"His narrative is griping....Mr. Utley transforms Sitting Bull, the abstract, romanticized icon and symbol, into a flesh-and-blood person with a down-to-earth story....THE LANCE AND THE SHIELD clears the screen of the exaggerations and fantasies long directed at the name of Sitting Bull."
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
Reviled by the United States government as a troublemaker and a coward, revered by his people as a great warrior chief, Sitting Bull has long been one of the most fascinating and misunderstood figures in American history. Now, distinguished historian Robert M. Utley has forged a compelling new portrait of Sitting Bull, viewing the man from the Lakota perspective for the very first time to render the most unbiased and historically accurate biography of Sitting Buil to date.
WINNER OF THE SPUR AWARD FOR BEST WESTERN NONFICTION
HISTORICAL BOOK OF 1993
A MAIN SELECTIN OF THE HISTORY BOOK CLUB
A FEATURED ALTERNATE SELECTION OF THE QUALITY PAPERBACK BOOK
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Enormous, groundbreaking biography of the great Lakota Sioux war chief (c. 1831-90). To date, the standard biography of Sitting Bull has been Stanley Vestal's Sitting Bull, Chief of the Sioux, written decades ago and more a triumph of literature than of history. Now, utilizing Vestal's original notes (collected in the 1920's and 30's and featuring interviews with many warriors who knew Sitting Bull intimately), as well as his own extensive research, Utley (Billy the Kid, 1989, etc.) has forged a new portrait of the Sioux warrior that places him squarely within his social and historical context. Whether Utley succeeds in his ambition of writing from both white and Native American perspectives is arguable--can anyone merge the two?--but he details with exquisite care and objectivity the life of the Lakota in the post-Civil War era, along with the intentions and actions of the Federal government. Into this powder-keg situation was born Sitting Bull, who soon demonstrated the revered Lakota male traits of bravery, humility, wisdom, and generosity. Utley, benefiting greatly from massive recent scholarship, traces Sitting Bull's rise as a war chief and as a wichasha wakan (holy man) with greater sensitivity to Native American ways than did previous biographers. In doing so, he puts the lie to earlier portraits of Sitting Bull as a cowardly ``pretender to high rank,'' revealing him as the supreme Sioux chief, a man ``distant and aloof from all whites,'' obsessed with his people's freedom, perhaps too stubborn but unquestionably a ``towering figure.'' Even the years of defeat--including a stint with Buffalo Bill's circus--shine with dignity, and Utley shows that Sitting Bull's death--which the author, going against popular belief, argues was not an assassination but an accident--marked a tragic loss for all Americans, white or Native American. The new standard against which all future lives of Sitting Bull will be measured. (Thirty-two b&w photographs, three maps) (History Book Club Main Selection) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
Utley ( Billy the Kid , Univ. of Nebraska Pr., 1989; Cavalier in Buckskin , Univ. of Oklahoma Pr., 1988, among others) turns his attention to one of the best-known Native American leaders. Utley draws extensively from the papers of Stanley Vestal, who wrote what most consider to be the standard biography, Sitting Bull, Champion of the Sioux (Univ. of Oklahoma Pr., 1989). Unlike Vestal's work, or Alexander B. Adams's popular Sitting Bull: An Epic of the Plains (1973. o.p.), Utley is grounded in the historical method, placing Sitting Bull in the context of his time and culture. Sitting Bull emerges as a complex leader who defeated Custer during what could be termed the "lance" portion of his life but was killed by his own people while defending them against white encroachment--as a "shield." This book is expected to become the standard account on Sitting Bull for both the scholar and the armchair student of the American West. Highly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/93.
- Daniel Liestman, Seattle Pacific Univ. Lib.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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