Friday, January 3, 2014

The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

The Heart of Everything That Is:  The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin - 432 pages

The Heart of Everything That Is tells the story of a lesser known, but very important, Native American chief. Red Cloud was a Oglala Sioux chief and warrior leader. In his youth, Red Cloud participated in raids against the Americans. As a middle-aged man, he planned and led full-scale military actions against settlers and army posts, most notably in the Power River Country against Fort Phil Kearney and it's commander. As part of these roles, we see how Red Cloud rose to his position and worked with other chiefs and warriors, including the more famous Crazy Horse. In his later life, Red Cloud sued for peace. As a counterpoint, we see how the Americans responded to Red Cloud's actions. These included building additional forts to protect the Bozeman Trail that ran through the Powder River Valley; sending soldiers inexperienced with Indian fighting Westward; generals who did not fully comprehend the situation and left local commanders with little room to act as situations arose; and settlers who took their changes, often to ill-fated results. 

Overall, I found the book to be well-researched and a good overview of the Native American situation in general in addition to its aim. The first few chapters recount the early United States responses to the situation and their effects, including how the tribes were pushed further west causing conflict inter-tribal conflicts. This is then used to springboard into Red Cloud's life as it was also conflict filled. 

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