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Where White Men Fear to Tread: The Autobiography of Russell Means Paperback – 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312147619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312147617
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Indian people are dying of sympathy," declares legendary activist Means. "What we want is respect." His unwieldy yet absorbing epic conveys his furious, resourceful activism, intertwined with (and sometimes overshadowed by) his own dramatic, messy life?including heavy drinking, attempts on his life, a stint in prison and several rocky marriages. "Conscientized" by the American Indian Movement at 30, Means helped define Indian rage, leading an occupation of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and, in 1973, an armed takeover of Wounded Knee in protest of a corrupt Lakota tribal government. Assisted by historian Wolf, Means tells his story with vernacular frankness, regularly slamming Eurocentrism. While Means's love for his people and his anger at America's historic depredations seem genuine, his conclusion steals some of his thunder (and contradicts his opposition to intermarriage): after finally entering therapy to cope with his anger, he determines that "feelings and relationships" matter far more than race or culture. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Next to Wilma Mankiller, Russell Means is the contemporary Native American leader that most non-Native Americans are likely to know. He first came to worldwide media attention during the 1973 siege at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, and has rarely been out of the spotlight since. A leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), he also made news for filing a lawsuit against the Cleveland Indians to stop the use of the Indians mascot; most recently, Means played in the Disney animated feature film Pocahontas, in which he was the voice of Powhatan. This extremely readable and chatty autobiography gives an insider's eyewitness account of the events of Means's life, allowing non-Native readers some insight into the world of contemporary Native America with all of its strengths and weaknesses. Struggling with alcohol throughout his busy life, Means went into treatment in 1991 and began this book soon after. Highly recommended. [For an interview with Means, see p. 68.]?Lisa A. Mitten, Univ. of Pittsburgh Lib.
-?Lisa A. Mitten, Univ. of Pittsburgh Lib.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book covers it all and thumbs up.
Donald And Sandra Miller
Anyone interested in learning what really happened and continues to happen in this country would do well to read this book.
emberAZ
This book is well written and easy to read.
Lois Anne

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on January 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
Most people have probably heard of Russell Means at some point. Means is the best known member of the American Indian Movement (AIM). AIM was the group that took over Wounded Knee in the early 1970's and engaged in numerous protests to try and bring attention to the plight of the Native American. This autobiography not only gives the reader a detailed description of the life of Russell Means, but insights into the philosophy of this revolutionary. While AIM has receded into the background quite a bit since its glory days, Means is still going strong. This book shows us why.
The book doesn't flinch from unpleasantness. We find out that Means' parents were abusive and that his father was an alcoholic. Russell himself became mixed up in drugs during his youth and quickly became sucked into the same alcoholic world that his father inhabited. Throughout his career as a member of AIM, Means drank constantly until he finally came to terms with this problem and discovered that his rage could be controlled. During the course of the book we see Russell being beaten up, shot, arrested numerous times, and imprisoned for his activities. This guy has seen it all, and the picture on the front of the book tells me that I would hate to be on this man's bad side. He's tough, but cares deeply for his people and what he believes in, a trait that is certainly noble and admirable.
What comes across most strongly in this book is how AIM helped Means find his spirituality. Before becoming conscious of his heritage, Means spent most of his time in bars drinking. Once he gained awareness of his heritage, Means took part in numerous rituals, such as the Sun Dance and crying for visions. The book goes into intricate detail in describing the importance of these rituals and how they are practiced.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By D. MILLS on July 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is very candid. The author describes himself and his actions without trying to win your praise. A bad son, a bad brother, a bad friend, a bad husband, a bad father. He does not try to hide his faults.

He is also very candid as to his thoughts and feelings towards politics, people, the white man, events and whatever else. He really opens up his heart and mind for the reader to plainly see in this book.

He does make some rather crazy claims (like the Aztecs weren't making human sacrifices but performing open heart surgery) about some things, but his eyewitness accounts of events he personally witness and participated in are consistent with reports of other eyewitnesses so there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of his stories about his adventures in Nicaragua or other events of his life he describes.

He's not a very likeable man. One doesn't know whether to feel sorry for him or to dislike him. For certain, one does feel sorry for anyone who ever crossed his path: his wives, his children, his friends...
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
Russell Means tells it like it was (and still is) for the average "Injun Joe".
Rush Limbaugh really ought to read the section on Columbus Day (before shooting his mouth off again about us Indians being "Colum-bashers").
This is one book every Christian missionary should read, as it gives abundant insight as to why their efforts to evangelize us "heathen savages" have failed miserably.
It is impossible and impractical to return America to its original inhabitants, but with what little we have left, the Indian shall live again.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a big, heavy book that carries a message equally substantial. For every textbook about Indians written by anthropologists there should be one that comes straight from Indian Country, written (told) by those whose experiences we do not hear about often enough. Credit goes to Russell Means here for telling a story that rings with authority, grit, and, finally, hope.
Yet it is not only a story: Means's many opinions about aspects of white society--and of his own--had me marking numerous pages for later reference. And his most famous speech, included in the book's appendix, is a razor-sharp indictment of the (European) worldview that has in many ways yet to earn a respectful place in this world. Ultimately this book is about just that: Respect. "Indians are dying of sympathy," Means says. "What we want is RESPECT."
WHERE WHITE MEN FEAR TO TREAD, though long, is never tedious, doesn't tip-toe, and continues to pull the reader along. This is an important book, and I hope its message--rough edges and all--makes an impact.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
Mr Means has been on a journey most of us white bread types would not attempt even if we had to. His auto biography is candid, sincere and an inspiration!!! Like or dislike his politics, his mistakes or triumphs -- this is a man that is a Human being to the bone and lives and learns as we all do. Fortunately or unfortunately , being an "Indian" human being has colored his world and showed him the worst side of humanity, but also shown him the best we humans have to offer. This is a man I admire and respect greatly. He is a good man that loves this earth and his people -- a true patriot for his people. (And in my mind a patriot for the human race) Hoka Hey!! Russell!!! (a must read for any one that 'thinks' they 'know' what the American Indian faces in this society. As Vine Deloria implied, in "Custer Died for Your Sins" ...."we who think we 'Understand" Indians...by a trip through Arizona, watching a documentary or having known one or read a BOOK 'about them!" For some of us that is what fires our couriosity and admiration, but Mr. Means tells you the reality of being an American Indian in the United states of america during his life time. Again Russell--Hoka hey--
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