In Larry McMurtry‘s splendid Crazy Horse, the author does something really smart, he measures what Crazy Horse means to his people and to us as Americans. Little is known about Crazy Horse, despite the iconic presence he is. McMurtry does not indulge any speculative history; rather than this, he carefully crafts an enigmatic and towering definition of who Crazy Horse became in history’s wider lens. Instead of perpetuating the myth-writ-large, McMurtry, with the skill of a surgeon, explains our complicated history with the legacy of this odd man. I’ve always admired McMurtry’s writing and while I was never much interested in Western things before or Texas so much, Lonesome Dove changed all of that for me and I became a rabid fan of Mr. McMurtry’s novels.
One of my aims in making these meditations on Crazy Horse is not to convince you I know a lot about Native American History or Native Americans. I don’t. I am a white guy who is fascinated by the problematic history and wanderings of one iconic Native American, Crazy Horse. He was an odd man who was not very comfortable as a leader, or a member of a tribe, or even as a man. He was a seeker of spirits, of nature, which are pretty much the same thing in this particular body of work. Do I feel a kinship with him? Not really. He was at heart a loner, happy out wandering in nature, hunting deer, elk and buffalo, sleeping in caves and under the stars. I am an admirer of his courage and otherworldliness. I feel greatly for those who will only be like themselves.