It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village

The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers

You've probably heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child.  In The Killing of Crazy Horse, Thomas Powers shows how it takes one to kill one, too.

Not that Crazy Horse was a child, or everyone involved in his death was in his village, but what I mean is this: Powers shows how intricate the events were that led to Crazy Horse's death, and how many people were involved -- directly and indirectly -- in bringing it to bear.

It's an intricate biography, one that follows many different people's actions and movements throughout the years, not just Crazy Horse's but also those of the main players who were there or involved when he was killed.  Every time Powers introduces someone else, he inevitably jumps back to their history and how they became involved in the Indian Wars and Crazy Horse.  This makes for a lot of jumping around, and a very convoluted (not necessarily linear) story, but eventually you see why: Powers is trying to establish the character of each man involved, to better demonstrate how each one fits into the puzzle.

Finally the book gets around to giving a thorough description of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and by the time you get there you feel like you've been waiting for it like a child waiting for Christmas.  The rest of the book, the events leading up to Crazy Horse's death, are very drawn-out, too -- it's tough knowing what's coming, and seeing all the missed opportunities to change it.

I've always been fascinated with Crazy Horse's story, but Powers brings it to life like nothing I'd ever read before.  What he's done differently is to paint a picture of not just Crazy Horse himself, but also of all the movers and shakers who surround him -- American military leaders and scouts, as well as some of his own people.  The Killing of Crazy Horse is an amazing book, and though it's a lengthy one, it's also one you won't regret reading.