As a young adolescent, Hollis Dorion Stabler underwent a Native ceremony in which he was given the new name Na-zhin-thia, Slow to Rise. It was a name that no white person asked to know during Hollis's tour of duty in Anzio, his unacknowledged difference as an Omaha Indian adding to the poignancy of his uneasy fellowship with foreign and American soldiers alike. Stabler’s story—coming of age on the American plains, going to war, facing new estrangement upon coming home—is a universal one, rendered wonderfully strange and personal by Stabler’s uncommon perspective, which embraces two worlds, and by his unique voice.
Stabler's experiences during World War II—tours of duty in Tunisia and Morocco as well as Italy and France, and the loss of his brother in battle—are at the center of this powerful memoir, which tells of growing up as an Omaha Indian in the small-town Midwest of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma in the 1920s and 1930s. A descendant of the Indians who negotiated with Lewis and Clark on the Missouri River, Stabler describes a childhood that was a curious mixture of progressivism and Indian tradition, and that culminated in his enlisting in the old horse cavalry when war broke out—a path not so very different from that walked by his ancestors. Victoria Smith, of Cherokee-Delaware descent, interweaves historical insight with Stabler’s vivid reminiscences, providing a rich context for this singular life.
Victoria Smith is an assistant professor of history and Native American studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
“Stabler and Smith should be commended for recording this soldier’s story for posterity.”—Stacy Reaves, Chronicles of Oklahoma
“An outstanding collaborative biography of Stabler.”—Robert Wooster, Journal of Military History
“Smith has provided just the right measure of clarification throughout; her work never intrudes into the natural flow of the storytelling or its first-person authenticity. This book will be enjoyed by a broad audience seeking a better understanding of one Indian man’s personal experiences as both an honored veteran and a respected community member.”—Michael Tate, South Dakota History
"Stabler's phrasing of stories and the very stories he chose to tell speak volumes about a man who does not like to make himself out to be a hero, but happens to be one anyway."—Daily Nebraskan
“[Stabler’s] vivid recollections of hardship, sacrifice, and camaraderie are poignant reminders of what the “greatest generation” went through to preserve American liberties at home. Stabler’s memoirs are also significant for what they reveal about Native American experiences and perceptions of the war. A member of the Omaha Nation of Nebraska, Stabler was one of 25,000 Indian soldiers who served during World War II. . . . [Victoria Smith] does a fine job of organizing the story and placing it in its proper historical context. I highly recommend it.” —Annals of Iowa
2006 Distinguished Book Award winner, biography/memoir category, sponsored by the Army Historical Foundation