Blood Brothers: The Story of the Strange Friendship between Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill

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Winner of the 2018 Ohioana Book Award for Nonfiction

“Deanne Stillman’s splendid Blood Brothers eloquently explores the clash of cultures on the Great Plains that initially united the two legends and how this shared experience contributed to the creation of their ironic political alliance.” —Bobby Bridger, Austin Chronicle

It was in Brooklyn, New York, in 1883 that William F. Cody—known across the land as Buffalo Bill—conceived of his Wild West show, an “equestrian extravaganza” featuring cowboys and Indians. It was a great success, and for four months in 1885 the Lakota chief Sitting Bull appeared in the show. Blood Brothers tells the story of these two iconic figures through their brief but important collaboration, in “a compelling narrative that reads like a novel” (Orange County Register).

“Thoroughly researched, Deanne Stillman’s account of this period in American history is elucidating as well as entertaining” (Booklist), complete with little-told details about the two men whose alliance was eased by none other than Annie Oakley. When Sitting Bull joined the Wild West, the event spawned one of the earliest advertising slogans: “Foes in ’76, Friends in ’85.” Cody paid his performers well, and he treated the Indians no differently from white performers. During this time, the Native American rights movement began to flourish. But with their way of life in tatters, the Lakota and others availed themselves of the chance to perform in the Wild West show. When Cody died in 1917, a large contingent of Native Americans attended his public funeral.

An iconic friendship tale like no other, Blood Brothers is a timeless story of people from different cultures who crossed barriers to engage each other as human beings. Here, Stillman provides “an account of the tragic murder of Sitting Bull that’s as good as any in the literature…Thoughtful and thoroughly well-told—just the right treatment for a subject about which many books have been written before, few so successfully” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
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About the author

Deanne Stillman is a widely published, critically acclaimed writer. Her books include Blood Brothers, Desert Reckoning (winner of the Spur and LA Press Club Awards for nonfiction), and Mustang, a Los Angeles Times “best book of the year.” In addition, she wrote the cult classic, Twentynine Palms, a Los Angeles Times bestseller that Hunter Thompson called “A strange and brilliant story by an important American writer.” She writes the “Letter from the West” column for the Los Angeles Review of Books and is a member of the core faculty at the UC Riverside-Palm Desert MFA Low Residency Creative Writing Program.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Oct 24, 2017
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781476773544
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional / Native American & Aboriginal
History / United States / 19th Century
History / United States / State & Local / West (AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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North of Los Angeles - the studios, the beaches, Rodeo Drive - lies a sparsely populated region that comprises fully one half of Los Angeles County. Sprawling across 2200 miles, this shadow side of Los Angeles is in the high Mojave Desert. Known as the Antelope Valley, it's a terrain of savage dignity, a vast amphitheatre of startling wonders that put on a show as the megalopolis burrows northward into the region's last frontier. Ranchers, cowboys, dreamers, dropouts, bikers, hikers, and felons have settled here - those who have chosen solitude over the trappings of contemporary life or simply have nowhere else to go. But in recent years their lives have been encroached upon by the creeping spread of subdivisions, funded by the once easy money of subprime America. McMansions - many empty now - gradually replaced Joshua trees; the desert - America's escape hatch - began to vanish as it became home to a latter-day exodus of pilgrims.

It is against the backdrop of these two competing visions of land and space that Donald Kueck - a desert hermit who loved animals and hated civilization - took his last stand, gunning down beloved deputy sheriff Steven Sorensen when he approached his trailer at high noon on a scorching summer day. As the sound of rifle fire echoed across the Mojave, Kueck took off into the desert he knew so well, kicking off the biggest manhunt in modern California history until he was finally killed in a Wagnerian firestorm under a full moon as nuns at a nearby convent watched and prayed.

This manhunt was the subject of a widely praised article by Deanne Stillman, first published in Rolling Stone, a finalist for a PEN Center USA journalism award, and included in the anthology Best American Crime Writing 2006. In Desert Reckoning she continues her desert beat and uses Kueck's story as a point of departure to further explore our relationship to place and the wars that are playing out on our homeland. In addition, Stillman also delves into the hidden history of Los Angeles County, and traces the paths of two men on a collision course that could only end in the modern Wild West. Why did a brilliant, self-taught rocket scientist who just wanted to be left alone go off the rails when a cop showed up? What role did the California prison system play in this drama? What happens to people when the American dream is stripped away? And what is it like for the men who are sworn to protect and serve?

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