Friday, August 20, 2021

Killing Crazy Horse: The Merciless Indian Wars in America - Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard


Killing Crazy Horse: The Merciless Indian Wars in America
is the ninth of eleven books that currently make up the “Killing Series” co-authored by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. It’s the first book in the series since the very first one, Killing Lincoln, that I’ve read but my general impressions of the two books are similar. Both of the books present a good introduction to the subject at hand, but neither of them explore the topic in any real depth. This is particularly true for Killing Crazy Horse, a book that attempts to cover a volatile stretch of American history encompassing something like seventy-five years in so few pages.


The word “merciless” as used in the book’s subtitle most definitely applies to both sides. Mercy from the enemy was not something either side expected or was prepared to grant. Massacres of helpless Indian villages were as common as the massacre and torture groups of settlers that had gathered together in larger numbers for self-protection. Scalping and other corpse-mutilation was practiced by both the Indians being chased and by the American army trying to wipe them off the face of the entire continent. Mercy was rare, if it existed at all. 


“Indian Fighters” were some of America’s first national celebrities, and a few of them even rode their newfound fame all the way to the presidency of the United States. And once in the White House, these same presidents pressed even harder to annihilate the only ways of life that Native Americans had ever known. Starving them to death, walking them to death, shooting and stabbing women and their children to death by the hundreds…nothing was off the table. Westward expansion was the new goal, the availability of so much “free land” was impossible to resist, and the discovery of gold was the icing on the cake. In the minds of too many, especially those in charge of American policy toward the Indians, the ends most certainly justified the means. Morality be damned.


Bottom Line: Killing Crazy Horse is a very good primer for readers wanting an overview of America’s nineteenth century Indian wars. As such, it will serve as a good jumping off spot for those wanting to explore some of what they read here in more depth. 

14 comments:

  1. I think I'd want something more in depth. I already feel like I know the basics, you know?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I didn't notice the subtitle to this one before I started reading it or I probably wouldn't have chose it at all. It really doesn't have enough pages to go deeply into any of what it describes here. It would have taken several volumes to really live up to the promise of the subtitle.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Do you think we've changed at all, Sam? I wish we had but I look around the world and I see plenty of virtuous talk and posturing but precious little in the way of 'actual' mercy or common sense... as you pointed out... on either side of any of the multitude of arguments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I really don't, Cath. It makes me terribly sad to say that out loud but everything I've seen in the last few days confirms my suspicions that we have not changed enough to make any kind of real difference. Human nature and its tribalism dismays me, and the utter incompetency of the American president and the people around me is stunningly astounding.

      Delete
  4. My interest in history is not quite as deep as yours (or my husband's, he reads a lot about ancient Rome, Ur, etc) but I do like learning about native cultures, however I think I would just find this book depressing. Or it would anger me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lot of both, as it turns out, Jeane. This was probably not the week to be reading a book on this topic. It too closely reflects what is going on even now.

      Delete
  5. I must confess my negative opinion of the authors of this book would keep me from ever picking it up. I prefer to read history written by real historians.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I share your opinion of O'Reilly, but I didn't really take the time to learn much about Dugard. I didn't expect a lot of depth from the book, but was hoping to learn more about the American Indian cultures than I did. It's a competent overview of the so-called Indian Wars, but it is really not much more than a roadmap to further, more historian-like reading.

      Delete
  6. Hi Sam, Haven't read Killing Crazy Horse but as you say as long as it's competent and factual than it serves its purpose as an Introduction to an important period in American history. Because people can always go deeper into a topic with further history books as long as the Introductory book doesn't set you off course with misinformation. So Killing Crazy Horse might be a good Intro.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It vouches with everything I know on the topic already, but I didn't learn a lot of new facts from it. Too, it doesn't spend a lot of time on the "whys" of this part of history other than to give a basic outline of each side's motivations. What it did to is motivate me to get my hands on a bunch of other books on the topic...and I have.

      Delete
  7. I got to pass on books by O'Reilly though I don't know about Dugard. I'm curious about Crazy Horse and have read a bit about the Battle of Little Bighorn. I'm glad you found it worthwhile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dugard, from what I understand is the researcher and O'Reilly does the bulk of the writing. I'm not a fan of O'Reilly at all, but some of his "killing books" are interesting enough to get me to take a look at them even if this is only the second one I've read. I think it's more the Middle School level of history books than anything else, but as I ended up with a handful of related topics I want to learn more about now.

      Delete
  8. I'm glad you enjoyed this one but, I have to agree with Dorothy. I don't read too much history but, when I do it written by a real historian.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely, Diane...nothing "new" in this one, but it reminded me of a lot of things I already knew and that helped me decide which subtopics to explore more deeply when I have the time.

      Delete