A strong work of Western history that strives to bring the Native American view to center stage.



Spirited history of the great Sioux war leaders of the late 19th century and their valiant stand against White encroachment.

Is it possible to say anything more about George Armstrong Custer? Perhaps not, and Gardner, a practiced historian of the West, doesn’t really try. Instead, he places Custer’s demise in the context of a complex Native political and military milieu, with two leaders of widely different dispositions in the forefront. One was Sitting Bull, who, as a holy man endowed with a gift of vision, not only launched a concerted war against the Whites, but also foresaw Custer’s defeat in specific detail. Another was Crazy Horse, the “mysterious Oglala war chief,” whose bravery in the Battle of Little Bighorn verged on the suicidal. Gardner broadens the narrative to embrace related episodes such as the so-called Red Cloud War and the Starvation March, the latter of which made Sitting Bull’s name a household word—so famous that once he surrendered, he joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. (See Deanne Stillman’s excellent Blood Brothers for more.) Gardner does a good job of showing how events large and small conditioned the last 20-odd years of the Sioux Wars. For example, as he writes of the Yellowstone region, sacred ground to many Native groups, “the Panic of 1873 put a temporary stop to the Northern Pacific [Railroad], but it didn’t put a stop to the white man’s incursions.” Deals cut behind closed doors in Washington, D.C., were as significant as closer-to-home developments such as the Ghost Dance—and, as Gardner shows, unbending federal policies and their enforcers proved fatal to both Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, who “would not suffer the ignominy of being imprisoned.” A grim highlight of the book is the denouement, which recounts what happened to Sitting Bull’s body in the years after his murder in 1890.

A strong work of Western history that strives to bring the Native American view to center stage.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-062-66989-6

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Mariner Books

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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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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