Mari Sandoz Clifton Fadiman - Essay

Clifton Fadiman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Mari Sandoz] has been carrying on a fervent historico-literary affair with a dead Indian, the consequence of which is a curious, half-interesting, uneven book called "Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas." (p. 84)

The author has gone to enormous trouble not merely to get at the tangled truth of our own somewhat shameful relations with the Indians of the region but to project her imagination backward in such a manner as practically to identify herself with the Indian mind. The result is a book that is half history, half heroic epic, and not entirely successful as either. Crazy Horse was doubtless a great, if inevitably doomed, leader, but his story is told so completely from his own point of view that it seems to belong as much to the literature of apologetics as to the literature of biography.

Whenever she is able to extricate herself from the quagmire of detail (in which students of the period will doubtless take considerable pleasure), Miss Sandoz writes with great drive and passion—more, perhaps, than the average reader will think the theme deserves. Unquestionably, her book, the product of studious labor, will rank among the important records of the history of the American Indian. (pp. 84, 86)

Clifton Fadiman, "Nemetskies" (copyright © 1942, 1970 by The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.; reprinted by permission of Lescher & Lescher, Ltd.), in The New Yorker, Vol. XV. No. 42, December 5, 1942, pp. 82, 84, 86.∗