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Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,287 ratings  ·  99 reviews
Crazy Horse, the military leader of the Oglala Sioux whose personal power and social nonconformity set him off as "strange," fought in many famous battles, including the one at the Little Bighorn. He held out boldly against the government's efforts to confine the Sioux on reservations. Finally, in the spring of 1877 he surrendered, one of the last important chiefs to do
Paperback, 428 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Bison Books (first published 1942)
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Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book about a hero of the Native Americans who faced impossible odds and stood with dignity and strength. Three elements made this one of the best books I have ever read:
-- The spiritual and natural aspect of how Crazy Horse and his people read the signs gave to the Universe. I will always hold a copy of this book to hope to understand the ways of them. The language is amazing.
-- The history of how the expansion of settlers over the West was met by the tribes. And the political
Curtis Seven
May 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is actually a significant book in a number of ways because on some topics it is the closest thing we have to original source material on the Sioux viewpoint of the wars. I'd recommend reading the into which spells out some of the books strengths and deficiencies but essentially it is as though a verbal history had been turned to print. Thus it is not short of opinion some of which is not objective nevertheless this author was able to interview and collect materials from people much closer ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
So much has been written about Crazy Horse, but none with the provenance of this book. Ms. Sandoz grew up near the Sioux who knew Crazy Horse or whose relatives knew him. As a result, her book is generally recognized as the closest to the truth about Crazy Horse as we can get.

The author uses the voice of an omniscient Native American narrator to tell the story. Please note that the narrator tells the story as many Native Americans would. The pace is slow, Native American descriptors are used
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Copied review from Kirkus:


"The author of Old Jules turns again to biography, this time in the saga of a great Indian leader, Crazy Horse. His life encompasses the bitter period of the Sioux Wars, which culminated at Little Big Horn. Brought up on tales and legends surrounding him, she finally felt compelled to trace them to their sources, and from that long research job, this book emerges. It is a book that stands as a monument to white stupidity -- and cupidity --and
Barbara Cadwell
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After commencing an in-depth study of Native American Tribes on the eastern seaboard and reading west, I crossed paths with the Lakotah Sioux and Crazy Horse in a hardcover book by Mari Sandoz, 'Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas.' Although the armchair journey ended here, I continued studying the Sioux.
Sensed in words just so, Sandoz illumined the shadow side of Crazy Horse. In this specific lifetime, he participated significantly in the defeat of Custer in the Battle of the Little Big
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
i cannot recommend this book strongly enough. it was easily my favorite read of the past year. sandoz tells the story of crazy horse in a comprehensive, complex, and extremely accessible way. i have read several smaller biograhical pieces on crazy horse and most of them have had little impact on me. carzy horse is to the lakotas much like the historical jesus is to christians, a life loaded with actual remarkable events, mythology, and faith... so, the telling of his story is tricky business. ...more
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a book written from the viewpoint of the Indians. The author interviewed people who knew Crazy Horse and seemed to have gotten a clear understanding of his views and those of others surrounding him at the time. There were some white men who accepted the ways of the Indians and who even took native wives. However, many of the members of the Calvary came expecting to drive the Indians out of the places they had always lived. They decided that Red Cloud should be the chief with whom they ...more
Sherry Sharpnack
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Every Nebraskan should have read at least one work of Mari Sandoz, so I finally got around to reading “Crazy Horse,” her biography of the strange Lakota warrior who defeated Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in June, 1876.

Ms. Sandoz wrote the story of Crazy Horse, called Curly as a child b/c of his lighter-colored hair and eyes compared to other Lakota, in a style that would resemble the story-telling of the Sioux, so it isn’t straightforward, but sometimes, almost rambling. That took
Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mari Sandoz grew up in the Sandhills of northwestern Nebraska. Her father, Old Jules, was an original pioneer, who arrived in the area at the tail end of the wars with the Plains Indians (he rode to the Wounded Knee massacre site the day after when he heard the news He was appalled). Old Jules was acquainted with some of the Natives, and Mari grew up in a household hearing the old stories.

In this book, Sandoz tells the story of Crazy Horse, and she does so with great literary effect. In prose
Nov 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is interesting because of the way it's told. It reads much like a novel would read. It's related from an Indian omniscient point of view. In other words you feel as if a Native American were sitting down recounting the tale. During the story we see Crazy Horse grow from a young boy called Curly hanging around his warrior friend Hump to a mighty warrior brave in battle. Sadly as most people know his people endured many hardships and many broken promises made by soldiers representing the ...more
Feb 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
Sooo disappointing. I had very high expectations for this book because I heard it was one of the best biographies of all time. It is the story of the famous Indian Chief, Crazy Horse, published in 1942 by Mari Sandoz. She tells the story from the "Indian" perspective and that is a good part of the problem. So much of it seemed contrived and unnecessarily wordy and akwardly written because she persisted in using "Indian" language, i.e., "In the month of Calves Sprouting Hair on their Legs, June, ...more
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Initially I was apprehensive about reading the book when the introduction described the author's writing style as being similar to the way a native storyteller might relate a saga around a campfire. However I soon got past my fear and found the text gave me a much better understanding of the way that the Native Americans of the Plains viewed the world and their place in it. It is one thing to read even the very best white author's thoroughly researched and well written nonfiction biography or ...more
Petter Nordal
Nov 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is an awesome history of the life of Crazy Horse. Sandoz not only researched historical documents exhaustively, but she also interviewed a great number of surviving participants, people who knew Crazy Horse. Also she did something which i feel more historians should do: she visited every place, every physical location, every peice of land upon which the events took place. I think all these extra efforts show up because by meeting people and going to places, we make connections which are not ...more
J Haeske
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Rightly is regarded as one of the outstanding books on Native American culture and history, it is the brilliantly told story not only of Crazy Horse but of his people. Together with all extra material found in this edition of the book originally published in 1942 it is unmissible if you want to learn about that period of time and the area of the Western US.
William Graney
May 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Completing this journey was a long, slow process, and a bit of a grind. I'm glad I stuck with it because in the end, the legend of Crazy Horse resonated with me and I'll remember his saga for the rest of my life.
Introduction to the 50th Anniversary Edition and Notes

--Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas

White-Man Chronology

Sally Atwell Williams
CRAZY HORSE was originally published in 1942. Mari Sandoz - 1896-1966 - wove a fascinating story of Crazy Horse, through talking with those elders still alive at the time who knew Crazy Horse. She also studied all the interviews taken in 1906 and in 1930-31, from those knowledgeable about the times Crazy Horse lived. Some even remembered how he was killed. She went to libraries, court houses, read manuscripts, and on and on. And these are documented in the back of the book. This book is the ...more
Ginger Stephens
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge admirer of Crazy Horse. This book is most interesting and enlightening. It reinforces my string admiration of Crazy Horse. He is a rarity among Native Americans. The story is a mix of sadness and admiration. As an example, when Crazy Horse rode into the Red Cloud Agency, the US Army officer noted that it was a "triumphal march, not a surrender."

The are people and places that appear better than I expected: Three Stars (General Crook), Sitting Bull, and Grandmother's Land (Canada ruled
Sophia Ramos
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
FINALLY! As in finally, I finished this book after four long months of frustration with it. I picked it up after visiting the rip-off that is Crazy Horse Mountain, a half-century-long endeavor to carve the great hero's face into the side of a granite mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I wanted to know the story behind the man and understand why he was chosen to represent the Indian Nation in such a permanent way. The best thing I got out of this story was a very...vague respect for ...more
Mar 02, 2011 rated it liked it
You can't knock Sandoz on her exhaustive research of her subject, but the density of the information presented sometimes detracts from the story lying behind the chronology of battles, hunts, and encampments (I didn't really need to know about EVERY coup he counted against EVERY enemy). That said, however, she certainly did the memory of this great man justice by retelling his life story through his own eyes...which allows us a much more empathetic understanding of the abject inhumanity the ...more
Dave Sidney
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really enfoyed this book even tho I knew the ending. It is the stroy of the native American embodied in the life of one remarkable man.

It was published in 1942 and based on conversations with Indians who had first hand knowlege of Crazy Horse plus other research.

I struggled with the style of writing but I think she was writing in the way the Indians conveyed their oral tradition.

Interesting things I didn't know: Braves could have more than one wife and women had the protected right to leave
Sharon Pywell
Oct 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Mari Sandoz was one of the last literate people on earth to interview members of Crazy Horse's tribe. And she interviewed them in Lakota. . .so sometimes the prose sounds odd, but that's just her trying to let us hear the speakers as they spoke. I was talking to a curator who specialized in Sioux war shirts and we exchanged the earliest dates we got a little obsessed with the Sioux (He was eight, I was nine). I told him the book that did it to me was this one of Sandor's and he said, "Oh, yes. I ...more
Oct 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
A great perspective on the oral traditions of a great people -- the Sioux, and all of their complexities. Sandoz shows a time of great transition and cultural upheaval. Though not a scholarly work by today's standards, Sandoz clearly had access to people who survived the darkest of times, and still remembered thte the brighter days, and trusted her to tell the story, if not completely accurately, at least with respect to their traditions and their voice. Truly sad that I had not ever been ...more
Jul 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to William by: Mom
The is one of the best biographies I have ever read period, not only because of the detailed presentation of life and charachter that is achieved, but because it captures the Lakotah voice and point of view. I learned that when this book was first released in 1930 (or thereabouts) it was widely dismissed and only recently has come into its own. The story of the Sioux Lakotah is unbelievably harsh and this book allows the reader to really experience the events from the Native American ...more
Error Theorist
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you don't read this book, your life will not be complete; yea, it's one of those. The prose is fantastic; possibly the best I've ever read by an American writer. Sandoz seems to have successfully melded a modernist style with an obviously Oglala narratorial voice. The history seems rather accurate, and completely based on the Oglala point of view. The story is extremely moving. You empathize with the displaced native people; and I think that was what Mari Sandoz aimed for when writing this ...more
Emily Rinck
This is a wonderful book. I started lightening my considerable load of books when I went back to school a few years ago. Not only did I keep this one, I took it with me. I then had to jettison almost everything when I moved to New York City, and I had to get rid of it then. But it's the kind of book I'll probably come back to occasionally. Two things I really appreciated about it: 1. The writing is beautiful. It reads like a novel. 2. This was the first book, I think, that gave me a real sense ...more
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book follows Crazy Horse, the infamous leader in the Battle of Little Bighorn. (Though the book discusses way more than just the Battle) The book covers his entire life from childhood, all the way through the end. The story is one of controversy, of love, of leadership, and what it meant to be a Native American at the time.

More about this book can be found on my blog:
Youngblood Hawke
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Of all the books about the history of the American west and the events and clashes between the Indians and the settlers and U.S. Army this is by far the best. The author was raised on a farm near a Souix reservation in the early 20th century and, as a child, became friends with an old man on the reservation who was once Crazy Horse's best friend. She hear the story first hand from a man who had been there. If you're a history buff this is a must read.
Paul Pellicci
Nov 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I really liked this book. The story of Crazy Horse mirrors the stories of other great leaders cut down by those close to them. Those who envied or feared them. Caesar, Jesus, and countless others unknown.

Crazy Horse believed he was protected by a greater power. A vision from God. He faced the enemy often, fearlessly, and when he defeated the 7th Calvary at little big horn, it changed him life forever...very sad ending.
Jul 16, 2007 rated it liked it
I'm probably not the target audience for this book. What IS the target audience anyway? My guess is that Sandoz did not actually write with any one reader in mind, choosing to focus instead on relating the life of Crazy Horse with as much authenticity as possible--authenticity as distinct from but without detriment to accuracy. Hence the tone of an oral history, and idiosyncrasies of language that are meant to reflect the Lakota way of speaking.

Whatever, this story is awesome!
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Mari Susette Sandoz (May 11, 1896 – March 10, 1966) was a novelist, biographer, lecturer, and teacher. She was one of Nebraska's foremost writers, and wrote extensively about pioneer life and the Plains Indians.