Book Review: In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
By Peter Matthiessen

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Second release, after 10 years of legal maneuvers which surpressed it almost immediately after it came out in early 1983. Back then, you could have bought the hardcover for $20.95--about the price of the paperback, today.

As for me, I read it at someone's house (on the Lac courte Oreilles rez) and was waiting for the more affordable paperback--when in early 1983, just after the hardcover had come out, Viking Press, Matthiessen, and some booksellers were sued by then-South Dakota governor William Janklow, a minor character, for $24 million. (libel). In January, 1984, Matthiessen, the publisher, and Peltier's then-attorney Bruce Ellison, of Rapid city, SD, were sued by FBI special agent David A. Price, for $25 million. The publishers withdrew the hardcover, the softcover nver came out.

I later paid a rare bookdealer $150 to find me a copy of the hardcover. It wasn't that difficult. He found many copies being dumped by libraries--apparently a lot of libraries were afraid of being sued, so they deaccessioned the finely-bound, plastic-protected hardcovers onto the used book market. So unless you'd bought it quick, or paid a lot as I did, later, for 10 years this history was not available to anyone. It is interesting that the University of Minnesota library, for example, has the new release, but not the original one.

So this powerful book, which withstood what was obviously an FBI-financed lawsuit by its defense of truth, was not available to build support for Peltier's release for 10 years. Supporters made do with what they could afford to print in amateur ways (this was before computers, laser printers, desktop publishing). The Indian press (not of very big circulation) of course carried stories, mostly of how yet another legal appeal for Peltier had failed again in the U.S. high courts, yet another small demo was being held somewhere. Yet another benefit to raise legal support cash. Of course this type of activity, well, that's still going on, because he's still a prisoner.

Insert book review here--transcribe the one Leonard wrote for either Notes or News from Indian country, if can find.

Here's MY review meanwhile: Never mind reviews. You go down to your friendly neighborhood bookstore or campus bookstore and order this book right now! Or buy it if by some chance you should find it on the shelf (probably you won't). Surpressed for 10 years by government-funded lawsuits against the publisher--Viking--this is a part of Native history that no native person, or sympathetic non-Indian should be without. Buy it, read it. Get copies for your school library. Insist it be used as a text in Native American Studies college courses. Give copies to your friends and relatives.

That's my review.

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Page prepared by Paula Giese copyright 1995.

Last updated: Sunday, July 09, 1995 - 7:37:05 AM