Heartland

Robert Douglas Mead, Author Doubleday Books $19.95 (636p) ISBN 978-0-385-14774-3
There are plenty of cowboys and Indians in this patchwork quilt of a novel about the making of the American West, but the cowboys are mostly traders, trappers and smalltime promoters. Sitting Bull, Standing Bull, Running Bear and Shingawassa all sense the courage and tenacity of young Isaac Pride, seeking his fortune in virgin Kansas Territory and hoping to take his place beside heroes like Buffalo Bill Mathewson, Kit Carson and Bill Cody. These latter make appearances here too, matching wits and trigger fingers with the natives, building farms and stockades, banks and railway lines on territory once populated solely by Indians and buffalo. The buffalo are routed as white hunters grow more numerous and entrepreneurs clear the land for bigger business; there is the equally inexorable rout of the Indians, herded off the prairie and onto reservations. But center stage is Isaac, as he develops into the prototype of a nation-builder. Though his hero marries and has children, Mead seems uncomfortable with polite boy-girl palaver, his interest and talent lying instead in vignettes of the hunt and of civic and industrial expansion. Author of both fiction (You'll Never Take Me and nonfiction (Journeys Down the Line, Mead incorporates all kinds of anecdotes in this solid, well-crafted book from the fable of Sun-Boy, the Golden Rider (personified by Isaac himself), to an account of the making and breaking of the First National Bank of Wichita. February 7
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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