A Man Called Horse: John Horse and the Black Seminole Underground Railroad
A Man Called Horse focuses on the little-known life of Horse while also putting into historical perspective the larger story of Native Americans and especially Black Seminoles, helping to connect the missing “dots” in this period. After fighting during the Second Seminole War (1835–1842), one of the longest and most costly Native American conflicts in US history, Horse negotiated terms with the federal government and later became a guide and interpreter. Forced to relocate, he led a group of Black Seminoles to find a new home, first heading westward to Texas and later to Mexico.
Turner worked with descendants of Horse, who provided oral histories as well as many photographs and other artifacts. Her expertly researched and vetted biography depicts Horse as a complex, fascinating figure who served in many varied roles, including as a counselor of fellow Seminole leaders, an agent of the US government, and a captain in the Mexican army. But no matter the part he played, one thing remained constant: whether in battle or at the negotiating table, Horse fought tirelessly to help his people survive. The story of John Horse is a tale of daring, intrigue, and the lifelong quest for freedom.
The book includes black-and-white archival photos throughout (though the book is designed in full color), as well as a map, timeline, author's note, endnotes, and select bibliography.
It is difficult to find biographies that accurately portray Native Americans; until twenty years ago, almost all of the books were written by non-Native people and were not accurate in the portrayals of the actions of the US government. This smaller format book (5.5 x 8 inches) is extremely attractive, with colorful page decorations, good sized text, and more illustrations than I would have thought would be available. The notes at the end about the Horse's legacy will be helpful to students doing research for National History Day, as will the bibliography at the end. I'm hoping that we will see a lot more biographies about a variety of unsung historical figures, and this is a great format for titles covering them.