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Reviews Circling Back. By Gary Holthaus. (Salt Lake City: Gibbs M. Smith, Inc., Peregrine Smith Books, 1984. 186 pages, $11.95.) Circling Back is an ensemble of many voices directed by Gary Holthaus, who is also one of the voices. The multitude of voices come from personal journals, histories, official U.S. Government reports, even from Parmenedes and T. S. Eliot and others too numerous to mention. Much of the volume is made of these found poems, as if it were a collection of historical artifacts. Even though Holthaus lists over ninety-five “Sources Quoted” from which he quotes and paraphrases, his own voice as poet is present in the lines and personae he creates amid those of other personalities transmitted to us. He calls upon the reader to join him on the Rampart Range to witness the pro­ gression of the western experience. With him, we look and listen northward, mostly, toward the Powder, Bighorn, and Yellowstone Rivers. We witness heroism, disgrace, love, the callous acts, and the sometimes quiet strength of individual integrity. The voice is that of the American West Native American as well as Euro-American. Familiar voices are here: Hugh Glass, Meriwether Lewis, or Native voices transmitted to us by Catlin, Grinnell, or Denig. But there are also the voices of common folk (actual and imaginary) who by their indi­ vidual living experiences helped sacralize the landscape of the Rocky Moun­ tain West. Often the material comes directly from texts such as Russell’s Journal of a Trapper, The Journals of Lewis and Clark, or Delano’s Life on the Plains and Among the Diggings, but is, as Holthaus says, “relined.” Break­ ing the lines into shorter lengths does not in itself convert James Pattie’s personal narrative, for instance, to poetry; but it does make the content, and even more importantly the voice, more accessible. The book is divided into ten sections, not counting the Prelude and the Postlude, whose titles indicate both the structure and the theme. From the first two, “Chant the Creation” and “We Are all Related,” to “The Tree” to “The Sound of the Snapping Guidon” to the final two, “Prairie Fire” and “Embers,” each section captures the western spirit in the personal accounts related. Holthaus cautions in the “Acknowledgements” section that since “this is not a scholarly paper” there are no footnotes. Nonetheless, he assures us that “in every case the source of the material can be found in the title or within the story.” Actual practice is not all that reassuring, for exact identifi­ cation of sources in the text of the poem is not always clear. One insisting on 352 Western American Literature visible documentation would in some instances be disappointed even though the raw material of the sources is honestly and appropriately utilized' but to demand the immediate clarity of a documented paper would violate both the spirit and the aesthetic coherence of a very good book. Sir Philip Sidney would be pleased with Holthaus’s accomplishment on at least one count: the book does both “teach and delight.” For much the same reasons and for reasons indigenous to our western heritage, any reader interested in the American West would enjoy this book. JAMES R. SAUGERMAN Northwest Missouri State University The Indian Man: A Biography of James Mooney. By L. G. Moses. (Cham­ paign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1984. xvii + 293 pages, $24.95, cloth.) In recent years anthropologists have been severely criticized for their dealings with American Indians. Some of the criticisms were justifiable, but others were not. Certainly James Mooney’s relationship with Indians pro­ vides an example which should be emulated by all students interested in the field of American Indian studies. Mooney was one of the first “professional” scholars who devoted his life to the study of native Americans. He was recog­ nized by whites and Indians alike as one of the foremost ethnologists in the United States. Mooney believed that “the only way to learn their ideas and study their character” was to live and work with Indians. He felt that without an understanding of the Indian communities “you cannot know them.” Mooney was correct, and scholars today should take...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 351-352
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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