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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West » User review

A heartfelt and heartwrenching account of the Indian Wars and the Battle of Little Bighorn

  • Aug 14, 2010
I originally read this book back in my freshman year of college for an American history class.  I wasn't expecting or prepared for what I read.  I was, perhaps naively, expecting something dry, a typical historical text.  What I read was something passionate, powerful and even life-changing.
  I'd always considered myself sympathetic to the plight of the original American Indians, but the story Dee Brown tells, backed up by facts, historical records and personal accounts, brought a whole new light to what I thought I knew.  It touched my heart and I hope that everyone takes the time to read this book at least once.

The first chapter begins with a history of Dee Brown's own personal experiences, and why it is he's interested in the matter at hand in the first place.  He then continues to talk about the initial colonization of the Americas in the 1400's.  The majority of the book, however, focuses on the Indian wars, which truly got underway in the 1600s.  He pays special attention to the latter years of the Indian wars, the mid to late 1800's and on the Battle of Little Bighorn.

It's not a fictional book so the characters he writes about are not developed within his mind.  Instead, he comes to know them, and write about them, through extensive and thorough research.  In my opinion, he does a wonderful job of portraying those involved in the conflicts that led to the tragedy of the American Indians' plight.  He talks about such figures as General Custer, Geronimo, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.  Numerous other US officials, soldiers and authorities as well as other American Indian chiefs are discussed in the book and each account, be it European or American Indian, is given its own personal touch.  He lets it be known that each person he talks about is just that, a person, with weaknesses, with strengths, with beliefs.  

It's, without a doubt, a story of history but Dee Brown does not make it a dry story, a story for memorizing for a test and then forgetting later on.  He makes it personal.  It's a story that will stay with you, haunt you perhaps, and will not only change your perspective but also give you hope, hope that these events will not repeat themselves in the future.

I recommend this book to everyone.  It was originally printed in 1970 but it has not lost its power over the years.  It's touching, it's heartfelt, and it's personal.  I imagine it took a lot for Dee Brown to write what he did, because of the research, because of the experience and because of the emotional nature of what he was writing and his personal experiences with American Indian friends.  And he writes it beautifully.  With passion, with attention to detail, and with his heart.  Please, read this book!

They did, in more recent years, make a movie version of this book, although I have not seen it.  I don't think, however, that any movie could quite compare to the book.  The history, the authour's voice and experience all combine to make this a heartfelt, intensive experience that all Americans should experience.

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August 18, 2010
Evan S. Connell's "Son of the Morning Star" tells Custer's life eloquently; there's also a new biography of him, to add to a long shelf no doubt. I remember reading this book by Dee Brown in high school, and its photo inserts told just as powerful a story.
August 15, 2010
I haven't read Philbrick's book yet, but I definitely will soon! I'm so glad to see books like this, so controversial just a couple decades ago, becoming required and even popular reading. It gives me hope. :) Thanks for the tip about The Last Stand! And I do recommend giving it a read. It's emotional but it's well, well worth it. I cried several times but I don't regret it. I'll have to look up the movie now. :) Thanks!
More Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee:... reviews
review by . July 16, 2008
Weight of evidence builds to the sad but inescapable conclusion of Wounded Knee. Brown lays to rest any romantic notions of misunderstood white paternalism toward Native Americans, and leaves the reader feeling the immutable burden of a race war against the Native Americans that was akin to that against black slaves.    The saddest part is that nothing can be done to change or redeem the history. No amount of sorrow, or guilt-feeling, or even reparations can restore justice.   &nb …
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
What an awesome alternate history compilation. Anyone who wants to see the other side of the Old West, the other side of cowboys and indians, this is a must read. It's a bit slanted against the white-man, but none more than traditional American history has been slanted for the white-man. They say the victors write the history books; well this book is a victory for the other side.
review by . March 26, 2009
The strength of "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" is also its weakness: Its commitment to telling an ugly truth about American history so searing as to become numbing after a while.    It's impossible to consider fairly this, Dee Brown's 1971 examination of the Indian Wars of the American West, without remembering how much it cut against what was then still the mainstream thinking and literature regarding just what happened. The Indians were often bloodthirsty, it was alleged, …
review by . March 16, 2000
I have never before read a book like this. It is utterly fascinating, a real page turner, and yet it makes you ashamed of something that happened many years before your birth. Ashamed because you know that similar things are happening elsewhere in the world, and ashamed becuase we never seem to learn from our mistakes.On a lighter note this is a meticulous essay on a life long lost, and country unspoiled and beautiful, and a world we will never be lucky enough to know.If you only read one book in …
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Cristel Wood ()
Ranked #717
I was born in the desert. I can appreciate the beautiful sunrises, sunsets, and the lonely beauty of the desert. Luckily, however, I moved to the beautiful great northwest (i.e. Washington State, USA) … more
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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 Brownfocused attention on a national disgrace. Still controversial but with many of its premises now accepted,Bury My Heart at Wounded Kneehas 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 ...
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ISBN-10: 0805017305
ISBN-13: 978-0805017304
Author: Dee Brown
Genre: American History
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
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