In his short, spirited biography of Crazy Horse, Larry McMurtry pointed out that there are fewer verifiable facts about the Lakota war leader than there are about Alexander the Great, who lived some 2,000 years earlier ... from the beginning the warrior is presented as a man apart ... Ridgeline builds toward the skirmish that is sometimes called the Fetterman Fight, after Capt ... Mr. Punke makes him the mastermind behind the military strategy, the man with the insight and authority to impose tactical discipline on tribes accustomed to winning glory through individual feats of combat ... Like the Lakota fighters, the reader is eager for the waiting to end and the showdown to arrive. It eventually does, in a thrilling, gut-twisting series of sprung traps and harrowing violence—an action sequence that’s very much the stuff of legend.
A fictional portrait of a lesser-known battle in American history ... A massacre of U.S. Army soldiers by Native Americans that foreshadowed the more famous one at the Little Bighorn River a decade later is the subject of this richly detailed but fast-paced novel ... The novel effectively inhabits the mind of Crazy Horse, a sober, determined fighter who understands that he 'must fight not for his own aggrandizement or glory, but only for the betterment of his people.' Punke patiently escalates the tension between the opposing sides, as raids on the fort’s cattle herd and skirmishes with crews dispatched to fell trees for the wood supply threaten its survival while the tribes recognize the need to attempt a fatal blow before the onset of winter. The expansive, vivid account of the climactic battle, in which Crazy Horse acts as a decoy to lure the Army forces into a deadly trap, brings the novel to a pulsating climax.
Punke again brings the Old West to life in this engrossing account of the violence and horror of a Wyoming massacre that presaged the Battle of Little Big Horn ... Punke makes the battle vivid, and draws deep characterizations of individuals on both sides, exploring Crazy Horse’s fear of impending change, U.S. soldiers’ indifference to fighting, and a captain’s lament of the breakdown of discipline and reason within the battalion’s leadership. This is historical fiction at its best.