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The Heartsong of Charging Elk (2000)

by James Welch

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325457,892 (4.04)5
Charging Elk, an Oglala Sioux, is recruited by Buffalo Bill Cody to join his Wild West show, which creates a sensation in Europe, until he is left behind--because of illness and a bureaucratic mix-up--in the unfamiliar world of Marseilles.

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Showing 4 of 4
I gave this book a B+ in my collection.
A native American whose life changed radically as the settlers took over their territory in United States , went with a group to France as part of a touring Wild Western show. Due to an injury, he was left behind without identity papers when the group returned to America. So as a stranger in a strange land, he had to survive and build a life for himself, even as by appearance he was definitely unique in this totally unfamiliar civilization. We see him get employment, cope with his new life with some new friends. Then he falls in love with a girl in a brothel. His romantic dreams lead him to plan a life for them together, but this ends when she betrays him and puts him in danger from a sexual molester in the brothel. Protecting himself, he is tried for the murder of this attacker. The story unfolds as we see him cope, and when he is finally released, he find a life in this society.
This book seemed to take off in the middle, and all of a sudden I found it hard to put it down. I enjoyed it. ( )
  JeanneKirkby | Jun 14, 2011 |
Honestly, I thought this was a lukewarm and boring book. Granted, it's an interesting idea for a story, and some parts were intriguing. Also, Welch is a skilled writer capable of creating thoughtful passages. Overall, though, this one just didn't touch me. I felt little to no urgency while reading, and Charging Elk just didn't spark for me as a compelling character. I would recommend this to readers interested in Westerns and the Wild West -- which I am not. Perhaps they will get more from it than I did. ( )
  TheBooknerd | Jun 11, 2010 |
An amazing book: the characterization of Charging Elk is drawn with a fine, elegant pen. This is a story about a hero: an unusual hero, left on his own in France without benefit of any language but his native tongue. ( )
1 vote Rosareads | Dec 26, 2009 |
adult situations (sex); needs parent permission
Native American joins the Wild West show, travels to Paris with them, and is abandoned. Knowing no English or French, and being dark-skinned, Charging Elk has a difficult time in his new surroundings. ( )
  stunik | Mar 27, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
Despite some contrived plot twists, Welch's study of a man forced to adapt to a world utterly unlike his own—and a richly imagined world it is—is well sustained. An amply rewarding read.

added by doomjesse | editKirkus (Jun 1, 2000)
 
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Charging Elk, an Oglala Sioux, is recruited by Buffalo Bill Cody to join his Wild West show, which creates a sensation in Europe, until he is left behind--because of illness and a bureaucratic mix-up--in the unfamiliar world of Marseilles.

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