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Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo
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Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  77 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Twenty years after publishing his groundbreaking The Spirit and the Flesh, anthropologist Walter L. Williams breaks his silence and publishes another book on Native Americans by teaming up with award-winning writer Toby Johnson. Together they have produced a work of historical fiction that is striking in its evocation of Navajo philosophy and spirituality. Set in the Civil ...more
Paperback, 332 pages
Published June 12th 2005 by Lethe Press (first published June 10th 2005)
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I admit it, I've re-read this book about three or four times, and will probably do so in the future. It is a stunning story and I was fascinated by the understanding of "Two Spirit" people within the Navajo and other cultures. It is definitely a book that touched my soul. Not only is it extraordinarily well written and documented, but it has an ingenuity, an innocence if you will, that is so difficult to find in novels.

I enjoyed the use of myth, symbolism and ritual in this story, the esoterici
Cole Riann
Originally penned by Walter L. Williams as the journal entries of fictional character Will Lee, Two Spirits is the tale of one man, one two-spirit male, and the whole population of Navajo that for several years, were forced to live on the Bosque-Redondo Reservation, an “experiement” by the US Government that was essentially one of the steps in the slow genocide of the largest indigenous American tribe in history. The story follows Will Lee, the son of a Virginian preacher, who after taking fligh ...more
When I read this story, I took the description of Navajo life with a grain of salt. I didn't know how much liberty the author had taken, or if the descriptions were very accurate. I had before heard about Two Spirits and that the Native American's are said to have been more accepting towards transgenders and homosexuality.

I thought the story started a little bit slow, and that it took a while to get to the more interesting part of the story. I wasn't interested in Will's life before arriving to
Gerry Burnie
This is a novel that admirably fits the category of ‘historical fiction’.

The history: Set in the rugged Territory of New Mexico in the 1860s, it tells the story of a tender love that blooms against a backdrop of shame, cruelty, corruption and death.

In 1864 twelve thousand Navajo (Diné) were forced to march from their homeland in Canyon de Chelly (now Nevada) to Bosque Redondo Reserve outside Fort Sumner; a distance of 325 miles in the dead of winter. More than three thousand individuals died en-
Lee Rowan
I had looked forward to reading this book, and it was a terrific disappointment. The scholarship may have been top-notch, but academic credentials do not necessarily give a writer the chops to make a story interesting.
Elisa Rolle
When I was a teen I was deeply fascinated by the Native American culture. Two of my favorite books were Dee Brown's Buy My Heart at Wounded Knee (that I searched for a bit since when I was young the Italian version of that book was out of stock) and a book who tried to tell from a different point of view the spanish "Conquest", and for this reason the title was 2941 (1492 on the other verse). Unfortunately they were never light books, since it's not easy to write of the Native Americans and be l ...more
The premise is intriguing and the writing is competent. But the story is simplistic and the progression of the storyline amateurish. I also felt there was too much explaining, verging on preachy. The characters are portrayed in a simplistic way, and without too much depth. As a result, their motivations and perspectives seemed flat. For instance, some older men to appear to simply leer at Will as dirty old men would, a rather boring stereotype. Other inconsistencies distracted, e.g., if Will is ...more
The writing was mediocre. There were quite a few typographical errors throughout the book that should have been edited out, and I just didn't find myself connecting with either of the two main characters. They weren't very memorable to me.

I found the stress on the mysticism of the Native American people to be really heavy handed and awkward, especially in a scene towards the end. I thought it was just kind of convenient prop that was used to bring the very predictable plot to conclusion.
This was one of the finest historical fiction novels I have ever read. It had the perfect blend of historical setting and detail, but with a strong plot that included racism, corruption, and (of course) love. I would recommend it to any reader (gay, straight, trans, whatever) who loves historical fiction.
Sad. A look at the darker side of American history.
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Professor of Anthropology, Gender Studies and History

Research Specialities: (Ph.D. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1974) American Indian ethnohistory; American Civil War-Reconstruction; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender history; history of Indonesia and Thailand.


For complete biography, see
More about Walter L. Williams...
The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture Javanese Lives: Women and Men in Modern Indonesian Society Southeastern Indians Since the Removal Era Gay and Lesbian Rights in the United States: A Documentary History Spirit of the Pacific

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