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Black Hills
By Dan Simmons

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Black Hills

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Black Hills
By Dan Simmons
Read by Erik Davies and Michael McConnohie
Hachette Audio, (2010)
An Unabridged Recording on 18 CDs
ISBN: 978-1-60024-786-6
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal

This book is also available in Large Print.

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - March 15, 2010

Black Hills is the newest epic novel by Dan Simmons. This historical drama begins in 1876 when a young Lakota Sioux boy by the name of Paha Sapa (Black Hills) counts coup on a man he later learns is General George Armstrong Custer. Paha Sapa goes about counting coup by touching Custer, just at the moment of Custer's death. The young boy feels Custer's ghost enter his body, and from that moment on they are irrevocably connected for the next sixty-plus years. This is not to be Paha Sapa only connection with the spiritual world, for he soon begins to see visions that give him insights into the past, as well as into the future and the great men whose actions are to shape the decades to come.

Black Hills is an intriguing novel that has at its center, the construction of Mount Rushmore on a mountain sacred to the Lakota. Despite being sacred to the Lakota Paha Sapa takes a job with a construction crew whose job is to blow up large chunks of the mountain. He takes the job, however, with the altruistic purpose of stopping the construction progress. His success or failure in this mission is one of the turning points of the story.

Within the pages of this epic book, Simmons explores not only the history of the American West, but also the often ignored history of the native peoples upon whose land this country was sowed. Through Paha Sapa's eyes, and his visions, we see the interactions that occurred between the white colonialist and the native peoples, and the various ways in which the sensibilities and feelings of the native population where trampled upon in the name of progress - and greed.

An intriguing if somewhat overlong book, Black Hills is a must for Simmons's fans. The unabridged CD edition of this book is read by Erik Davies and Michael McConnohie and it runs sixteen discs with a run time of around 21 hours - so it is not for the faint of heart. While some portions do drag, overall, the book is worth the effort and the time.

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