The Color of Lightning

The Color of Lightning

A Novel

Book - 2009
Average Rating:
5
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At the end of the Civil War, Britt Johnson, a freed black man, travels with his family from Kentucky to start a new life in Texas. But this wild country holds dangers of its own. When his wife and children are captured during an Indian raid, Britt vows to bring them home or die trying. But his determination and courage quickly land him in the thick of a battle he wants no part of--the struggle between the U.S. government and the Kiowa and Comanche tribes, whose land, freedom and culture are threatened.

    Paulette Jiles, winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award, the Governor General's Award and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, returns with a story that is grounded in history but that echoes the classic myths. Powerful and nuanced, by turns as beautiful and unforgiving as the frontier itself, The Colour of Lightning is an ambitious and striking novel that confirms Jiles as one of Canada's finest writers.

 

 

Publisher: New York : William Morrow, 2009
ISBN: 9781554683178
9780061690440
Branch Call Number: JILE
Characteristics: 349 p. : map

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h
hecto
Jul 31, 2017

This is the prequel to 'News of the World', and it displays the same outstanding qualities of the latter book: the author's exceptional ability to describe the natural world and the material culture of both Indian peoples and white settlers along the Texas frontier. As with 'News', the well-crafted story focuses on the recovery and return of white captives; but the message here is clearer and broader. We are made witness to a collision of civilizations that no 'enlightened policy' can prevent from running its inevitable course. The Kiowa and Comanche are going to go down fighting for their way of life because it is the right thing for them to do - indeed the only thing. In the author's sure hand these men and women are brave , joyful, clever, generous - but also gratuitously violent and cruel, with little capacity for empathy. The balance that she strikes in character description is really admirable. These are flesh-and-blood Indians, not Rousseauian children of Nature. Yes, they have been dispossessed by the whites, who are guilty of mass violence as well - something that Jiles makes abundantly clear throughout her narrative. But her ability to portray this clash as a 'fateful' encounter, a true tragedy, is what makes this a superior book - and a darn good read as well.

a
anndubois1
Jun 22, 2017

Well written story based on actual references to events in the life of Britt Johnson, a freed slave who brought his wife and 3 children to Elm Creek, Texas in 1863. This is the story of the ongoing battle between the settlers who pushed into Indian Territory and the clash of cultures as the Indians continued their long standing tradition of nomadic life, raids for horses and slaves and brutal treatment of those they chose not to enslave.

m
miaone
Dec 06, 2016

It's probably worth more stars but I can't read something that I think is going to have murder and mayhem in it. It started off beautifully, but the dark clouds started forming and I was out.
Yeah, wimpish, but nowadays I want to read something that won't throw me into despair.

e
EmilyEm
Nov 26, 2016

Jiles fictional account of real-life Britt Johnson’s efforts at restitution of family and neighbors kidnapped by raiding Cheyenne and Kiowa in post-Civil War Texas is fascinating.

I liked that her characters were realistic and not stereotypes. Britt Johnson’s efforts to run his business and Samuel Hammond’s efforts as the Quaker Indian agent added authenticity and pathos to this tale. Good historical fiction.

k
KSerá
Jul 23, 2013

Hauntingly beautiful and suspenseful.

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