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The Bear River Massacre and the Making of History Paperback – March 29, 2004

3.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The most intriguing dimension is the thrust, from a fascinating variety of viewpoints, to achieve redemption--a great and signal effort encompassing and, however awkwardly, transcending race and ethnicity, religion and non-religion, tribal generations and tribal factions and, very basically, the skeletal hand of History."

From the Back Cover

At dawn on January 29, 1863, Union-affiliated troops under the command of Col. Patrick Connor were brought by Mormon guides to the banks of the Bear River, where, with the tacit approval of Abraham Lincoln, they attacked and slaughtered nearly three hundred Northwestern Shoshoni men, women, and children. Evidence suggests that, in the hours after the attack, the troops raped the surviving women-an act still denied by some historians and Shoshoni elders. In exploring why a seminal act of genocide is still virtually unknown to the U.S. public, Kass Fleisher chronicles the massacre itself, and investigates the National Park Service's proposal to create a National Historic Site to commemorate the massacre-but not the rape. When she finds herself arguing with a Shoshoni woman elder about whether the rape actually occurred, Fleisher is forced to confront her own role as a maker of this conflicted history, and to examine the legacy of white women "busybodies." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 366 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press; 1st edition (March 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791460649
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791460641
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,099,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As a student persuing a Ph.D in American Indian History, I was not impressed with this book. Fleisher goes into long detail about her own experiences while writing her book, and what little "history" she does relate is easily found on the internet. The sources she uses are secondary and tertiary sources at best. If you want to learn about the Shoshoni and the Bear River massacre, I suggest one of Brigham D. Madsen's books; The Shoshoni Frontier and the Bear River Massacre, or Encounter with the Northwestern Shoshoni at Bear River in 1863: Battle or Massacre.
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So here in all its glory is the Eastern-transplant-to-Idaho, postmodernist, feminist, atheist, creative writer's attempt at Western history. As such it has already become dated and has little enduring value to anyone but the writer.

The first part of the book is a long attempt at creating historical context usually returning to contemporary liberal themes whether or not those themes have much to do with the actual topic. It can be safely replaced by much better works such as Madsen's. No new research is provided and her confessed disdain for a reasonable system of footnoting makes it useless for anyone doing any research of note. Her propensity for trying to hunt down modern social themes becomes trying in short order and makes this section a long slog without much value in the journey. She does rightly identify the majority of the sociological issues surrounding the Bear River Massacre, but her shallow knowledge of a number of those factors is apparent. In some cases she relies too much on one source and in others she gives too little credence to more reliable sources.

The only real value in the work is her interviews with and vignettes of others who are more informed on the topic. This is found in the second section of the book and is somewhat useful for understanding the biases of researchers in evaluating the more relevant and better researched works. However, even here the writer forces herself into the story and somehow finds a way to make everything about herself. She is endlessly interested in her own story and how it relates to the events in 1863 when in fact she has no real direct ties to it. Her biases and agendas litter the pages as she wanders back and forth trying to find what it all means to her. It's self-absorption personified and completely unnecessary.
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Format: Paperback
Serious students of the Bear River Massacre would find their time better spent reading some of the better researched and sourced materials available elsewhere. The banter surrounding the modern-day controversy is barely entertaining and hardly reaches the level of local Preston and Sho-Ban reservation gossip. It is evident that the author had little of substance to write, therefore a poorly-researched diatribe against mormons and a sad attempt to validate the battlefield rape tale, was her only way to get this trash published. Even the Southwest Shoshoni deny the rape accounts, yet this author so desparately wants it to be true that she goes to great lengths to substantiate this fairy tale with leading questions and wild fantasies-- obviously intended to titiliate the weak-minded. This is indeed a good first-hand look at what white-apologist, feminine revisionist history looks like. This book does nothing for history or for native americans. Sexist and bigoted baloney.
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Format: Paperback
As an individual who has an MA in military history and has written articles on the Bear River Massacre I think this work had very little historical value. It was written by an English teacher and not a historian, it has very little historical value for real historical scholars. The book is primarily about the author and not the massacre, being written in first person. Further, it was written in non scholarly MLA type format rather than any scholarly hostorical format. If you want to actually read about the subject matter, read Dr. Madsen's works, he is the subject matter expert.
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Very disappointed.I felt the author has a "big" chip on her shoulder and is determined to shove her biased opinion as facts onto everyone who reads this. It definitely came across in the book.
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