BRIGHT FEATHER by Robert Wilder
Kirkus Star


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A good story in the hands of a good story teller, which will make even those allergic to historical romance sit in on the whole performance. In the field of extrasensory perception, a re-working of history, this time Florida and the montage behind the Seminole War of 1832-42, during which, according to this scathing, bitter tale, the United States, by its treacherous, uneducated, selfish program lost the respect of the Indian tribes and of most right-thinking citizens. In the story of Old Clay Hammond, avid of power, wealth, selfish indulgence, and his grandson, Clay, and that of Assecla, son of a Scot and a Greek woman, is the conflict of greed, repaid at any price, and of childhood loyalties whose hold is not broken even by war. Clay, lashed by his crippled grandsire, and Asseola (better known later by his name Osseola), firebrand of the Seminoles, who would not be transported under any treaty to lands which were not theirs, and who would not give up their useful slaves to any white demands, are parted, after a happy boyhood: together, despite disapproval, by the policies of the white emperors and their demands on the U.S. government. Clay is further isolated by Old Clay's persistence in his rights. Clay, his marriage broken, his grandfather killed, finds himself when war comes, still unable to kill Indians, so allows himself to be persuaded to be a scout and dispatch bearer, and so is present at Dade's massacre. At the expense of marriage to Sue, whose brothers had been ruined by Old Clay, young Clay continues with the Army, is captured by Asseola, and- a civilian once more-is able to decide to return to the plantation life, and rebuild. Asseola, captive under a broken peace treaty, sees Clay again at St. Augustine, pities him for his white loyalty, promises subsequent revenge on the part of the Indians. A shameful record, with factual background and a carrying sense of character and dialog, if not always of plot, this is Wilder's important book, and merits the publisher's enthusiastic endorsement.

Pub Date: May 17th, 1948
Publisher: Putnam