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The thrilling, long-awaited return of the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Revenant
In 1866, with the country barely recovered from the Civil War, new war breaks out on the western frontier—a clash of cultures between the Native tribes who have lived on the land for centuries and a young, ambitious nation. Colonel Henry Carrington arrives in Wyoming’s Powder River Valley to lead the US Army in defending the opening of a new road for gold miners and settlers. Carrington intends to build a fort in the middle of critical hunting grounds, the home of the Lakota. Red Cloud, one of the Lakota’s most respected chiefs, and Crazy Horse, a young but visionary warrior, understand full well the implications of this invasion. For the Lakota, the stakes are their home, their culture, their lives.
As fall bleeds into winter, Crazy Horse leads a small war party that confronts Colonel Carrington’s soldiers with near constant attacks. Red Cloud, meanwhile, wants to build the tribal alliances that he knows will be necessary to defeat the soldiers. Colonel Carrington seeks to hold together a US Army beset with internal discord. Carrington’s officers are skeptical of their commander’s strategy, none more so than Lieutenant George Washington Grummond, who longs to fight a foe he dismisses as inferior in all ways. The rank-and-file soldiers, meanwhile, are still divided by the residue of civil war, and tempted to desertion by the nearby goldfields.
Throughout this taut saga—based on real people and events—Michael Punke brings the same immersive, vivid storytelling and historical insight that made his breakthrough debut so memorable. As Ridgeline builds to its epic conclusion, it grapples with essential questions of conquest and justice that still echo today.
“Ridgeline is an exciting, vividly-imagined reconstruction of an extraordinary moment in the history of the American West. The novel is scrupulously researched, and its account of the major figures on both sides of a vicious conflict—their fears and desires, their strengths and their weaknesses—is insightful and thoroughly revealing.”
—Ian McGuire, author of North Water and The Abstainer
“Telling the fateful story leading up to the Battle of a Hundred in the Hand, Ridgeline is a novel of singular artistry.”
—Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana
"Punke understands the land, events, and brings the characters here to life. This is a great work of fiction that's more accurate than most non-fiction on the subject."
—Donovin Arleigh Sprague, Author of Cheyenne River Sioux and nine other books and great, great, great grandson of High Backbone
"Like The Revenant, Ridgeline tackles another huge legend of the west and sets it right. With a memorable cast of characters, Punke tells the story of the Fetterman massacre, one of the final and most significant Native American victories over the US Army. A highly compelling page turner; you won’t be able to put it down.”
—Philipp Meyer, author of The Son and American Rust
"In his kaleidoscopic telling of a little-known battle on the sacred Lakota hunting grounds of Wyoming, Punke has created a modern classic and worthy successor to The Revenant. Brave, thrilling, and heartbreaking, Ridgeline brings the history of conquest in the American West to unforgettable life."
—Tatjana Soli, author of The Lotus Eaters and The Removes