John Rollin Ridge is the first full-length biography of a Cherokee whose best revenge was in writing well. A cross between Lord Byron, the romantic poet who made things happen, and Joaquin Murieta, the legendary bandit he would immortalize, John Rollin Ridge was a controversial, celebrated, and self-cast exile. Ridge was born to a prominent Cherokee Indian family in 1827, a tumultuous and violent time when the state of Georgia was trying to impose its sovereignty on the Cherokee Nation and whites were pressing against its borders. James W. Parins places Ridge in the circle of his family and recreates the circumstances surrounding the assassination of his father (before his eyes) and his grandfather and uncle by rival Cherokees, led by John Ross. Eventful chapters portray the boy's flight with his mother and her family to Arkansas, his classical education there, his killing of a Ross loyalist and subsequent exile in California during the gold rush, his talent as a romantic poet and author, and his career as a journalist. To the end of his life, Ridge advocated the Cherokees' assimilation into white society.