HALFBREED: The Remarkable True Story of George Bent, Caught Between the Worlds of the Indian and the White Man

David Fridtjof Halaas, Author, Andrew E. Masich, Author . Da Capo $30 (496p) ISBN 978-0-306-81320-7

The son of white Southwest trader William Bent and his Cheyenne spouse, Owl Woman, George Bent (1843–1918) receives rich biographical treatment from Halaas (former Library of Congress historian and now director of Pittsburgh's Heinz History Center) and Masich (president and CEO of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania). They show Bent growing up more attuned to his mother's culture than his father's, but receiving a conventional white-world. education at the latter's insistence. George was in St. Louis when the Civil War broke out and promptly joined the Confederate Army. He later deserted, returned to the camps of the now beleaguered Southern Cheyenne and survived the horrifying Sand Creek Massacre of noncombatant Cheyenne by Colorado militia. George then spent several years as an effective Cheyenne Dog Soldier warrior before becoming a mediator, agent and, in due course, a major source for the history of the Cheyenne through his prodigious correspondence with several white scholars. He battled poverty, financial scandals, broken marriages, alcoholism and the problem of not being fully trusted by either Cheyenne or white, all of which are recorded meticulously along with his more public achievements. One suspects that some of George's martial prowess was "remembered with advantage," but the research on both the man and his times and places appears painstaking. The narrative as presented by Halaas and Masich is coherent if not necessarily fluent, and the book emerges as a powerful chronicle of a man who stood squarely in the middle of the tragedy of the Plains Indians, seeing and being seen by both sides. (Feb. 15)

Reviewed on: 01/12/2004
Release date: 01/01/2004
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Paperback - 458 pages - 978-0-306-81410-5
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