Review:: A Warrior of the People by Joe Starita

I received an ARC of A Warrior of the People courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

On March 14, 1889, Susan La Flesche received her medical degree—awarriorofthepeople-687x1024becoming the first Native American doctor in U.S. history. She earned her degree 31 years before women could vote and 35 years before Indians could become citizens in their own country.
By age 26, this fragile but indomitable Indian woman became the doctor to her tribe. Overnight, she acquired 1,244 patients scattered across 1,350 square miles of rolling countryside with few roads. Her patients often were desperately poor and desperately sick—tuberculosis, smallpox, measles, influenza—families scattered miles apart, whose last hope was a young woman who spoke their language and knew their customs.
This is the story of an Indian woman who effectively became the chief of an entrenched patriarchal tribe, the story of a woman who crashed through thick walls of ethnic, racial and gender prejudice, then spent the rest of her life using a unique bicultural identity to improve the lot of her people—physically, emotionally, politically, and spiritually.
A Warrior of the People is the moving biography of Susan La Flesche’s inspirational life, and it will finally shine a light on her numerous accomplishments.

The author will donate all royalties from this book to a college scholarship fund he has established for Native American high school graduates.

I was unsure about this book. On the one hand, I really wanted to read about this fabulous woman. On the other hand, it’s written by a white dude, which always makes me step cautiously.

Susan La Flesche is an astonishing woman, who worked her ass off for every step she took, and I loved learning about her life. Despite my interest in the subject, this book didn’t make me want to keep reading.

There was nothing inherently wrong with A Warrior of the People, but there was very little emotion in it. The author’s voice was the same no matter what he was writing about, whether it was the murder of a village or Susan moving in with her sisters. It honestly read like a textbook, which took a lot of the enjoyment out of it for me.

It was very well researched, and the information was great – I just think it could have been written in a much more interesting way. Because I had such a hard time getting into it, I have to rate it three stars.

three stars

That being said, if this sounds more like your thing, the proceeds from A Warrior of the People go to an amazing cause. Pick a copy up on Amazon, Indiebound or your other favorite bookseller!

For the last twelve years, I have held an endowed professorship at the joestaritaUniversity of Nebraska’s College of Journalism. I was the New York Bureau Chief for Knight-Ridder newspapers and a veteran investigative reporter for the Miami Herald. My stories have won more than three dozen awards, one of which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for local reporting. The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge won the MPIBA Award and received a second Pulitzer nomination. I am also the author of “I am a Man.”: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice.

Disclaimer: All links to Indiebound and Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money off of it.

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