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To Save Each Other Only to Fight - an Editorial Review of "Little Crow"

Book Blurb:

A chance encounter on a train in 1910 between Edward, a down and out newspaper reporter on the run from a vengeful hoodlum, and Little Crow, an Arapaho man with a fascinating story to tell. A story of indomitable spirit, and loss.

Little Crow’s story spans two decades beginning at Sand Creek, Colorado in 1864 and ending in Batoche, Saskatchewan in 1885. In that time, Little Crow cross paths with Jacque, a Métis Voyageur, and Tom, a Northwest Mounted Policeman. The three men would save each other’s lives at different points in their adventures only to meet on opposite sides of a deadly battle.

As the reporter chronicles the adventures of these three men, he must also evade his pursuer who hunts him from Saskatoon to New York City. Who will survive the journey?

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Editorial Review:

The phrase ‘it’s a small world after all’ has never been more true than for the characters in this novel. Little Crow, the Arapaho warrior, begins his journey after only five snows when he is orphaned in his small village due to the white soldiers that come to plunder it. What would begin is the journey of a brave, humble man who becomes a hero time and time again.

We stood and reluctantly followed our leader. I will never forget how I felt at that moment: fear of my unknown fate, self disgust for surrendering, and sorrow for the dead friends I was leaving behind. But I was not ashamed of my tears.

But this story is not told like any other. It is told in the form of interviews, being taken down by Edward Humphires, a cheap man with big dreams on the run from some shady business. He encounters Little Crow and quickly determines that the warrior has a tale worth hearing–a tale that has a price. Edward is a flawed main character who drinks heavily and continues to find himself in sticky situations–thus a nice contrast to the three other characters in the story who pride themselves on being good men–who have risked their lives for one another and others in battles, sacrificed time with their families for the greater good of all, and who still after many years keep a humble and almost graceful nature. Sandberg has great talent in separating each of the characters in this interconnecting story and showing the distinct differences between each one while also painting the imagery of their tales and how they all came to know one another.

What began as an introductory telegram to the offices of Harper’s Magazine in New York City turned into numerous back and forth wires that significantly depleted Edward’s meager funds. Edward had pitched the idea of a true story of one Indian’s participation in the Custer massacre and his flight from American retribution. The magazine sent a telegram informing Edward that he would receive a telephone call in the lobby of the Royal Alexandra Hotel from the magazine’s editor in chief at noon the following day to discuss particulars.

The other two main characters in this story were Tom Flynn and Jacque Daoust, each one meeting Little Crow at a different point in their lives before eventually meeting one another. Each time their life was saved by that of the Arapaho warrior who would leave a lasting impact on the men. The small links of friendship had begun to build between these three men and would continue far into the future.

We traveled light and fast across the prairie, and I found myself hoping we wouldn’t encounter any game; I was enjoying Little Crow’s company. We shared more stories, and I was jealous that he seemed to have had more adventures in his short life than I could ever hope to have. My admiration grew for this young warrior because that is what he was, a warrior.

The biggest suspense throughout the story was not necessarily how the three warriors met, but what would happen to Edward Humprhries when his past misdeeds would catch up to him. To see him look upon his story subjects with envy was a turning point that brought some emotion into the story outside of the interviews. To see this not so straight and narrow character wish for something as strong as what these friends’ had was a turning point for the story. For a while the moments outside of the interviews were very cut and dry, with only minimal details as to what was happening in between other than Edward lying low. But then we started to see the human side of Edward, and that is all to the credit of Sandberg's storytelling abilities. He doesn’t waste time on frivolous details and moments, but cuts right to the heart of the story – t e parts you most want to hear and see visually – the parts that will leave you hungry for more.

Genevieve, Jacque, Tom, Annie, and White Dove stood in front of the bookstore’s long front counter watching Little Crow telling a rapt audience how he counted coup at the Little Big Horn Battle. It was supposed to be a reading from Edward’s book, but Little Crow preferred to relate his adventures while standing and acting out some of the movements, much to the delight of his audience.

The research that Sandberg had to have done for this story is exceptional. Not only did he weave a tale for one man, but two others as well. Taking place over years with many battles, marches and ongoing war he never hesitated to dive deep and pluck out all the useful facts. The incorporation of Native American names and places, built up a rich cultural story that will leave an impact on all of its readers.


“Little Crow” by Albert Sandberg receives four stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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