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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970)

by Dee Brown

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,543125916 (4.26)311
History. Nonfiction. HTML:The "fascinating" #1 New York Times bestseller that awakened the world to the destruction of American Indians in the nineteenth-century West (The Wall Street Journal).
First published in 1970, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee generated shockwaves with its frank and heartbreaking depiction of the systematic annihilation of American Indian tribes across the western frontier. In this nonfiction account, Dee Brown focuses on the betrayals, battles, and massacres suffered by American Indians between 1860 and 1890. He tells of the many tribes and their renowned chiefs‚??from Geronimo to Red Cloud, Sitting Bull to Crazy Horse‚??who struggled to combat the destruction of their people and culture. Forcefully written and meticulously researched, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee inspired a generation to take a second look at how the West was won. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Dee Brown including rare photos from the author's personal colle… (more)
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» See also 311 mentions

English (118)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (123)
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
I've had this book for awhile but just had not gotten around to reading this. History is written by the victors, conquerors, etc. so I was curious to know about this book, which I've had heard of vaguely as a book to read about the perspective from Native and Indigenous peoples here. The book chronicles the battles, massacres, and other terrible events in the history.

You may only know of certain battles or the "big" stories, so this would be a good pickup to supplement your reading and material. From my own personal experience and reviews, it is pretty clear a lot of this is never covered in US history classes in high school (or college unless you choose), which is unfortunate. We would probably be better off if more of us learned about this history in school.

I have to agree with the negative reviews. While the information is important, the book was pretty dull. The text follows the same pattern of chronicling of how the tribes and nations were systemically slaughtered and you can see the outcome. That is not to say that in itself is bad but it does become quite depressing.

It is definitely a book that should be read and contains information that is probably not covered in most US education, unless you specifically study certain aspects (Native history, US military, US imperialism, etc.). I would not be surprised if you see this book on certain class syllabi or as recommend reading for National American Indian Heritage Month, etc. Just be prepared to slog through it.

Borrowed as a Kindle Unlimited read and that was best for me. ( )
  HoldMyBook | Sep 13, 2023 |
Excellent history book. ( )
  MariaStroud | Aug 25, 2023 |
"They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it."
Red Cloud


A powerful and moving account of the history of Native Americans in the late nineteenth century. The book takes the reader on a journey through the tragic and brutal experiences of the indigenous peoples who faced displacement, warfare, and assimilation by the expanding United States.
Brown tells the story from the perspective of the Native Americans, using their own words and testimonies to reveal their struggles, hopes, and dreams. Brown's research is thorough, drawing from primary sources such as letters, diaries, and government documents to provide an accurate portrayal of events. The book is divided into chapters that focus on different tribes and their experiences, giving readers a comprehensive understanding of the diverse cultures and traditions.

Exposing the hypocrisy, greed, and racism of the white settlers and government officials who violated treaties, massacred villages, and forced the natives into reservations; it's very hard to read at times, because it's so honest and graphic about the violence and cruelty that occurred.

A must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about the true history of the American West and the people who lived there before it was taken from them.
Well-researched, compelling, and heartbreaking. A poignant reminder of the resilience and strength of Native American people in the face of unimaginable adversity. ( )
  alexm00dy | Jul 2, 2023 |
The decline of the American Indian is one of the great tragedies in modern history. Equally as tragic was its apparent inevitability. And I don't arrive at this conclusion easily. History is replete with example after horrific example of one group asserting its will over another. The Euro American settlers of the 19th century benefitted from a power imbalance over the American Indians. Their colonial incentives were too tempting, and obviously the country was still generations away from having laws in place to guard against such atrocities. It's arguable we Americans wouldn't try something similar in the 21st century if presented with the chance. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | May 10, 2023 |
Heartbreaking, mindset-shattering, eviscerating.

To get the positives out of the way first: Dee Brown's immense wealth of knowledge and research contributes to make Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee a detailed-yet-well-paced experience. Each chapter chronicles a particular battle, people, or plight, in rough chronological order. Without resorting to extensive flashbacks or appendices, Brown manages to create a sense of the West's treatment of Native Americans from colonisation to the particularly brutal 1800s, when genocide was effectively carried out.

Using transcripts, interviews and evidence from the time, Brown creates a moving portrait that shatters many myths which still resonate, and reminds us of the sins of such ground-level intolerance.

Admittedly, the book would've held more sway when first released, for a generation raised on WWII and '50s-era patriotism. Nowadays, we're more aware of the graphic nature of the treatment of the Native Americans, and so the book's heavy-handedness is particularly evident. Yet, it's easy to forget how marginalised this culture remains - in social understanding, in cultural portrayals, etc. With a pointedness approaching black humour, Brown opens each chapter with a detail of the more commonly-known 'great' events that occurred around the world concurrently with that particular act of one-sided warfare. The development of the telephone. The publication of all the great works of Romantic literature and art. The freaking Emancipation Proclamation! Yet here, in the very same country, an entire race - nay, many dozens of races - were being wiped out. It seems gauche to qualify levels of genocide, but this remains a particularly insidious one. Unlike the oligarchic genocide of the Nazis (where one feels as if removal of a few key figures would destabilise the structure), or the hereditary problems that plague, say, Israel and Palestine, this crime seems one of brutal, individual hatred. The most chilling massacres that Brown describes often occur simply because a few individuals decided - in a moment - they didn't care to be civil with these fellow human beings.

Bury My Heart is perhaps the pinnacle of pop history. In telling his tale exclusively from the other side, Brown weaves a manipulative, overly literary tale. Most of his characters are pure heroes, they speak entirely in riddles, and he pours on emotion like it was a John Williams soundtrack. At times, the academic and the writer in me cry out for some editing, perhaps some levity between the darkest moments, definitely the occasional examination of social and historical contexts that doesn't rely entirely on pandering to our heartstrings. Even when he does describe those white men who were sympathetic, or - as is always the case - seemed to find greater strength in "crossing over" to the Native side completely, Brown could give us more. It's fascinating to read of these men who married into tribes and basically lived with them, or of the young Native Americans who went to university and obtained degrees in the white man's world. But they only enter the narrative at the point when they become part of the bloodshed. What were their daily social patterns like? How did their friends and family respond to the change, and how did it affect the way they interacted in their respective new worlds? This would have been eminently more fascinating, but perhaps it's just outside the scope of Brown's aims.

Yet, this seems a cheap allegation to hurl at such a noble work. After all, where were the moments of levity during what was effectively a decades-long trench war? Where were the moments of tolerance? With each passing chapter, and each passing massacre, the book beats down any resistance you may have to the idea that there is goodness in the minds of men. It's not happy news, but if there's one area of history where that worldview needs to be accepted, it may just be here. ( )
  therebelprince | May 1, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brown, Deeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Curtis, Edward S.Photographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Degner, HelmutTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gardner, GroverNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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History. Nonfiction. HTML:The "fascinating" #1 New York Times bestseller that awakened the world to the destruction of American Indians in the nineteenth-century West (The Wall Street Journal).
First published in 1970, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee generated shockwaves with its frank and heartbreaking depiction of the systematic annihilation of American Indian tribes across the western frontier. In this nonfiction account, Dee Brown focuses on the betrayals, battles, and massacres suffered by American Indians between 1860 and 1890. He tells of the many tribes and their renowned chiefs‚??from Geronimo to Red Cloud, Sitting Bull to Crazy Horse‚??who struggled to combat the destruction of their people and culture. Forcefully written and meticulously researched, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee inspired a generation to take a second look at how the West was won. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Dee Brown including rare photos from the author's personal colle

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