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Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre Paperback – November 8, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465025110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465025114
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #890,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Historian Richardson (West from Appomattox) brings a fresh perspective to the massacre at Wounded Knee in her engaging study. The U.S. Army slaughter of nearly 300 surrendering Sioux men and women was not just an appalling act of racist brutality, argues the author, it was the outcome of roiling partisan politics. Desperate to maintain their political majority as well as business-friendly tariffs, Republican lawmakers swept into the West, gaining new congressional seats and distributing patronage jobs to supporters, including posts on the newly formed Sioux reservations. Stripped of land, livelihood, and dignity, many Sioux turned to a religious movement called the Ghost Dance—misinterpreted by Republican appointees as a sign of impending insurgency. Their panic was fanned by a feckless media and the Republican political machine hungry to see its vision—a West transformed into thriving farms humming with commerce—fulfilled. Richardson describes the collision of incompetence, political posturing, and military might with elegant prose and the right blend of outrage and humanity, subtly highlighting the parallels between the disastrous partisanship of the late 19th century and the politics of today. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The latest scholarly analysis of the causes leading to this tragic event takes a unique tack. Richardson attributes the fate of the Minneconjou Sioux massacred at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890, not only to growing tensions between the Indians and the burgeoning numbers of settlers, but also to “grandstanding” by President Benjamin Harrison, who was trying to attract western voters and thus secure South Dakota's U.S. senate seat for the Republican Party. To aid in this effort, he ordered a huge army presence in the state to protect settlers from an Indian “uprising,” despite the fact that his general saw no danger of an insurrection. Richardson's meticulously documented account includes extensive historical background of the treaties and events preceding that fateful winter, including the Compromise of 1820, the Treaty of Fort Laramie, and the Dawes Act of 1888, which drastically reduced Indian landholdings. Bitterly enough, the Republicans lost the senatorial race, and Harrison lost the 1892 election, falling into “an oblivion from which he never recovered.” --Deborah Donovan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Heather Richardson has expanded the story of the Wounded Knee Massacre in this book.
wogan
While reading the book, I could not help thinking about the parallels of what is going on in today's American politics given the same dominant class forces.
sgilbert
Eastman deserves this sort of attention, and Richardson is well suited to provide it.
Mick McAllister

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
`Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee' has been the consummate book on the horrors of what the American Indian has suffered at the hands of the `white' immigrants into their land. Heather Richardson has expanded the story of the Wounded Knee Massacre in this book. It is a story that is more than racism. She explains how the massacre grew out of party politics and the profit driven media - whose stories exaggerated the danger that the Indian tribes posed. She makes a good case that business politics and newspaper sales drove much of what happened both at Wounded Knee and to all of the Indian tribes.

The west was at the heart of what the nation looked to as the ideal that it desired to become; but it was two worlds on a collision course. Many of the problems that existed have not changed to this day. Each political side was convinced that the other was trying to destroy America and helpless people were caught in the middle and left in a worse condition than ever before.
All of the social and political issues are explained, including what the societal order was becoming - an overwhelming disparity of wealth and greed. The Sherman family is used an example of those forging a life after the civil war; William Tecumseh, John and Charles, both in politics and in the army. The problem of slavery that was not only a moral issue, but the dilemma that free workers felt they could never compete against slaves is included in the descriptions of the political and economic climate.

The Ghost Dance and the Indian prophet Wovoka's part in the Wounded Knee massacre are covered. The steps that led up to the slaughter and the reasoning on both sides is given.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Glenn R. Springstead on July 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This was an informative book having to do with the tragedy at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890 in which several hundred Indians, including many women and children, were killed by American soldiers outside of the Pine Ridge Reservation (20-30 soldiers were also killed, some apparently by friendly fire). The key figure in American Indian history, Sitting Bull, had been killed earlier in the month by Indian police from the Standing Rock Reservation while attempting to arrest him. The leader of the Indians killed at Wounded Knee was the leader Big Foot.

The book discusses these events in the context of the economic and political changes that arose from the Civil War and influenced the country in the last half of the 19th century. Critical to the travails of the Indians in general and of the massacre at Wounded Knee, in particular, was, according to Richardson, the economic and partisan political motivations of the Republican Party, especially President Benjamin Harrison who was in office at the time. Desiring to promote the industrialization and expansion of American, Harrison's Republicans favored a high tariff, which, depending on your perspective, protected American industry from foreign competition or favored big business, which tended to support the Republican Party. In order to advance their agenda, Republicans needed to create more Republican voters. One way of accomplishing this was to add more (sparsely populated) states from the West to the Union. The states of North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Washington were added to the Union during the early years of Harrison's term.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mick McAllister on July 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is, in a word, a brilliant book. Richardson begins with an Introduction that effectively condenses the entire thesis into twenty pages, and then leads us inexorably through the details of one of the most horrific moments in American history, caused by what may have been the most corrupt administration to ever seize control of the government. Her narrative weaves back and forth through the economic, social, and cultural causes that united to bring American hatred of Indians to focus on a small band of helpless civilians trapped in a Dakota winter and then slaughtered like bugs on their own land. This is a book that it's hard to read without either shame, rage, or irrational denial.

Dee Brown immortalized Wounded Knee in a pulp history a generation ago. Richardson gives us the truth that resides under the fuzz of Brown's opportunistic prose. She tracks each of the trails that converge on Wounded Knee Creek: the corrupt cronyism of the Indian Service, the political ambitions of military leaders, the manipulation of the press, the unexamined racism of white America, the pride of Sitting Bull, the desperation of the Sioux starving in their rural ghettos. It's a relentless, heartbreaking story.

I cannot imagine a better book on the massacre at Wounded Knee; I hope that she will follow it with the definitive biography of that iconic figure of Indian assimilation, his ideals crushed beneath white racism in 1890, Charles A. Eastman. Eastman deserves this sort of attention, and Richardson is well suited to provide it.
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