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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970)

by Dee Brown

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (70)  Dutch (1)  All (71)
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
The map of the United States is scattered with the names of our continent's original peoples. In many cases this is all that remains of them. By the 1860s, when this book's detailed coverage of their story begins, native populations were long accustomed to European abuses. Even so, those still occupying western ancestral territory disbelieved anything could truly happen to remove them from land so open and spacious. Many could not conceptualize how hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned they were. Most signficantly they did not have the same sense of land ownership as those who sought to take it from them, or an understanding of the rampant desire for it that continually drove their opposition to lie, to steal and to kill.

The American government in Washington, distant from the frontiers, was sympathetic to their cause and often pleaded their case in fine speeches. Society at large may have regarded the native American cause as tragic but certainly lost. Settlers and prospectors on the frontier saw only free land and the natives occupying it as a dangerous hazard, disregarding every invisible line the government sought to hold them apart with. A great proportion of the military on the frontier were rabid racists who felt it their duty to exterminate the native 'threat' regardless of any peace overture or what any scrap of paper said. Make a treaty, callously disregard it until you've provoked a war, blame the "savage" natives for the violence, sue for peace via another treaty to please Washington - around and around.

Some of the policy reversals are liable to inflict whiplash where it is almost literally a case of shaking hands on the left and cocking a gun on the right. Individual outrages are horrific in their details, but it is their sheer volume that really begins to tell on the senses. The clichéd homily about 'worthless treaties' undergoes a transformation: it sounds flat at the start of the book, then gathers increasing power with every instance until finally it does not even begin to speak to what continues to be done on every page. If any book can make you cheer for Custer's downfall at Little Bighorn, it'll be this one.

Some maps would have been welcome. Dee Brown's writing is plainspoken and often just-the-facts, doing very little to dress up or frame events and often omitting much examination into the "why". From a scholarly point of view this feels lacking, but it does lend some of the period's popular sense of inevitability. The writing's blunt nature can add to the force of its punch. Shortly after Sheridan's infamous quote about his believing the only good Indian is a dead one, the author simply lists with little commentary a number of famous chiefs whose stories he had sympathetically told: "Now they were all good Indians."

This is not the scholarly, literary classic that the subject matter still demands and deserves, but it is moving, essential reading. ( )
1 vote Cecrow | Apr 3, 2017 |
A very famous account of a dark, violent period in American history. Brown's book gives an overview of the "Indian wars" of the US Southwest from 1860 to 1890, roughly the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado Territory to the Wounded Knee Massacre in the Black Hills. It's maddening to read about the continual broken promises of the white people as they grabbed up Indian lands over and over again. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
Essential reading in Native American history. Every American citizen should read this book. ( )
1 vote kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
review to come ( )
  wildrequiem | Dec 21, 2016 |
This is probably the most depressing and tragic book I've ever read. It just goes on and on, injustice after injustice, murder after murder. If it were fiction, you'd have to ding the author for giving no relief. But it's not. Getting through this description of genocide, which happened right here through our own government, is traumatic. So why would I rate it so highly? I loved the respect the author gives to the native Americans, especially with the careful use of quotes directly from them, and I love the way each chapter is begun with a list of the more familiar history of what was happening at that time. It makes the events of the battles with the Indians connect with me -- they aren't so very long ago. It's a worthwhile book, and I'm glad I read it, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone. ( )
1 vote TerriBooks | Nov 9, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dee Brownprimary authorall editionscalculated
Knipscheer, JosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sides, HamptonForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass.

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.

- (Stephen Vincent Benét)
Ik zal daar niet zijn. Ik zal mij oprichten en heengaan. Begraaf mijn hart bij de bocht van de rivier. (Stephen Vincent Benet)
Dedication
For Nicolas Brave Wolf
First words
It began with Christopher Columbus, who gave the people the name Indios.
Quotations
Americans who have always looked westward when reading about this period should read this book facing eastward.
Now they were all good Indians.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
There is also an adaptation of this book "for young people" by Amy Erhlich with the same title and Dee's name listed as author. ISBNs for the adaptation have been identified as 0006713416, 0030915597, 0440957680, 0606029982, 0701122366, 0785712712, 0805027009, 9780006713418, 9780030915598, 9780440957683, 9780606029988, 9780701122362, 9780785712718, 9780805027006. Please do not combine the adaptation with the original full-length book.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805066691, Paperback)

First published in 1970, this extraordinary book changed the way Americans think about the original inhabitants of their country. Beginning with the Long Walk of the Navajos in 1860 and ending 30 years later with the massacre of Sioux men, women, and children at Wounded Knee in South Dakota, it tells how the American Indians lost their land and lives to a dynamically expanding white society. During these three decades, America's population doubled from 31 million to 62 million. Again and again, promises made to the Indians fell victim to the ruthlessness and greed of settlers pushing westward to make new lives. The Indians were herded off their ancestral lands into ever-shrinking reservations, and were starved and killed if they resisted. It is a truism that "history is written by the victors"; for the first time, this book described the opening of the West from the Indians' viewpoint. Accustomed to stereotypes of Indians as red savages, white Americans were shocked to read the reasoned eloquence of Indian leaders and learn of the bravery with which they and their peoples endured suffering. With meticulous research and in measured language overlaying brutal narrative, Dee Brown focused attention on a national disgrace. Still controversial but with many of its premises now accepted, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee has sold 5 million copies around the world. Thirty years after it first broke onto the national conscience, it has lost none of its importance or emotional impact. --John Stevenson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:21 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is Dee Brown's eloquent, fully documented account of the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the nineteenth century. A national bestseller in hardcover for more than a year after its initial publication, it has sold almost four million copies and has been translated into seventeen languages. For this elegant thirtieth anniversary hardcover edition, Brown has contributed an incisive new preface. Using council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions, Brown allows the great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes to tell us in their own words of the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that finally left them demoralized and defeated. A unique and disturbing narrative told with force and clarity, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee changed forever our vision of how the West was really won.… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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