A readable biography of Lakota chief Red Cloud that attempts to untangle the many conflicting accounts of this key figure in 19th-century America. Larson, a retired professor of history (Univ. of Northern Colorado, Greeley), places the rather scanty and unreliable information we have about Red Cloud's life within the larger context of Indian tribal conflicts, the Anglo-Indian wars, and the eventual peace that was established between the Indians and the conquering Anglo-Americans. Born in 1821 to a Lakota Sioux band and well known for his valor on the battlefield (against both whites and other Indians), he became the acknowledged leader of his tribe. As he was nearing 40, however, and past his physical prime, Red Cloud was content to leave the fighting to younger warriors, such as Crazy Horse, and focus his attentions on political dealings with the US government. Representing the Lakotas, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes, Red Cloud signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, making peace with the whites. But though he was a tough negotiator, the government was in fact heeding its own interests when it conceded to him many of his demands. It had discovered that supporting the Indians was more economical than fighting them, and determined to move the Lakota Sioux onto reservations. Red Cloud agreed to the condition—against the wishes of other Sioux chiefs- -although it would not be until two years later, after his first visit to Washington to meet the ``Great White Father,'' that he would begin his long career on the reservation. There he continued to be a vital spokesman for his people, helping to preserve their land and their heritage. He died in 1909. A good start, although the man behind the legend still remains cloaked in mystery. (21 illustrations and 1 map, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8061-2930-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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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

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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