Review: Michael Punke's 'Ridgeline'

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“Ridgeline: A Novel” by Michael Punke

THOMAS PLANK for the Missoulian

With the brutal adaptation of “The Revenant” by Alejandro Iñárritu — using only natural light and filming in freezing temperatures in Montana and Argentina — Punke’s predilection for reanimating the stories of the Old West is known both for his historical rigor and for his tendency to pick violent and legendary characters to put on the page.

Ridgeline, the Missoula author’s newest historical novel, follows the same contours of “The Revenant” but with more focus on the political aspects of telling a known and forgotten story. In 1866, the U.S. Army is attempting to hold onto the expansionary interests of a nation reeling from the horrors of the Civil War. Col. Henry Carrington shows up in the Powder River Valley and is told to defend a road that will bring settlers and extraction interests into the West, while Crazy Horse and Red Cloud gather a force of Native warriors intent on removing the Army from their land.

The action flows throughout the book and

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