Book Review of an American story
At this momentous time in world history, I offer a book review of Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman. It’s an American story for our time.
There was nothing romantic about the Wild West or the American Civil War. And there was nothing romantic about being a freed slave at that time. This book describes how Yankee soldiers razed plantations to the ground and either left slaves to rot or “confiscated” them as enemy contraband and put them to work. Those not seized faced a perilous existence, wandering the land looking for food and shelter, Male ex-slaves risked being lynched; female ex-slaves risked rape then lynching.
This is a novel about a teenage girl (she has no name but calls herself Charley) whose only means of survival is to disguise herself as a man and join the US Army to fight for the white man against the indigenous population of America. Gradually she sees that these native tribes are suffering the same oppression as the slaves. This is a harrowing story but Charley is an engaging character who speaks with a beautifully authentic rhythm in her narrative voice. The brutality she witnesses doesn’t make her bitter and full of hate. She grows resilient and wise. Despite the horror – rape and murder are never far from the page – this is also a thrilling adventure. Above all we see the triumph of the human spirit.
It is set 150 years ago but never has a story been more relevant to today.