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Book Review

‘The Heart of Everything That Is’ is an epic historical truth


BookReview by Shirley Shiffler

Simon and Schuster

Pub. Date 11/5/13


414 pp.

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The untold history of Red Cloud, the great warrior and leader of the Sioux Nation, is captured with the pages of “The Heart of Everything That Is.” Told with epic detail illustrating his brilliant tactical role in some of the more gruesome battles between the Native Americans and the white man in the fight over western expansion, the narrative culminates with a description of the only war the Indians won against the U.S. Army.

Neither side is romanticized in this story. The Indians are brutal and savage fighters, and the officers deployed to the frontier were all too often imbued with a sense of martial superiority that ranged from “naïve to obtuse to hateful, with personalities unencumbered with charisma and minds unclouded by thought.” While Red Cloud did win this war, we know the U.S. continued to push on, despite any peace treaties. The beginning of the end for the Plains Indians arrived with the completion of the railroad and an army of buffalo hunters who accomplished what no soldier could do — drive the starving plains Indians onto the reservations.

Red Cloud realized that he had once been a man of a certain place and time that no longer existed. He had not changed, but he had adapted, and unlike Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse and the others who continued the fight, he glimpsed the future. When Red Cloud fought to protect the lands of his people, he did so with amazing skill and ferocity. But when he finally signed the first peace paper, he buried his tomahawk with dignity and this truce was never broken (by him). Red Cloud understood that he, and his people, had been overcome by historical forces. CV

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