cover image Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse

Larry McMurtry. Puffin Books, $19.95 (148pp) ISBN 978-0-670-88234-2

Deceptively brief and seemingly lightweight, this wonderful work effectively cuts through decades of hyperbole. McMurtry illuminates the enigma and the myth of Crazy Horse to present him as a man--no more, no less. He has stripped away the incessant Noble Savage image that persists in many serious works about Native Americans, even to this day. He gently jabs earlier biographers who based entire volumes on little or no evidence of the events in Crazy Horse's life. ""Still I am not writing this book because I think I know what Crazy Horse did--much less what he thought--on more than a few occasions in his life; I'm writing it because I have some notions about what he meant to his people in his lifetime, and also what he has come to mean to generations of Sioux in our century and even our time."" McMurtry's simple, eloquent prose conveys Plains Indian culture far better than most anthropological efforts, leaving the reader with a clear, dignified image of the great warrior (who died in 1877) without needless conjectures of day-by-day activities. Although complicated by the politics of money and land, this is, as McMurtry ultimately shows, the story of a man ""who had no politics, just the conviction that he wanted to live his life in accordance with the precepts of his own people."" First serial to American Heritage; BOMC alternate. (Jan.) FYI: Viking plans to release two Penguin Lives titles each season, six each year. This volume, along with Edmund White's biography of Proust (see p. 62), is the first.