cover image To See with the Heart

To See with the Heart

Judith St George. Putnam Publishing Group, $17.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22930-5

The stiff, stock composition on this book's jacket hides a biography of unusual depth. The life of the Hunkpapa Sioux chief Sitting Bull (1834?-1890) spanned a time of terrible transition for his people. As a young man on the Great Plains, he led raids against traditional enemies. Older, he led his people in resisting white people's incursions and broken promises, and, as the Sioux fought off encroachment sparked by a gold rush in the Black Hills, took part in the Battle of Little Bighorn. But in 1881, he had to ""bring in"" his last group of followers and surrender with them to the U.S. Army. He died ignominiously in a bungled--and unnecessary--arrest. St. George (Crazy Horse), using an archive of interviews with Sitting Bull's contemporaries, attempts to reconstruct in detail the life and character of this great leader. The result reads almost like a novel, but one accurately embedded in the history of the American West. Sitting Bull, reimagined carefully and respectfully, is revealed as a man esteemed not only for his feats in battle, his wisdom and his spiritual strength, but for his generosity and his ability to see ""with the eyes in his heart rather than the eyes in his head."" Ages 10-14. (May)