The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
The acclaimed New York Times best-selling biography of the legendary Sioux warrior Red Cloud: “a page-turner with remarkable immediacy...and the narrative sweep of a great Western” (The Boston Globe).
Red Cloud was the only American Indian in history to defeat the United States Army in a war, forcing the government to sue for peace on his terms. At the peak of Red Cloud’s powers the Sioux could claim control of one-fifth of the contiguous United States and the loyalty of thousands of fierce fighters. But the fog of history has left Red Cloud strangely obscured. Now, thanks to the rediscovery of a lost autobiography, and painstaking research by two award-winning authors, the story of the 19th century’s most powerful and successful Indian warrior can finally be told.
In The Heart of Everything That Is, Bob Drury and Tom Clavin restore Red Cloud to his rightful place in American history in a sweeping and dramatic narrative based on years of primary research. As they trace the events leading to Red Cloud’s War, they provide intimate portraits of the many lives Red Cloud touched - mountain men such as Jim Bridger; US generals like William Tecumseh Sherman, who were charged with annihilating the Sioux; fearless explorers, such as the dashing John Bozeman; and the memorable warriors whom Red Cloud groomed, like the legendary Crazy Horse. And at the center of the story is Red Cloud, fighting for the very existence of the Indian way of life.
“Unabashed, unbiased, and disturbingly honest, leaving no razor-sharp arrowhead unturned, no rifle trigger unpulled....a compelling and fiery narrative” (USA Today), this is the definitive chronicle of the conflict between an expanding white civilization and the Plains Indians who stood in its way.
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 5 minutes|
|Author||Bob Drury, Tom Clavin|
|Audible.com Release Date||November 05, 2013|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #7,563 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#11 in Native American History (Audible Books & Originals)
#20 in Native American Biographies
#21 in US State & Local History
Reviewed in the United States on April 23, 2018
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A lot of things contributed to the all out war against the U.S. Army. The dribble of white settlers heading west became a flood of wagons after gold was discovered in California. Also the wholesale killing of the buffalos and the spreading of diseases that Indians had no immunity for didn't set well with the Great Plains tribes. During the mid 1860s, the white man would reduce the buffalo population from 30 million to 1,000 in the next forty years. The buffalo meat was important to the Indians, but worthless to the white man. Broken treaties and conniving Indian Agents added fuel to the fire. In 1856 all the tribes of Lakota met to form united front to stop the white threat. It is said that 10,000 Indians attended that meeting. The Lakota Indians are not farmers, nor do they stay in one place long. They are raiders of other Indian tribes, horse stealers, and buffalo hunters. They only tolerated the Cheyenne. The Lakota believe they are warriors and want to stay that way. They take pride in Counting Coup (touching an enemy with a coup stick during battle and leaving unharmed). They heavily attacked white wagons heading west with one wagon out of eleven never making it passed the Rockies. Things got worse for the pioneers in the west when the U.S. Army left the Great Plains to fight the Civil War in 1861.
After the Civil War, many soldiers were released from duty, leaving very few to defend Fort Reno, Fort Phil Kearny, and Fort C.F. Smith, which were there to protect the migration of the Easterners, who were following the Bozeman Trail to Virginia City, Montana and then to the Oregon Trail . The U.S. Army was heavily outnumbered and were slaughtered and mutilated on many occasions. Red Cloud's battle with Captain Fetterman's 2nd Battalion of the 18th Infantry Regiment is epic. I thought the savagery of the book was a bit too much, but I guess the authors wanted to tell it like it was. The sidebar characters were strong. I enjoyed the Mountain man, Jim `Old Gabe' Bridger, a friend of the famous, Jedediah Smith. I admired the tactics Crazy Horse used to lure the U.S. Army into ambushes. Most of Red Cloud's thoughts were conveyed to a French Canadian fur trader named Sam Deon, who did the great chief's autobiography. Sam Deon was probably the only white man who was befriended and protected by Red Cloud. Some of the incidents in this book inspired other novels; such as, Nelson Gile, who drove a herd of 3,000 longhorns and a wagon train from Texas to Montana, while fighting thousands of hostile Indians. This episode became Larry McMurtry's famous novel, 'Lonesome Dove' .
Finally, I thought the authors slightly favored the Lakota (whose favorite meal was boiled dog and buffalo tongue), but in retrospect, I guess the book was fair. The White man might of won the West, but he paid dearly for it in human life. This was a non-fiction history book, but Drury and Clavin put so much excitement in the chapters that I thought I was reading fiction. And that is exactly how I like to read history. This book is a must for the Wild West fans and history buffs. I highly recommend this enlightening narrative.
Drury and Clavin strive to present a straightforward, unvarnished look at their subjects and push back against the idea that before protracted contact with whites, Native Americans lived as idyllic pacifists. Tribes had allies and enemies and some of them were very comfortable inflicting violence against the latter. Red Cloud was brought up among his mother's people, the Oglala Lakota, one of the more aggressive branches of the greater Lakota nation, and was groomed for leadership by his mother's uncle. As he grew up, his people were pushed farther and farther from their traditional territory and he fought against enemy tribes in his youth, gaining renown, before turning his attention to the threats posed by the continually promise-breaking whites.
After a series of skirmishes, things came to a head at Fort Phil Kearney. It was a perfect storm: angry at yet another incursion into their land, the Lakota were able to ally with other tribes. The leadership at the fort was both arrogant and foolhardy. Red Cloud was a smarter tactician than his opponents. And the United States was forced to retreat, to abandon its forts. But it lasted less than a decade. The book covers the immediate aftermath of the battle, but only touches on the long run: Red Cloud, taking a trip to Washington, DC, realized the scale of the threat to his people and the ultimate hopelessness of continuing the fight, and led those that would follow him onto the reservation.
Pretty much any book about Native American history is inevitably compared to Dee Brown's Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee simply because of that book's prominence. And I'd say this book is an excellent companion. It doesn't have, and honestly doesn't try for, the scope of Bury of My Heart, which covers more tribes over a longer time period. Instead, it takes a little known episode (I'd never heard of the Fetterman Fight) and explains it, placing its people and events into a larger context. And the book succeeds at this task, developing not only Red Cloud and to a lesser extent, his young protege Crazy Horse, as compelling and sympathetic characters, but also presenting the life of the Army fort, populated not just with soldiers but with families. No one is a cardboard cutout villain.
That being said, this book does occasionally get a little dry. I know some people are fascinated with military history and can happily read about tactics and battles for hours, but I am not one of those people. I find it deeply boring to read about attack techniques, and so I did experience waning interest when I think I was supposed to be the most engaged, during the climactic battle itself. I also found myself wanting more of the aftermath, more of Red Cloud's long life after this particular point. Overall, though, it's an interesting look at a part of history that's not well-understood by most potential readers, and I'd definitely recommend it as a way of broadening one's knowledge base about the formation of the United States as we know it today.