Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas : A Biography

Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas : A Biography

Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas : A Biography

Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas : A Biography


Crazy Horse, the military leader of the Oglala Sioux whose personal power and social nonconformity set him off as "strange," fought in many famous battles, including the one at the Little Bighorn. He held out boldly against the government's efforts to confine the Sioux on reservations. Finally, in the spring of 1877 he surrendered, one of the last important chiefs to do so, only to meet a violent death. Mari Sandoz, the noted author of Cheyenne Autumn and Old Jules, both available as Bison Books, has captured the spirit of Crazy Horse with a strength and nobility befitting his heroism.


Vine Deloria Jr.

A classic book in the publishing industry usually means longevity in sales and positive reviews in the right places. Often a title has a prolonged shelf life simply because it covers a topic on which few writers are willing and able to devote their time and energy. Other times a book deserving benign neglect is embraced by an authority in the field because it promotes his or her personal point of view and thus preempts better, more thoughtful work. It is a classic in the sense that it becomes immune to criticism because of its sponsor. a better criterion might be whether or not people continue to keep the book in their library after the periodic culling of titles and read it again, even if with some irregularity. But perhaps the best description of a classic is a book that can withstand our ignorance about the subject and offer us a continuing dialogue as we age and become more familiar with the topic.

I first read Mari Sandoz's Crazy Horse: the Strange Man of the Oglalas nearly fifty years ago, as a young man, rushing through it on my way to learning all there was to know about the Sioux Indians. It was one of many books available and seemed to tell a good story, but due to my hasty read it did not impress itself upon me. in retrospect, I understand that I failed to savor the words, sentences, and paragraphs so carefully crafted as a seamless document. At my tender age they seemed to blend together into a homogeneous mass containing many extraneous details but difficult to use because of the lack of blocktexts. Facts were my quest in those days.

At that time, as a callow and ignorant youth, I was a little offended that a non-Sioux had written a biography of one of the legendary personalities of my tribe. Surely, I thought, she could know little of the nuances of . . .

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