KILLING CUSTER

In his first nonfiction work, noted Native American novelist Welch (The Indian Lawyer, 1990, etc.) stretches the boundaries of history. With the research assistance of Stekler, Welch offers a sweeping history of the American West based on work the pair did for their 1992 PBS documentary, The Last Stand. Though centered on the Battle of the Little Big Horn, in which warriors led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull defeated Custer's 7th Cavalry, the volume actually chronicles white/Indian contact and conflict from the voyage of Lewis and Clark in 1804 to the present—from the viewpoint of the Indians. Welch begins by describing the 1869 massacre of a band of his own Blackfeet people and his efforts to locate the forgotten site of the carnage. He then moves on to the story of Custer, a Civil War hero who was demoted following the war and sent to fight Indians on the Western frontier. His conduct at the Washita Massacre, during which he and his men wiped out Black Kettle's peaceful Cheyenne, called his abilities into question and demonstrated the character and leadership flaws that would help bring about his death eight years later. Brash, cavalier, and supremely confident, Custer embodied America's larger self-image. His death, in the worst military disaster of the Indian Wars, thus assumed mythic proportions, aided by a relentless publicity campaign by his widow. Welch traces the fates of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull following the famous battle and uses accounts of such other engagements as Sand Creek and the Fetterman Massacre to help put Little Big Horn in historical perspective. A late chapter personalizes the text, as Welch tells the story of his mother and his early desire to become a writer. An excellent Native version of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: a sad tale that, despite momentary triumphs like Little Big Horn, could not but end tragically for the Indians. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 1994

ISBN: 0-393-03657-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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

NIGHT

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

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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