Synopses & Reviews
He was the greatest Indian warrior of the nineteenth century. His victory over General Custer at the battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 was the worst defeat inflicted on the frontier Army. And the death of Crazy Horse in federal custody has remained a controversy for more than a century.
The Killing of Crazy Horse pieces together the many sources of fear and misunderstanding that resulted in an official killing hard to distinguish from a crime. A rich cast of characters, whites and Indians alike, passes through this story, including Red Cloud, the chief who dominated Oglala history for fifty years but saw in Crazy Horse a dangerous rival; No Water and Woman Dress, both of whom hated Crazy Horse and schemed against him; the young interpreter Billy Garnett, son of a fifteen-year-old Oglala woman and a Confederate general killed at Gettysburg; General George Crook, who bitterly resented newspaper reports that he had been whipped by Crazy Horse in battle; Little Big Man, who betrayed Crazy Horse; Lieutenant William Philo Clark, the smart West Point graduate who thought he could “work” Indians to do the Army's bidding; and Fast Thunder, who called Crazy Horse cousin, held him the moment he was stabbed, and then told his grandson thirty years later, “They tricked me! They tricked me!”
At the center of the story is Crazy Horse himself, the warrior of few words whom the Crow said they knew best among the Sioux, because he always came closest to them in battle. No photograph of him exists today.
The death of Crazy Horse was a traumatic event not only in Sioux but also in American history. With the Great Sioux War as background and context, drawing on many new materials as well as documents in libraries and archives, Thomas Powers recounts the final months and days of Crazy Horse's life not to lay blame but to establish what happened.
"Nothing short of a masterpiece. Complex and compelling, lurid and lyrical, tragic and transcendent from start to finish." The Christian Science Monitor
"Chilling and unforgettable....A portrait done in the blood of the heartland, a heart still beating after all these years. Powers has given us a great book, a great painting of that still-beating heart." The Washington Post
"Richly textured....Carefully and elegantly wrought....Powers tells us much that is revealing and moving about the Sioux in their last days as free warriors." The New York Times Book Review
"A story rife with intrigue, rivalry, factionalism, jealousy and betrayal. Powers works through this maze with admirable insight....The Killing of Crazy Horse will stand the test of time." The Wall Street Journal
"Superb....An epic tale....Powers's book reads like a fine historical novel, rich in important detail and fully formed minor characters, filled with felicitous summary of crucial information." St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"A skillfully written, meticulously researched book that covers far more than the chief's final days and hours." Chicago Tribune
With the Great Sioux War as background and context, and drawing on many new materials, Thomas Powers establishes what really happened in the dramatic final months and days of Crazy Horse’s life.
He was the greatest Indian warrior of the nineteenth century, whose victory over General Custer at the battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 was the worst defeat ever inflicted on the frontier army. But after surrendering to federal troops, Crazy Horse was killed in custody for reasons which have been fiercely debated for more than a century. The Killing of Crazy Horse pieces together the story behind this official killing.
About the Author
Thomas Powers is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and writer best known for his books on the history of intelligence organizations. Among them are Intelligence Wars: American Secret History from Hitler to al-Qaeda; Heisenberg’s War: The Secret History of the German Bomb; and The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA. The Killing of Crazy Horse won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for history; the Western Writers of America Spur Award for historical nonfiction; and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in the biography category. For most of the last decade Powers kept a 1984 Volvo at a nephew’s house in Colorado, which he drove on frequent trips to the northern Plains. He lives in Vermont with his wife, Candace.