cover image Sitting Bull and His World

Sitting Bull and His World

Albert Marrin. Dutton Books, $27.5 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45944-6

Through Marrin's (Terror of the Spanish Main) gripping and complex portrait of Sitting Bull (1831-1890), the author demonstrates the Lakota Sioux leader's importance in understanding American life today. As the prologue states: ""Through his experiences we can gain a larger perspective on such continuing problems as racism, violence, and human rights."" Marrin skillfully describes the customs, morals and spiritual beliefs that shaped Sitting Bull into a wise man with strong ""medicine"" or magical power and a courageous fighter for what he believed in; the author asserts, ""Above all, he was a patriot who insisted that Native Americans must be free to choose their way of life."" Rather than characterizing one side as evil and the other as good, Marrin laudably sketches the gray area that grew out of cultural differences between whites and Native Americans that seemed to make conflict inevitable (e.g., whites measured success by ownership and property while Native Americans believed that ""people could not own the land any more than they could own the air they breathed, the rain that fell, or the sun's warming rays""). Readers will come away with a palpable sense of the injustice of America's Indian wars; Marrin's picture of Sitting Bull and thorough look at the West offer powerful insights into this painful episode in our nation's history. Ages 11-up. (Apr.)