cover image Tallgrass


Don Coldsmith / Author Bantam Books $23.95 (464p) ISBN 978-0-5

Taking a break from his Spanish Bit Saga (Bearer of the Pipe, etc.), Coldsmith delivers a meticulously detailed, sweeping tale of Native American life and the gradual encroachment by the white man's world. Covering nearly 300 years of North American prairie history, the novel consists of seven loosely connected stories. The first begins in 1541, when the Spanish arrive on the continent and peacefully encounter the Pani tribe. At this time, Heron Woman conceives a child with a Spaniard, the first of many unions in the book. More than 100 years later, tensions arise between the natives and the settlers, resulting in conflict and massacre. The stories continue with a French ambassador in 1724; the heirs of Lewis and Clark and further expeditions in the West; the legacy of Daniel Boone; and the opening of commerce and the Santa Fe Trail in the 1820s. They end in 1835, when a Princeton dropout, who has been living with a Native American tribe, returns home to ""civilization"" for a brief visit. Coldsmith is a master storyteller, who here offers a colorful and clever lesson in history, bringing to life the experience of people discovering, trusting and adapting to each other in uncertain and wondrous times. (Apr.)