Little Big Man

Little Big Man

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'I am a white man and never forget it, but I was brought up by the Cheyenne Indians from the age of ten.' So starts the story of Jack Crabb, the 111-year old narrator of Thomas Berger's masterpiece of American fiction. As a "human being", as the Cheyenne called their own, he won the name Little Big Man. He dressed in skins, feasted on dog, loved four wives and saw his people butchered by the horse soldiers of General Custer, the man he had sworn to kill. As a white man, Crabb hunted buffalo, tangled with Wyatt Earp, cheated Wild Bill Hickok and survived the Battle of Little Bighorn. Part-farcical, part-historical, the picaresque adventures of this witty, wily mythomaniac claimed the Wild West as the stuff of serious more

Product details

  • Paperback | 448 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 32mm | 320g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • The Harvill Press
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1860466419
  • 9781860466410
  • 132,617

Review Text

A successful, serious but, crack-brained burlesque of Indian mores and frontier life, this tells the story of Jack Crabb, the 111-year-old lone survivor of Custer's last stand at Little Bighorn. (Berger is the author of Crazy in Berlin and Reinhart in Love, both of which had patches of unorthodox brilliance.) The manuscript purports to be a taped memoir, during the last year of Crabb's long life. Jack, and his sister Caroline, were taken captive by the Cheyenne Indians who "tragically mistook" Caroline for a man. Caroline escapes (and later reappears as a kind of Calamity Jane) but Jack is reared by the tribe and is named Little Big Man. Deserting the Cheyenne, he later falls in with white folk and like Huck Finn, can't stand them. Back with the Indians, Jack's wife and child (Indian) are lost to him when Custer attacks their village. But later, after meeting Wild Bill Hickok, he joins Custer's Seventh Calvalry and fights beside the General he had once sworn to kill. Custer's paranoid ravings during battle as he fires his pistols from the classic West Point stance are an inventive highlight in a book with obstreperous originality. However, its greatest triumph is its ??depletion of the Cheyenne and their attitudes toward life and death. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

"A seminal event in the most significant cultural and literary trend of the 1960s... Few creative works of post-Civil War America have had as much of the fibre and blood of national experience in them" Nation "One of the best novels of the decade and the best novel ever about the American West" New York Timesshow more