“The Removes is a stunning, vivid portrayal of captivity and freedom, and wars waged on the landscapes and peoples of the American frontier. Soli’s writing is so visceral and evocative one feels transported to that moment when history is forged. At once intimate and sweeping, unflinching and compassionate, The Removes is a magnificent read.”
— Vaddey Ratner, PEN/Hemingway Finalist, Author of In the Shadow of the Banyan
As the first wave of pioneers travel westward to settle the American frontier, two women discover their inner strength when their lives are irrevocably changed by the hardship of the wild west in The Removes, a historical novel from New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Tatjana Soli.
Spanning the years of the first great settlement of the west, The Removes tells the intertwining stories of fifteen-year-old Anne Cummins, frontierswoman Libbie Custer, and Libbie’s husband, the Civil War hero George Armstrong Custer. When Anne survives a surprise attack on her family’s homestead, she is thrust into a difficult life she never anticipated―living among the Cheyenne as both a captive and, eventually, a member of the tribe. Libbie, too, is thrown into a brutal, unexpected life when she marries Custer. They move out to the territories with the U.S. Army, where Libbie is challenged daily and her worldview expanded: the pampered daughter of a small-town judge, she transforms into a daring camp follower. But when what Anne and Libbie have come to know―self-reliance, freedom, danger―is suddenly altered through tragedy and loss, they realize how indelibly shaped they are by life on the treacherous, extraordinary American plains.
With taut, suspenseful writing, Tatjana Soli tells the exhilarating stories of Libbie and Anne, who have grown like weeds into women unwilling to be restrained by the strictures governing nineteenth-century society. The Removes is a powerful, transporting novel about the addictive intensity and freedom of the American frontier.
“Soli’s new novel focuses on General Custer, the frontier, and the Indian wars. This is a western, but a modern one—beautifully detailed and carefully researched, completely free of the questionable mythologies that sometimes characterize the genre. A vivid, sometimes harrowing, but always gripping read.”
—Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award
“Tatjana Soli’s The Removes breathes new life into a story I thought I already knew inside out—the tale of George Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, a century-old icon of American history, and exhaustively covered by Evan S. Connell’s Son of the Morning Star. Any writer entering these lists must be both bold and strong, and Soli proves herself all that, finding fresh blood in the strangely vexed, compelling romance between Custer and his wife Libbie, real pathos in the plight of captives both before and after “rescue,” and surprising sympathy for the man who wanted—fatally too much—to be a hero.”
—Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls’ Rising, a finalist for the National Book Award
“Tatjana Soli’s The Removes is a rousing, thoroughly engrossing novel of the Indian Wars in the tradition of the best of Western fiction. Told through the actions, suffering, and inner musings of three very different characters—the demon-ridden George A. Custer, his fervid wife Libbie, and a persevering young woman captive of the Cheyennes—The Removes tells a tale of impeccable verisimilitude that is at once a tightly interwoven narrative and a kaleidoscopic picture of the Indian Wars of the American West, from which readers will emerge with a keen appreciation of this tragic American epoch.”
—Peter Cozzens, author of The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West
“Soli braids a beautiful and harrowing tale of Custer, his wife, and a fifteen-year-old girl held captive out on the western plains. Intimate and panoramic all at once, this is a novel of transformation and self-reliance, a book that powerfully questions what we know of women on the American frontier.”
—Dominic Smith, author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
“The Removes is as beautiful a novel as I’ve read in some time. It tells of the nearly unimaginable brutality of western expansion through the stories of two women living in diverse captivities: Libbie, wife of philandering General Custer, and Anne, captured as a girl by the Cheyenne. Soli’s writing is spare, lyrical, haunting and heartbreaking, and countless images from this book will stay with me forever: the harsh majesty of the plains, the “sheer animal joy” of horses running into battle, and the bravado of Custer’s long, meandering march to his ruin.”
— Elizabeth McKenzie, Author of National Book Award long-listed The Portable Veblen
“Tatjana Soli weaves a stark western landscape, a national tragedy, and intimate portrayals of two pioneer women into a poignant and powerful tapestry of identity and belonging that will break your heart. I absolutely loved The Removes.”
—Meg Waite Clayton, Langum Prize-honored author of The Race for Paris
A pictographic account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn by Chief Red Horse of the Miniconjou Sioux. The pictographs are public domain, courtesy of The Smithsonian.