A complex and inspiring hymn to the powers of dogged research.


Indian Blood

An Army intelligence officer investigates an obscure republic in a search of his Native American ancestors.

In the first book he’s published under his own name, Stanton (Tales of Ramasun, 2012, etc., as M.H. Burton) rifles history’s overlooked pages to track down the real story behind the Sioux Uprising of 1862 and its gruesome aftermath. In the process, he stumbles on a nearly forgotten Utopian colony on the banks of the Minnesota River and discovers the dark fate that befell the Native Americans and whites who briefly lived there together in hope. As the novel opens, the narrator, Billy Hartman Lindeman, ponders his Great Aunt Helen’s strange tale about “Indian blood,” purportedly his own, and his family’s connection to a mysterious place called the New Hazelwood Republic. The Rev. Stephen R. Riggs founded Hazelwood in 1856 for peaceful Sioux who “pledged themselves to take on the ways of the white man and give up their Dakota habits, customs and beliefs.” The colony was destroyed during the uprising, and figuring out how, why, and in what way this old war relates to his “Indian blood” requires all of Hartman’s abilities as a researcher/cryptologist (skills he last employed as a cold warrior manning the Army’s Russia desk). Along the way, he reconnects with an old flame and uncovers an ancient land theft he vows to set right. Stanton has done his legal research even if the dialogue in which such information is revealed reads a bit awkwardly (legal terms appear in bold but are otherwise unexplained). Dialogue in general is the book’s weak spot: characters often moan, laugh, or giggle with mouths full of too many words to make that possible (“ ‘A sickening story, I knew our treatment of the Dakota was awful, but never that horrible. Nothing any white man did, not even well-intentioned white men like Reverend Riggs, helped them. Most white men had no thought but to exterminate them, like the buffalo’ moaned Ann”). This is largely a work of reports and conversations, but such scenes can be full of drama and illumination, and there’s plenty stirring in Stanton’s vision of Hazelwood. Its aim to develop “vigorous bodies and independent unfettered minds,” in a place where “public enterprises would be operated for the benefit of the whole,” is a fine thing to contemplate.

A complex and inspiring hymn to the powers of dogged research. 

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Burton Books

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2017

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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