cover image Reap the Whirlwind: The Battle of the Rosebud, June 1876

Reap the Whirlwind: The Battle of the Rosebud, June 1876

Terry C. Johnston. Bantam Books, $7.99 (512pp) ISBN 978-0-553-29974-8

This historical novel takes place in 1876, shortly before the Battle of Little Bighorn. In the Battle of the Rosebud, Brigadier General George C. Crook's Union forces clash with Crazy Horse's Lakota Sioux warriors over control of Wyoming Territory. The story revolves around the adventures of several men, such as Seamus Donegan, a U.S. army scout hired by Crook; John Finerty, a war correspondent for the Chicago Times ; and Crazy Horse. Crook believes himself the sure winner at the start of the conflict, but his confidence wanes as the number of men on both sides increases and he realizes that the shrewdness and tactical ability of his opponent may surpass all his expectations. Although white men tell most of the story, Johnston ( Winter Rain ) does not condescend to his Indian characters; he treats both sides with equal sensitivity. Readers must decide who wins the final battle at Rosebud Creek because, as Johnston explains in an afterword, little documentation exists regarding the battle. Unfortunately, detailed descriptions of battle maneuvers and gratuitous verbiage slow the book down. In general, however, this account of battle on the plains brings the period to life. (Feb.)