The heartsong of Charging Elk: a novel

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Doubleday, 2000 - Fiction - 440 pages
31 Reviews
Inspired by actual historical fact, James Welch's The Heartsong of Charging Elk tells the story of an Oglala Sioux who travels the extraordinary geographical and cultural distance from tribal life in the Black Hills of South Dakota to existence on the streets of Marseille. As a young boy, Charging Elk witnessed his people's massacre of Custer's Seventh Cavalry at Little Big Horn, followed by years of futile fighting and wandering until the Sioux were finally lured to the Pine Ridge reservation. But he prefers life in the Stronghold, living by his wits and skills in the old way.
Ironically, it is Charging Elk's horsemanship and independent air that cause Buffalo Bill to recruit him for his Wild West Show, which travels across "the big water" to create a sensation in the capitals of Europe. Charging Elk and his Sioux companions are living a life touched by fame and marked by previously unthinkable experiences - until he falls ill in Marseille and, through a bureaucratic mix-up, is left behind in a hospital while the show travels on. Scared, disoriented, Charging Elk escapes - only to fall into a series of events, including a love affair with a prostitute and a shocking murder, that will change his life utterly beyond his imagination.

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Review: The Heartsong of Charging Elk

User Review  - Cristina - Goodreads

Overall Thoughts: The Heartsong of Charging Elk had a great premise, but it was not lived up to. Welch is inconsistent with his POV rules, the plot gets stale, and the characters are very ... Read full review

Review: The Heartsong of Charging Elk

User Review  - Carl - Goodreads

James Welch's last novel, "The Heartsong of Charging Elk," left me flailing for what to say. I'd read all his previous novels and they feature believable plots. But the action in this book lurches ... Read full review


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About the author (2000)

James Welch is the author of four previous novels, including Winter in the Blood (1974) and Fools Crow (1986), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and one nonfiction work, Killing Custer (1994). He attended schools on the Blackfeet and Fort Belknap reservations in Montana, and studied writing at the University of Montana under the legendary teacher Richard Hugo. He lives in Missoula, Montana, with his wife, Lois.

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