cover image The Life and Death of Crazy Horse

The Life and Death of Crazy Horse

Russell Freedman. Holiday House, $26.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1219-8

This latest biography from a master of the genre draws on first-hand accounts of the life and personality of the great Lakota warrior Crazy Horse, combining them with a succinct but dramatic narration of the bloody conflict that ended only with the forced settlement of the last free Native American nation. Born around 1841 as a member of a freely ranging band, Crazy Horse died in 1877 as a captive of the U.S. Army. Quiet and reserved, ""he wore no war paint, took no scalps, and refused to boast about his brave deeds,"" writes Freedman. But he was a revered leader in battles along the Oregon and Bozeman trails--which culminated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn--as the Indians of the northern Plains fought an ultimately futile war to keep their independence. Illustrations are taken from the ledger book kept by Crazy Horse's cousin Amos Bad Heart Bull (1869-1913), the historian of the Oglala Sioux. Reproduced from black-and-white photographs made before the ledger book was buried with the artist's sister in 1947, in accordance with Sioux custom, the art is not as crisp and sharp as contemporary kids are used to. But along with the personal accounts the pictures effectively evoke life as Crazy Horse would have known it, wooing a young woman in a ""courting blanket,"" raiding a neighboring tribe for horses, or fighting the U.S. cavalry. No dry history this, but a story certain to sweep readers along its tragic path. Ages 10-up. (June)