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The Heart of Everything That Is

The Heart of Everything That Is

The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend

  • reading group guide
  • bestseller
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER


An astonishing untold story of the American West

The great Sioux warrior-statesman 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 our nation’s most powerful and successful Indian warrior can finally be told.

Born in 1821 near the Platte River in modern-day Nebraska, Red Cloud lived an epic life of courage, wisdom, and fortitude in the face of a relentless enemy—the soldiers and settlers who represented the “manifest destiny” of an expanding America. He grew up an orphan and had to overcome numerous social disadvantages to advance in Sioux culture. Red Cloud did that by being the best fighter, strategist, and leader of his fellow warriors. As the white man pushed farther and farther west, they stole the Indians’ land, slaughtered the venerated buffalo, and murdered with impunity anyone who resisted their intrusions. The final straw for Red Cloud and his warriors was the U.S. government’s frenzied spate of fort building throughout the pristine Powder River Country that abutted the Sioux’s sacred Black Hills—Paha Sapa to the Sioux, or “The Heart of Everything That Is.”

The result was a gathering of angry tribes under one powerful leader. “The white man lies and steals,” Red Cloud told his thousands of braves at council fire. “My lodges were many, now they are few. The white man wants all. They must fight for it.” What came to be known as Red Cloud’s War (1866–1868) culminated in a massacre of American cavalry troops that presaged the Little Bighorn and served warning to Washington that the Plains Indians would fight, and die, for their land and traditions. But many more American soldiers would die first.

In The Heart of Everything That Is, Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, the New York Times bestselling authors of Halsey’s Typhoon and The Last Stand of Fox Company, 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 and various men and women whose lives Red Cloud touched—mountain men such as the larger-than-life Jim Bridger; U.S. generals like William Tecumseh Sherman who were charged with annihilating the Sioux; fearless explorers such as the dashing John Bozeman; and the warriors whom Red Cloud groomed, the legendary Crazy Horse in particular. And residing at the heart of the story is Red Cloud, fighting for the very existence of the Indian way of life.

This fiery narrative, fueled by contemporary diaries and journals, newspaper reports, eyewitness accounts, and meticulous firsthand sourcing, is a stirring chronicle of the conflict between an expanding white civilization and the Plains Indians who stood in its way. The Heart of Everything That Is not only places the reader at the center of this remarkable epoch, but finally gives Red Cloud the modern-day recognition he deserves.
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  • Simon & Schuster Audio | 
  • ISBN 9781442367500 | 
  • November 2013
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Heart of Everything That Is includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

Though he was the only American Indian ever to defeat the United States Army in a war, the incredible story of the Sioux warrior Red Cloud was, for a long time, lost to history. In an era when expansion westward was at the forefront of the U.S. government’s mind, Red Cloud and his army of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors mounted a powerful defense against the white man’s invasion of their lands—so powerful that they ultimately forced the U.S. government to sue for peace on their terms. This was an outcome that had never occurred before—and would never occur again. In The Heart of Everything That Is, Bob Drury and Tom Clavin tell the story of Red Cloud’s rise to power against the backdrop of an exciting, dangerous, and in many ways tragic epoch, when American Indian warriors like Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull battled for the lushest hunting grounds and the prospect of gold and adventure lured men like John Bozeman and Nelson Story to the West. But even among these great men, Red Cloud stands out as having live see more

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