4 out of 4 stars
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Peoushi: An American Legend by Michael F. McWilliams is a historical fiction novel. The book follows Major Marcus Reno as he tracks down the Indians on his scouting mission. The book details commonly known historical facts while adding a degree of personality to known historical names like Marcus Reno, General Custer, Dr. Porter, and many others.
The book starts with Reno's scouting of the Tongue River. He insists on setting camp and waiting on the selected scouts to return. Reno is eager to find the Indians in the hopes that this will lead to military advancement. The men in his cavalry have different opinions on what their leader plans to do once he comes across the Indians. Miles Keogh and Captain Yates are described increasingly well in the book. Miles Keogh is volatile, outspoken, rude, and insubordinate. He does not like Major Reno and does not try to hide this. It does not take long for Boyer and the Rees, the awaited scouting party, to join Reno and his cavalry. They come bearing the news that the Indians could not be seen. Reno directs them to eat and then ride to the Rosebud in order to see if they can catch a trail as to where the Indians are heading. Major Reno directs the cavalry to the Rosebud, hoping that by the time they get there the scouting party will have credible news. Mitch Boyer and the scouts, while carefully scouting the Rosebud, discover that the number of Indians travelling is significantly larger than they had previously thought. Will they catch the trail of the Indians? How many Indians are travelling and where is their destination? These questions will be answered in this amazing book.
The story of the Battle of Little Bighorn has been told time and again. What this book did was to give relatable personalities to the men in the seventh cavalry. I got to understand what drove Major Reno to disobey the orders he had been given and direct his men to hunt for the Indians. I also got to see the interactions of different personalities and how this affected the campaign. Marcus Reno is a man who enjoys the feeling of leadership and commanding his fellow men. His pride directs him to speak however he pleases to Mitch Boyer and his fellow scouting party. His insistence on following the trail left by the Indians, against the direct orders he had been given, had well-detailed historical ramifications. This presented a bit of a challenge because the end result of the campaign is detailed in historical books. It was particularly hard for me since I came to understand the personalities of many of the men in the cavalry. I did not know the diversity of the men under Major Reno. Corporal Meyer is a German immigrant who had found advancement in the military. The characters, in my opinion, are what separate this book from other historical books.
I encountered many themes in this book which were used to enrich the plot. The main theme I encountered was conflict. The cavalry is destined for conflict with the Indians. They are following their tracks hoping to report their location. Another major theme I encountered was humour. The author's explanation on how Captain Keogh's sanity being questioned by his men was hilarious. There was also humour when Will Rees complains about the state of his shirt and how it seems like he is even dirtier after cleaning himself. I encountered themes like trust, secrecy, espionage, discrimination, and pride. The author used these themes masterfully to highlight the depth of the characters and to make the plot memorable.
I rated the book 4 out of 4 stars. This is because I found the plot captivating and highly addictive. The characters were developed masterfully and livened the story. I did not encounter a single spelling or grammatical error. This led me to believe that the book was professionally edited. The only thing that I disliked about this book was how short it was. The book definitely deserved a 4-star rating.
I would recommend this book to historical fiction fans. The book would also appeal to fans of non-fiction and educational books. I enjoyed reading this book and I look forward to reading more of the author's works.
Peoushi: An American Legend
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