how Crazy Horse was shaped by his society and how he reacted to its destruction as whites spread onto the Great Plains. Given the paucity of sources, McMurtry is careful to keep his own guesswork to a minimum, and he is critical of previous writers for going beyond what he thinks justified. This brief and well-written introduction to Sioux culture and the enigmatic Crazy Horse is recommended for school and public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/98.] Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette Copyright 1998 Library Journal Reviews

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Deceptively brief and seemingly lightweight, this wonderful work effectively cuts through decades of hyperbole. McMurtry illuminates the enigma and the myth of Crazy Horse to present him as a man no more, no less. He has stripped away the incessant Noble Savage image that persists in many serious works about Native Americans, even to this day. He gently jabs earlier biographers who based entire volumes on little or no evidence of the events in Crazy Horse's life. "Still I am not writing this book because I think I know what Crazy Horse did much less what he thought on more than a few occasions in his life; I'm writing it because I have some notions about what he meant to his people in his lifetime, and also what he has come to mean to generations of Sioux in our century and even our time." McMurtry's simple, eloquent prose conveys Plains Indian culture far better than most anthropological efforts, leaving the reader with a clear, dignified image of the great warrior (who died in 1877) without needless conjectures of day-by-day activities. Although complicated by the politics of money and land, this is, as McMurtry ultimately shows, the story of a man "who had no politics, just the conviction that he wanted to live his life in accordance with the precepts of his own people." First serial to American Heritage; BOMC alternate. (Jan.) FYI: Viking plans to release two Penguin Lives titles each season, six each year. This volume, along with Edmund White's biography of Proust (see p. 62), is the first. Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Strips away the tall tales of legend to reveal the essence of Crazy Horse, profiling him as a brilliant and ascetic warrior-hero whose life encapsuled Native American tragedy and the end of the untamed West. 35,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Strips away the tall tales of legend to reveal the essence of Crazy Horse, profiling him as a brilliant and ascetic warrior-hero whose life exemplified Native American tragedy and the end of the untamed West

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Legends cloud the life of Crazy Horse, a seminal figure in American history but an enigma even to his own people in his own day. This biography looks back across more than one hundred and twenty years at the life and death of this great Sioux warrior who became a reluctant leader at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. With his uncanny gift for understanding the human psyche, Larry McMurtry animates the character of this remarkable figure, whose betrayal by white representatives of the U.S. government was a tragic turning point in the history of the West. A mythic figure puzzled over by generations of historians, Crazy Horse emerges from McMurtry's sensitive portrait as the poignant hero of a long-since-vanished epoch.