An entertaining and insightful exposition of an unjustly ignored facet of the American social fabric.




From the birth of the fur trade through the establishment of reservations and boarding schools to the present day, a touching portrait of race relations on the frontier.

Graybill (History and Southwest Studies/Southern Methodist Univ.; Policing the Great Plains: Rangers, Mounties, and the North American Frontier, 1875–1910, 2007, etc.) traces the history of relationships between Indians and whites by telling the story of Malcolm Clarke, a failed military man and fur-trading pioneer, and his Piegan Blackfoot wife, Coth-co-co-na, as well as three generations of their descendants. Beginning with the introduction of horses in the 1730s, the Blackfeet experienced European colonization as an unremitting avalanche of cultural change, which drove them from their position as the undisputed masters of the Northern Plains to a small, economically depressed reservation. Thomas Jefferson saw intermarriage as “the key to peaceful frontier absorption as well as the eventual assimilation of Indians into mainstream Anglo-American society,” but the reality was rarely so clean-cut. Utilizing primary sources at the Montana Historical Society and interviews with the Clarkes’ living relatives, Graybill uncovers a forgotten history culminating in the Marias Massacre, an epochal event for the Blackfeet but so obscure today that no marker commemorates its location. Evocative details and a close attention to the arc of its subjects’ lives lend Graybill’s narrative emotional heft. The family’s descendants include the remarkable Helen Clarke, a successful Broadway actor and Montana’s first female elected official, and John Clarke, deafened in infancy by scarlet fever, who became a world-renowned sculptor. Despite their fame, they never achieved financial stability or full social acceptance; the received knowledge was that “peoples of mixed ancestry...fomented dissension by manipulating their supposedly slow-witted relatives of pure [Indian] blood.”

An entertaining and insightful exposition of an unjustly ignored facet of the American social fabric.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-87140-445-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet