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Panther in the Sky


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About the Author

James Alexander Thom is the author of Follow the River, Long Knife, From Sea to Shining Sea, Panther in the Sky (for which he won the prestigious Western Writers of America Spur Award for best historical novel), Sign-Talker, The Children of First Man, and The Red Heart.


Thom's previous books, published in trade paperback, all dealt with Americans fighting for independence in the Ohio River area and their experiences with the Indians in the late 1700s. Now come the Indians themselves, with this hardcover novel of Tecumseh (1768-1813). Tecumseh was born under a shooting star, a portent of greatness. His father and older brothers died fighting white encroachment onto Indian lands, and he became the leader of younger and more dissident elements of many tribes in order to fight white seizure of their lands. The basic facts of this warrior's life are all here, but Thom states he ``was looking especially for insights into the culture, morality, ceremony, and psychic condition of the Shawnee people in the time of their greatest crisis.'' He seems to have found them, as the characters are alive and believable. Overlong but well done.-- Andrea Lee Shuey, Dallas P.L.

What particularly distinguishes this splendidly vigorous and imaginative recreation of the life of the great Shawnee chief Tecumseh (1768-1813) is its bid to capture the spirit of Midwestern Indian culture from within. A bestselling trade paperback author ( Follow the River ; From Sea to Shining Sea ), Thom has steeped himself in Shawnee customs, rituals, mystic rites, techniques of hunting and fighting--and Tecumseh embodies this tradition at its best. Inspired by the example of his father and older brother, both skilled warriors, and a sagacious sister, Tecumseh is fearless and cunning in battle, yet magnanimous and honorable. He alone has the strength of personality to unite the Indian nations in a sporadically successful but ultimately doomed resistance to the ever-encroaching white man. Despite his hatred of whites, Tecumseh can admire such rivals as Daniel Boone and General (later President) Harrison, and even has some white friends, who include a missionary and a British general. It's a story of the tragic clash of cultures, made more ironic by the follies of Tecumseh's younger brother, a fake shaman, and punctuated by exciting battles in which courage and cruelty have equal roles. Above all, it is the tale of a charismatic leader's efforts to defend his people in the face of overwhelming odds. Major ad/promo. (Apr.)

"[James Alexander] Thom shows how, in honest, capable hands, fictionalized biography can add verisimilitude to the life and times of this extraordinary America. . . . The dialogue has the ring of reality about it. . . . Thom is able to get into the thoughts and emotions of his characters."--Dee Brown, Los Angeles Times

"The story of a bruised and threatened culture . . . Thom's rendering of the Shawnee world is authoritative. Tecumseh is a wonderful character. . . . Panther in the Sky is bloody, brave and honorable."--The Washington Post Book World

"Through Thom's masterful storytelling and his passion for Shawnee lore, customs and especially mysticism, you continually have the feeling that maybe, these simple, proud individuals can win back their land and have life go on as 'Our Grandmother, ' that great spiritual force, intended."--Chicago Tribune

"A work of such sweep and compassion that it blurs the demarcation between novel and history . . . Totally admirable."--The Cincinnati Enquirer

"A brillinant job . . . meticulously researched . . . It is a detailed story of the almost mythical life of [Tecumseh] and that of the Shawnee of his time."--Kansas City Star

"A spellbinding novel about the life of Tecumseh . . . The book is almost epic in its scope. . . . Thom has carefully researched his facts. He has the care of a historian to go with the skills of the seasoned novelist."--The Indianapolis Star

"Riveting . . . Historical fiction at its finest."--Booklist

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