Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse: The Story of Leonard Peltier and the FBI's War on the American Indian Movement” as Want to Read:
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse: The Story of Leonard Peltier and the FBI's War on the American Indian Movement
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse: The Story of Leonard Peltier and the FBI's War on the American Indian Movement

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  2,470 ratings  ·  114 reviews
In 1975, a fatal shoot-out between FBI agents and American Indians resulted in the deaths of two agents and the imprisonment of Leonard Peltier, a member of the American Indian Movement, for murder. Behind this event lies a complex historical struggle between American Indians and the US government.
Audio CD, 29 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1983)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about In the Spirit of Crazy Horse

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Liz Muñoz
This book really affected me. It made me angry at the injustice that happened to these people. Mattiessen really did his research for this book. It's a detailed account of the incident at Wounded Knee in the 70's, AIM (American Indian Movement) and the trials that followed thereafter. Thankfully, the FBI lost in it's attempt to prevent this book from being published. It's an important book and we have the right to learn about the attrocities committed against the Native Americans. I feel strongl ...more
Free Leonard Peltier!


Well, you have to read this book, but here's a synopsis that nobody but the most diehard 1970s FBI defender can try to deny.

Matthiessen documents years of FBI spying on the American Indian Movement, including "turning" insiders, coupled with intimidation tactics and more. Often the FBI in South Dakota was working, if not hand in hand, at least on parallel tracks in this thuggery with folks such as a corrupt Pine Ridge Indian Reservation leadership, then-Attorney General
Sean Kottke
This saga of the conflict between the U.S. government and Native Americans picks up where Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee leaves off, and makes the critical point that as excellent as that earlier book is, contemporary readers might get a false sense of complacency from it, that we live in a more enlightened age and the struggles exist in the past. This book, which focuses mainly on the events surrounding the shootout on the Pine Ridge reservation in 1975 and the story of Leonard Peltier, serves a ...more
I read this book in 1992 as part of a graduate American Indian Law seminar conducted at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD) with Dr. Glenn Morris - the head of the Denver chapter of AIM as the instructor. It was one of more than several books used in the seminar but certainly for me one of the more memorable and influential. Also, the now infamous Dr. Ward Churchill was a guest instructor on several occasions.

He never represented himself as a Tribal member and although the courts have quest
I don't think you can hold the shortcomings of this book against Matthiessen. As with any complicated, partisan event, each perspective offers only one piece of the patchwork. And this is an important one, even if some of the information that's emerged since its publication challenges some of aspects of Peltier's defenders' arguments.

Nonetheless, the book is commendable for its examination of the renewed wars against Native Americans as the coal, oil and uranium under their lands became increasi
This is a lengthly and sobering account of the American Indian Movement in the 60's and 70's, and the continuing conflict between Native Americans and the U.S. Government. There are references to broken treaties between our government and Indian tribes, racism, and the poor conditions on Indian Reservations. The main element of the book concerns Leonard Pelteir, convicted of murdering two FBI agents on a reservation during a shoot-out between Native Americans and the FBI. Apparently, the publish ...more
Karis North
Detailed almost to the point of excrutiating, but overall excellent recitation of the events leading up to the killing of 2 FBI agents in Oglala, on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Matthiesen's research is painstaking, and once I realized how the book was organized it made sense and I could follow it (he hides his explanation in the notes for each section). The facts are incredibly convoluted, and there are so many layers to what happened. Matthiesen does a pretty good job of tryin to sort it all ou ...more
This is an important book, and I'm impressed with the amount of research and time Matthiessen put into it, and I think the story needed to be told. That said, I spent the vast majority of it wishing that an unbiased journalist would come shove him away from his computer, steal his notes, and take over writing the book for him. I agree with him on pretty much everything, but still he was so biased that he undermined his own point of view. At one point he actually argued that the fact that the mur ...more
I downloaded this book from Audible the week before Peter Mattiessen died, and listening to it when the obits came out. Then the NYTimes magazine ran an article about an investigation into the death of Anna Mae Aquash. The book had been on my "list" for along time,so that all reinforced my desire to read the book. I was not aware of the legal controversies surrounding the book, the eight years of suppression while Mattiessen and Viking, his publisher, were being sued for libel, first by the form ...more
Ted Diamond
There are so many good reviews of this book already, I hesitate to write another one. What can I bring to the table? Oh well, here goes.

In 1974, I happened to be in the right place, at the right time. Dee Brown's "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" had hit the bookshelves in 1970, and by 1974, eyes were opening to the history of injustice in the relations between whites and Native Americans. Our high school play that year was an original script based loosely on Brown's narrative. We studied the hist
If you want to learn about what the FBI did to the American Indian Movement in the 1960s and 1970s with COINTELPRO and you want to learn about the events that led to the wrongful imprisonment of Leonard Peltier, then read this book. We didn't stop oppressing and killing Indians in the 1800s...
John Senner
Wow. What a downer. The author has compiled interviews, transcripts, FOI documents on the war between the American Indian Movement (AIM) and in particular, Leonard Peltier and the US Gov in the form of the BIA and FBI. The short story is that a lot of evidence was fabricated to put Peltier into prison. Arkies will be pleased to know that Dee Brown had a minor mention of his role in favor of the Indians. This mostly takes place on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation southeast of the Black Hills, an ...more
This book recounts an almost unbelievable tale of corruption and serves as a good reminder of just how ineffective and horrifying the justice system becomes in the hands of people with political agendas. Sure, this account was biased, but it doesn't change the fact that a man was purposely railroaded and denied every ounce of fair treatment and the ability, through the withholding of evidence, for a fair trial. Nor does it seem that the actions taken against the American Indian Movement, however ...more
Pam Walter
An excellent retelling of the life of Leonard Peltier. The very grim lives of the Lakota Sioux Indians is documented from the second Wounded Knee incident, to the Shootout at Oglala, which the latter landed Leonard Peltier 2 consecutive life terms. Matthiessen has researched and very well documented this story, lending credence to AIM (American Indian Movement) and shedding light on the actions of the FBI, BIA and their GOONS (Gaurdians Of the Oglala Nation). Whether in fact Peltier, among other ...more
Nonfiction. Two words... Leonard Peltier. Two more words... Oglala Shoot-out. Two more words... FBI tampering. Enough said.
Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson
This is one of those great books that everyone should read. Matthiessen set out to write a book about Native American Spirituality but like everyone who comes into contact with the spirituality of indigenous people he found that the political and the spiritual are intertwined. I saw him give a talk at The Open Center in New York shortly after the book had become embroiled in lawsuits against the publisher Viking Press by the Governor of South Dakota and an FBI agent involved in the second stando ...more
Nicholas Sly
An engrossing but frustrating book. Make no mistake, this is not an unbiased account of the events on the plains Indian reservations in the 1970s. The account is heavily slanted towards making the Indians look like innocent victims trampled by the government and societal forces, including leaning too heavily on unverifiable stories and what amounts to conspiracy theories, and not always presenting 'the other side' or attempting to put together all the stories into a carefully documented account ...more
john nielsen boyack
Oct 16, 2013 john nielsen boyack rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all who honor and defend those people who live in the wisdom of Indian way
Recommended to john nielsen by: George Washington
Impressed by recent movement, I finally decided to finish this book. Rewarding, to say very little of its impact to me personally, and its impact on the American Public. The first several chapters are so painful to read if one holds even an ounce of empathy for the indigenous tribes of this continent, particularly under what I'll simply call the "jurisdiction", or care, of the ever-powerful United States Government. Read it, then

Just a few, short quotes to share, althou
This was a really tough option to listen to on audiobook. All of the names, dates, and details got rather muddled in my mind I fear. The narrative arch is very indepth as it explores the historical and sociological causes of clashes between the FBI and American Indian populations. Clashes is really too mild a word - it was really all out war. I've never been much of a conspiracy theorist, but I will admit that after reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, I truly ...more
Jenni Wieland
Ok, this is kind of a tough read. A comprehensive report primarily from the Native perspective on the entire history of the American government's dealings with the Sioux nation, this book was actually held up in legal battles for 8 years because of what it reveals about the FBI, BIA and our nation's other history...

I have to admit, it took me ages to finish-- I get mired down by moment-by-moment accounts of action and legal cases involving the FBI, but as relatively one-sided as this telling is
Siobhan Noble
picked up this book after enjoying Mathiessen's book "The Snow Leopard" and was instantly hooked. Mathiessen's abilities as a writer and a storyteller make this huge book a fascinating page-turner. The book will draw you into the incident at Oglala, and will raise your consciousness about issues affecting American Indians, especially the Lakota Indians. After reading this book, I feel I'm a changed person.

I know Mathiessen has been accused of being biased towards the Indian cause, but I think
Suzanne Arcand
How one talk about a book that is so bias and so necessary? The author Peter Matthiessen does not pretend to be objective but admits up front that this book was written to right a grievous injustice.

An injustice that didn’t start with the incident in Oglala in which three people were killed, an Indian and two FBI agents who were shot at close range, and of whose death Leonard Peltier has been held responsible and for which he is still doing time.

While this incident and the “frame up” of Leonard
Suzanne Arcand
How one talk about a book that is so bias and so necessary? The author Peter Matthiessen does not pretend to be objective but admits up front that this book was written to right a grievous injustice.

An injustice that didn’t start with the incident in Oglala in which three people were killed, an Indian and two FBI agents who were shot at close range, and of whose death Leonard Peltier has been held responsible and for which he is still doing time.

While this incident and the “frame up” of Leonard
Sterling Mosher
I love reading and always love learning the history of things, especially groups of people. I have not done much research on the Native Americans, and this book gave me the opportunity to finally do so.
This book was not what I expected at all. It was far more. I learned so much from this book, an incredible amount of information that you cannot find in text books in schools. I will admit that the massive amount of facts and history had me confused and I skipped around a bit, as well as having to
Quite simply, one of the most impacting, most rebellion affirming works of literature I have ever delved into. It lays out the wholly convincing argument that what happened on that summer day in Oglala, 1975, was not simply a local skirmish but an eruption of violence caused by decades upon decades of genocide and the resultant pent-up rage. Matthiessen is showing how we cannot separate ourselves from history so easily. We must always reckon with it, and to ignore it is only to cause our downfal ...more
Mathiessen is a tremendous writer. The first couple hundred pages encapsulates quite a bit of First Nation history. The approach is very holistic. He considers the spiritual consequences of conquest as well as the economical and ecological patterns that have proven manifest. I believe any person who has read and appreciated Wallace Stegner's essays concerning the western states, will find the first two hundred pages of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse well worth the time and effort. The critical acc ...more
Just so much here. A remarkably detailed account of the men and women who stood up for traditional American Indian rights and the great efforts of the Federal and Local governments to tear them down and throw them away.

A powerful tale of a history that is left untold in the great majority of this country, yet should be so central to an understanding of where this land came from and what is being done to it by whom. Matthiessen peels back a thick veneer of violent and racist narrative to expose a
Jeff Daiell
Step-by-step, you follow the victimization of the American Indians persecuted by an over-bearing, out-of-control Federal Government. It really brings home the point that giving power to the central government is a bad, bad idea. As Russell Means put it, all of America is rapidly becoming a giant reservation. Give this books to friends before they vote.

Jeff Daiell
Chris Thorsrud
Matthiessen does a thorough job interweaving both Wounded Knee events, about 80 years apart. This should be included on high school and college reading lists, as well as read by anyone interested in history that goes deeper than the basics, many times erroneous, presented as fact.
Farrell Yancy
An extraordinary telling of the story of Leonard Peltier from a compassionate writer. A new look at the modern American Indian Movement and its war with the FBI. Will make you want to go to war with the Lakota against our government.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Where White Men Fear to Tread: The Autobiography of Russell Means
  • The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History
  • Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance
  • Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation
  • Native American Testimony: A Chronicle of Indian-White Relations from Prophecy to the Present
  • Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto
  • The Killing of Crazy Horse
  • Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas
  • The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull
  • Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World
  • The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America
  • 500 Nations: An Illustrated History of North American Indians
  • The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions
  • Black Elk: The Sacred Ways of a Lakota
  • A Sorrow in Our Heart: The Life of Tecumseh
  • Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions
  • Lakota Woman
  • The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk's Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux
Peter Matthiessen is the author of more than thirty books and the only writer to win the National Book Award for both non-fiction (The Snow Leopard, in two categories, in 1979 and 1980) and fiction (Shadow Country, in 2008). A co-founder of The Paris Review and a world-renowned naturalist, explorer and activist, he died in April 2014.
More about Peter Matthiessen...
The Snow Leopard Shadow Country At Play in the Fields of the Lord In Paradise Killing Mister Watson

Share This Book

“After four hundred years of betrayals and excuses, Indians recognize the new fashion in racism, which is to pretend that the real Indians are all gone.” 0 likes
“The white man, as one Indian said, “was in the Black Hills just like maggots”;10 wasicu, or “the greedy one” (literally, “he-who-takes-the-fat”),11 was the term the Lakota used to describe the miners, and it later became their term for whites in general. “The love of possessions is a disease with them,” said Sitting Bull, who was never behindhand in his contempt.” 0 likes
More quotes…