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Zeke and Ned

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Having told just about every tale there is to tell about Texas, McMurtry ventures north of the Red River in Zeke and Ned, his second collaborative effort with Ossana. Like Pretty Boy Floyd, this is the saga of a real-life folk hero — Ned Christie, seen by many as the last great Cherokee warrior, who outwitted and outshot several federal posses sent into the Cherokee Nation to capture him during the rough-and-tumble era after the Civil War. Christie’s troubles with the white man’s law began when a drunken friend accidentally shot his own mistress dead while aiming at her husband, provoking a blood feud and prompting white fears of an Indian uprising in neighboring Arkansas. Historians may quibble with some of the details, but the storytelling is pure McMurtry: fast-paced, witty, and filled with offbeat characters, crisp dialogue, and dramatic reversals of fate.