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Hundred in the Hand (Lakota Westerns)by Joseph M. Marshall III
Synopses & Reviews
Seeking to complete the compelling story of the American West, best-selling Lakota author Joseph Marshall brings a new slant to the traditional Western: historical fiction written from the Native American viewpoint. The first novel in this new series, Hundred in the Hand takes place during the Battle of the Hundred in the Hand, otherwise known as the Fetterman Massacre of 1866. The story is told through the eyes of Cloud, a dedicated and able warrior who fought alongside a young Crazy Horse, as well as the white soldiers who mistake Cloud's wife for a captive. Beautifully written and reminiscent of the oral tradition, Hundred in the Hand brings a new depth to the story of the battle and the history of the Lakota people.
"I've always suspected that cowboys are really Indians in disguise. Joseph Marshall's astonishing new Western is proof. 'Hundred in the Hand' is the Lakota name for what historians have referred to as the Fetterman Massacre, a battle that took place on Dec. 21, 1866, and wiped out all 80 of the U.S. soldiers involved. The battle was part of Red Cloud's War, which concluded in victory for the Lakota... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) and their allies at the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. Marshall's novel follows the lives and luck of a handful of Lakota warriors and their families leading up to the battle. Principal among them are Red Cloud and his wife, Sweetwater; his cousin Rabbit, who nurses a hatred for white people as much as he nurses his missing hand, shot off during a conflict with prospectors; and young Crazy Horse, just coming into his powers. We see them in their villages going about their daily lives, on hunting trips, scouting the enemy, making decisions about whether to attack, and, ultimately, planning and carrying out a phenomenal victory over the soldiers garrisoned in Fort Phil Kearny in present-day Wyoming. 'Hundred in the Hand' is the first in a series of novels published by Fulcrum about the American West written from the Native American perspective. The publisher claims that this book is reminiscent of the oral tradition of Indian storytelling. But for something to jog the memory, we have to know it in the first place, and this novel doesn't evoke Indian storytelling (whatever that is) as much as the tradition of old Westerns. It sounds and reads like a Western, only facing the wrong direction. Beginning with the Leatherstocking in James Fenimore Cooper's 'Pioneers,' moving through Owen Wister's 'Virginian' and showing no signs of stopping with either Clint Eastwood or Brad Pitt's Jesse James, the cowboy has always been a man living on the margins of society or completely cast out of it, trying to make sense of a rapidly changing world in which his way of life is either threatened or already vanished. The hero-cowboy is ultimately caught up in events that signify both the age that is passing and the one that is to come. In the end he rides off into the sunset — or dies illuminated by it. Marshall's Indian heroes are no different. They, too, try to make sense of a world that is being imposed on them. They fight to keep the values they hold dear as alive as the elk that walk down off the mountains only to be brought down with two (zip! zip!) well-placed arrows. This idea of the disappearing Indian is not new, and Marshall wisely borrows the types (stern, stoic, far-seeing, worried) that the genre has to offer in order to tell the story of the West anew. What is interesting is that Cooper, Wister and Zane Grey first created the cowboy persona by imbuing him with the attributes usually ascribed to Indians and Indian cultures, namely, a combination of ability, fearlessness and manliness tinged with a bloom of romantic obsolescence: The days allotted to cowboys and Indians alike are numbered. Cowboys have always been 'Indian.' Marshall also gives us a completely realized world. Readers who love to hear a harness creak or the whistle of an arrow or love to see snow snake across a drifted valley floor will revel in Marshall's West. The flora and fauna and the people who use them are magnificently drawn, not overly fancy, nothing that draws too much attention to itself, as in this description of the Big Horn Mountains: 'Farther west, beyond the trail, hazy foothills sloped upward until a line of jagged ridges rose like shadowy giants — the Shining Mountains. Overhead, the glaring orb of the sun was just past the midway point in the cloudless sky, beating down on a hot day in the Moon When Things Ripen. The land was silent. ... Even the breeze floated cautiously over the sagebrush and sparse grass along the Powder River Road.' Strangely, though, 'Hundred in the Hand' falters in exactly the opposite manner from most Westerns: The Indian characters are fully realized and speak in refreshingly unstilted prose, whereas the white characters sound weird, as though animated by old watch parts and rubber bands. Take this exchange between the white trader Hornsby and the ill-fated Colonel Fetterman: '"Captain, as soon as the weather breaks, I am heading south to Fort Laramie to then find the fastest way home. So if you are bound to have this talk, let us make it soon." 'Fetterman smiled and extended his hand. "Then let us make it tomorrow evening. We can meet in the officers' quarters. I have a bottle of cherished Irish whisky for the occasion."' Anyone who uses the phrase 'cherished Irish whisky' deserves what's coming to him. But then again, Westerns have always traded in the ideal, rather than the real. In Marshall's story, the white soldiers are really awful and deserve to die. The brave warriors are very brave and deserve to live. Feelings — Red Cloud's concern for his wife, Hornsby's jealousy upon seeing a white woman married to an Indian — are fully realized only to the extent that characters in Westerns can afford them. Marshall has tapped into an old form and infused it with a slightly different brand of knowledge to produce a swift, compelling read. Simply put, if you like Westerns, you'll love this one. David Treuer's most recent novel, 'The Translation of Dr Apelles,' will be available in paperback in February." Reviewed by David Treuer, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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The first in a series of groundbreaking novels about the American West from the Lakota perspective
About the Author
Joseph M. Marshall III was born and raised on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation and holds a PhD from the reservation university, which he helped to establish. The author of nine books, including one for children, he has also contributed to various publications and written several screenplays. His works have received numerous awards and his books have been published in French, Hebrew, and Korean. As a speaker and lecturer, Marshall has traveled to Sweden, Siberia, and France as well as venues in the United States. His audiences include students of all levels, teachers, historical societies, and professionals from all walks of life. His first language is Lakota, he hand crafts primitive Lakota bows and arrows, and is a specialist in wilderness survival. Marshall's latest work as a cultural and historical consultant can be seen and heard in the Turner Network Television (TNT) and Dreamworks epic television miniseries Into the West. He was the Native technical advisor, the Native voice-over narrator, and played the role of Loved by the Buffalo, a Lakota medicine man, in two episodes.
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