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Marching to Valhalla

  • Couverture cartonnée
  • 304 Nombre de pages
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Michael Blake (1945–2015) was the author of Dances With Wolves, Airman Mortensen, and Marching to Valhalla. He rec... Lire la suite
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Michael Blake (1945–2015) was the author of Dances With Wolves, Airman Mortensen, and Marching to Valhalla. He received an Academy Award for his screen adaptation of Dances With Wolves.

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"A TERRIFIC YARN . . . Marching to Valhalla is written as though it were a long-lost diary of Custer's, leading up to his fatal battle. It is a very personal view."
--Denver Post

In his New York Times bestselling novel Dances with Wolves, Michael Blake created an unforgettable saga of white and Native American cultures. Now in Marching to Valhalla, Blake unfolds the story of the final months of General George Armstrong Custer, a story that illuminates the epic sweep of his entire life--his career, his passions, his legacy to the American west.

Here is Custer as we've never seen him before--reckless soldier, bold lover of women, ardent husband, devoted commander, expert Indian killer. A stirring tribute to an American hero and an intimate portrait of a brilliant, flawed man, Michael Blake's Marching to Valhalla is an absolutely stunning novel.

"A startling novel about the year's most popular literary subject."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Échantillon de lecture
MAY 18,
I am as compelled to write as I am to take breath. There is so much in my heart—anger and the deepest pain and love for so many things. Yet it all remains unspoken because emotionally I am mute. I have been as a muzzled dog all my life.
But I can write. I feel I can write all the way through till morning, stopping only at the waking of camp. There is something afoot in me tonight that tells me I am finally writing with my true heart. Not a chatty letter, nor a calculated article, nor a carefully worded report. The constant compulsion to write is now wedded to an impulse to tell all, to tell it simply and without embellishment. To tell the truth.
I will lay this down when we meet the enemy, if we meet him at all, but until that time I will make these nights after tattoo my own—a stool and a tiny desk, a candle and a pen. And I, of course, my brow fully knitted as I try to squeeze something out in ink that I cannot say through the hole in my face. Me. The man from Monroe, the Boy General, Son of the Morning Star, Iron Butt, Old Curly, Long Hair, Fanny and Cinnamon and Autie and Bo. And so much more. And so much less. And like all the great and small of this constantly convulsing world, so alone.
It is terrible to be alone. It leaves a certain part of the human appetite forever unfed. But sitting here by myself in the night, still in my boots, the only sound the mechanical scratching of the pen, makes me feel a king. Strangely, being alone has always filled me with courage, too. Perhaps that is why I have always done so well in battle. I have always felt as alone in the chaos of battle as I do here tonight.
Libbie is gone now. She has been my other life. In lives I have always had two. Life with myself and life with Libbie. I can still feel her breath on my shoulder. It cut through this morning as it always does, cut through the tunic and shirt straight to the skin. Her breath has always burned straight into my flesh.
For a long time we have been experts at separation. She shed no tears as I helped her into the paymaster’s wagon. She smiled her brave smile and said she would listen each night for my step on the stair or the clank of my saber in the hall. She knows that I will come back to her as soon as I can. I have always come to her. She knows I will pay any price to be with her because I have done so many times before. And so has she. We have never been content to be devoted in mind or spirit alone for our marriage has been a marriage of action. We have thrived on demonstrating our devotion and our love has never been at rest.
When the column moved out, I cantered far ahead on Dandy, ascending a ridge from which I hoped I could see the wagon. It was there, far below me like some lonesome ship at sea, rolling over the landscape on a course for Fort Lincoln and home. I lifted my hat and waved it back and forth over my head. And there was her tiny hand, sticking through the canvas doors at the rear of the wagon, waving some piece of fabric back at me.
We have been married for twelve years and yet it seems to me only a blink in time, for Libbie has remained the girl who captured my heart. She said then that her only wish in life was to be with me and that conviction has remained constant through time. It is popularly believed that a woman’s function is to provide a moral foundation for a man, and if that is so, she is a master builder by any standard and I am the luckiest of husbands.
There is business at hand, hard and ugly business that must be completed. How long we must march before engaging the enemy I do not know. I only know I shall miss her little body lying next to mine in this tent. I will miss the rise and fall of her breath at night, the touch of her hand in mine, the perfume of her skin. I will miss her smartness and her readiness and I shall miss the light that shines so brightly in her eyes. But I shall not pine for her. I know she is with me at every moment. She is with me now, even as she sleeps somewhere on the trail back to Fort Lincoln.
MAY 19,
Never could I have imagined all that would happen to me in this life. I have been both king and beggar and all that lies between and I often take solace in the knowledge that few men in history have walked in my shoes.
Few men on earth have dined on the antelope that nourished me this evening. The meat is exceedingly lean—not my favorite. Buffalo is my favorite. I believe I could eat buffalo forever and never tire of its taste. Antelope is far gamier, much like the land it roams, I suppose. I too am roaming this land, headed for a rendezvous with Colonel Gibbon’s column and the steamer Far West on the Yellowstone River.
It is a cold, damp camp tonight with little progress made today. I detest the wagons trailing behind with their loads of rations and ammunition. I wish I could live without food and still spit fire in battle. I wish I could live without sleep. I wish that every day were without impediment and every horse under me without need of rest. But with a force this large there is no escaping the tedium of the march and its many details. Each man must eat, each man must drink, each man must evacuate his waste and be clothed and mounted and spend a third of his every day unconscious. The column moves with the sloth of some monstrous snake that has swallowed some monstrous egg.
As a boy I used to dream of being conscious every minute of every hour of every day. I would lie in my bed, wide awake, wishing I could keep my eyes open till dawn, then to bound from the covers as fresh as if I had slept. To be awake my whole life. The memory drives me still. I have always shunned sleep, always been a slave to a boy’s dream. How grand it would be to miss nothing.
I have feasted on life and feasted on death, yet I have never been full. My blessing and my curse all in one. When I am finished here I shall close my eyes for two or three hours with a single expectation—that of getting up and out. In the morning I will outline the day’s march with the wing commanders and throw down breakfast as fast as I can. Then I shall climb onto Dandy’s back and scout ahead with a small escort, leaving the elephantine mass of wagons and baggage and troops far behind. That is when the joy of my day begins. We will be exploring ahead of the column and I cannot wait to see what tomorrow may bring.
I have been through this country before but I will relish every step that Dandy takes. There is something new to be found each day and it is sure that my restless eyes, which I sometime think have a life of their own, will search out every wood and stream and ridge and ravine for any interesting sign. Perhaps we will find a layer of ancient fossils jutting from the strata along a bluff. Perhaps in a grove of aspens, leaves quaking in the breeze, we will see the flash of a living hide and the chase will begin. If we are determined, the game will be run to its death and there will be fresh meat over the fires tomorrow night. Perhaps, in some glade or coulee, at some unknown distance to our front, the enemy will conceal himself until the desired moment and then we will engage in the point of this campaign, far from home and family. We will lock then in mortal combat, testing the strength of each other’s arms and wills in a fight to the death.
I must laugh at myself. I love moments of discovery and I love combat, but even as I write I know the enemy will not be discovered tomorrow, nor for many more days, I think. The enemy has little interest in our activities and we will not meet him except by some happy accident. The free roamers have gone west, following the buffalo, which is their lifeline. Some of the men are already joking about the prospects for a long summer picnic, saying that it is likely we will trek the whole summer without seeing a single Indian. That is possible. Our foe is the most elusive imaginable. Whole villages can disappear in a single night, large war parties can splinter and vanish almost in a wink. This foe can conceal himself in plain view and is loath to fight unless cornered or given a superior advantage.

Informations sur le produit

Titre: Marching to Valhalla
Sous-titre: A Novel of Custer's Last Days
Code EAN: 9780449000441
ISBN: 978-0-449-00044-1
Format: Couverture cartonnée
Editeur: Random House N.Y.
Genre: Romans et récits
nombre de pages: 304
Poids: 389g
Taille: H216mm x B140mm x T17mm
Année: 1997


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