The Ghost of Crazy Horse
by Dr. James Hawley

"'But, what if they send you to Vietnam?' questioned Gayle. 'I’m a marine now,' answered Eric. 'I’ll do what they tell me.'"

Waldo Wagner lives in the Wyoming countryside with his parents, older brother Eric, and two sisters. Following him from a young age into adulthood, marriage, and starting his own family, this dramatic tale focuses on Waldo through each phase of his life. While riding out to fix the fence on their property, the two brothers stumble across a bundle of bones that they believe belong to Crazy Horse. Storing them secretly in the barn, the hiding place becomes a storehouse of keepsakes that Eric shows Waldo before he goes off to Vietnam. Waldo enlists in the military himself, choosing the Army as his branch of the service. While overseas in Germany, Waldo meets Aimee Mercer, a beautiful French woman that he asks to marry after five weeks of dating, but the tragedy of the Vietnam War touches the Wagner family shortly after Waldo’s happy moment.

What will impress the reader most about this novel is the scope of its drama. As the story focuses on loss and disappointment, the progressing age of Waldo highlights what those concepts mean in all stages of life. The contrasting backdrops of peaceful rural Wyoming, urban Frankfurt, and the horrific scenes of Vietnamese jungle warfare dictate the general pace of the narrative. The true strength of this story lies in its characters, however, who leap from the page with their humanity and distinct characteristics. While Eric and his girlfriend Sara tend to be confident and brazen, Waldo’s confidence seems to take a hit after a nasty concussion from his teenage years. Readers with a love for human drama framed by historical events will find each chapter more compelling than the last until the story ends in an emotional conclusion.

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