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Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas

Product no.: 0-8032-9211-2
Mari Sandoz offers a powerful evocation of the long-ago world and enduring spirit of Crazy Horse.

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Publisher's Synopsis
Mari Sandoz tells us Crazy Horse was born in or around the year 1842 to Sioux parents on Rapid Creek, in an area called the Black Hills, or Paha Sapa. The Black Hills were the center of Sioux land, which spread out into what is now called Wyoming, Nebraska, South and North Dakota, and Montana. The young boy was light-skinned compared to his people, and his hair was light-colored and curly, earning him his childhood name of "Curly."

When still just a pre-teen, Curly witnessed the shooting of some of his people by the Army, led by a man named Grattan. The shooting was over the loss of a cow, something ridiculous. This was one of dozens of incidents in the book where clashes between the whites and the Indians went badly; growing up with these types of things happening to his people constatntly, Crazy Horse vowed to protect his people from the whites' invasion of Sioux land. From bravery in battle, "Curly" was granted the name of his father, Crazy Horse. Quickly he was recognized for his cunning, as well as bravery and skill in battle. Often Crazy Horse led decoys in battles, like in the Fetterman Massacre and Platte Bridge battles.

There were many other Sioux warriors and leaders besides Crazy Horse who helped (often in giving up their lives) the effort of their people to keep their homeland. Others mentioned and chronicled in the book are Sitting Bull (the medicine man who once cut out 100 pieces of his own skin in order to get a vision), Young Man Afraid of His Horse, Spotted Tail, Worm (Crazy Horse's father's name in later life), Red Cloud, Touch the Clouds, Little Big Man, American Horse, Conquering Bear, He Dog, and Dull Knife.

Crazy Horse, the legendary military leader of the Oglala Sioux whose personal power and social nonconformity contributed to his reputation as being “strange,” fought in many famous battles, including the Little Bighorn, and held out tirelessly against the U.S. government’s efforts to confine the Lakotas to reservations. Finally, in the spring of 1877 he surrendered, only to meet a violent death. More than a century later Crazy Horse continues to hold a special place in the hearts and minds of his people.

Chosen as a 2007 One Book, One Nebraska selection.


"...a narrative of striking richness and power; it is simultaneously intimate and strange, like something overheard in someone else's tongue and mind, and it conveys the feel of a life relentlessly driven, and in the end extinguished, by unknown forces for reasons only dimly understood."      ~New York Review

“[One] of the great stories of the West, and written... in the spirit of the sages, with a scrupulous regard for truth and history.”      ~Atlantic Monthly

“Here is a glorious hero tale told with beauty and power... the story of a great American.”      ~John G. Neihardt

"Crazy Horse's father was my father's cousin, and there were no chiefs in our family before Crazy Horse; but there were holy men; and he became a chief because of the power he got in a vision when he was a boy. When I was a man, my father told me something about that vision. Of course he did not know all of it; but he said that Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world. He was on his horse in that world, and the horse and himself on it and the trees and the grass and the stones and everything were made of spirit, and nothing was hard, and everything seemed to float. His horse was standing still there, and yet it danced around like a horse made only of shadow, and that is how he got his name, which does not mean that his horse was crazy or wild, but that in his vision it danced around in that queer way.

It was this vision that gave him his great power, for when he went into a fight, he had only to think of that world to be in it again, so that he could go through anything and not be hurt. Until he was killed at the Soldiers' Town on White River, he was wounded only twice, once by accident and both times by some one of his own people when he was not expecting trouble and was not thinking; never by an enemy."     ~Black Elk Speaks

Author Sandoz, Mari
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 428 pp.
Publisher University of Nebraska Press 1992
Browse these categories as well: Genocide of the Native Americans, Sioux, Hopi and Intertribal Wisdom, Spiritual Biography and Autobiography

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