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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by [Brown, Dee]
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 Brown focused attention on a national disgrace. Still controversial but with many of its premises now accepted, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee has 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 emotional impact. --John Stevenson

From Library Journal

This 1970 volume greatly changed the view of pioneers' westward advancement. Based largely on primary source materials, this volume details how white settlers forced Indian tribes off the plains, often simply by killing them. Though Hollywood and penny dreadfuls portrayed Indians as red devils who launched unprovoked attacks on innocent homesteaders, Brown's research shows that the opposite is closer to the truth. The text is buttressed with numerous period photos. An essential purchase. (LJ 12/15/70)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5209 KB
  • Print Length: 482 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media; 1st edition (October 23, 2012)
  • Publication Date: October 23, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009KY5OGC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,015 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Be prepared to be affected by this book. I guarantee that you can not read it without being emotionally touched and moved by this account of the loss of a beautiful land, the demise of a conscientious and spiritual way of life and finally the extirpation of a nation of people; or at least their ceasing to exist as free, independent, proud and noble individuals.
The book had a profound impact on readers when it was first published in 1971 for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it took a unique perspective. Reports of Treaty meetings, tribal histories, Congressional findings and interview transcripts have all been distilled to provide the Indian point of view. Indeed the books' subtitle is 'An Indian History of the American West'. The second factor has to do with when the book was published. Interest in environmental issues was growing and the accounts of the destruction by the settlers of the Eastern forests, the soiling of the rivers and the slaughter of the Buffalo herds struck a chord, especially when contrasted with the practices of the Indians. Readers began to see Indians in a different light, as the first conservationists.
The period of history covered is short. From about 1860 to 1890. The first chapter briefly sketches the interactions between Eupopean and Indians from the formers' arrival in Massachusetts in 1620 up to the setting up of the 'permanent indian frontier' west of the Mississippi in 1847.
The 'frontier' lasted no time at all. Gold was discovered, land was sought and settlers flocked west. To cover this in legitimacy it was necessary to invent 'Manifest Destiny'. The Indians were now doomed as history has shown that this policy made it manifest that the Indians were destined to be swept aside by the white man. All that we have left is their legends, their magical placenames and some works like this book that provides insights into how the West was really lost.
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Format: Paperback
Nothing could prepare me for the emotional effect that "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" would have on me. Dee Brown brings us the history of the white settlement of the American West as told by the people who were there, both white and Indian. This is not the history we learned in school, and the book will shatter the images of many of our heroes, but the story is important enough that I think every American should read it.
I also recommend "The Trail of Tears", by Gloria Jahoda, which is the history of the removal of the eastern tribes to the west. These two books are neccessary if you, as an American, want a complete education of American History.
Beyond education, these books present a people who loved the earth, trusted and respected mankind, and lived honorable lives. I trust that these stories of the near annihilation of our native people at the hands of our forefathers will effect you in unexpected ways, and that you will come away from the experience with new heroes, and a broken heart.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Saw this book at the Smithsonian Indiian Museum in Washington DC. My husband couldn't put it down. This is the one with the illustrations which really brings home the story. Great read, great book. Anyone interested in learning the other side of the Indian story needs to read this.
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Format: Paperback
Since its publication in 1970, Dee Brown's well-documented history of American Indians from 1860 to 1990 has sold more than 5 million copies. Mr. Brown quotes from original documents, including translations of the actual words of the Indians as they made their eloquent pleas for justice in the many councils they attended and where they were deceived again and again by white men who robbed them of their land. Even though there's a certain sameness to the outcomes, each tribe had a different experience. The Indians didn't have a concept of ownership of land. To them, it belonged to everybody. As they couldn't read, they didn't know what they were signing, but even when they did understand, it was just a matter of time until new laws took even more land away. And then there were the massacres. I had tears in my eyes while reading about them, especially in the descriptions of the cruelty to women and children. The Indians fought as best as they could, but they were no match for big guns and well-equipped armies. It was an awful time in our history, one of shame for Americans.
Throughout the book I couldn't help thinking about the real stories it contained that would make great movies. There's the story of the Seneca Indian who took the name Ely Parker and studied to be a lawyer. Because he was an Indian, he was not allowed to practice and so he became an engineer. During the Civil war he was Military Secretary to U.S. Grant. Later, he was appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs. How that all played out is a fascinating story. And then there is the story of the Ponca Indian, Standing Bear, who left the reservation in the late 1870s with a small band of people. Because of some helpful white men, his case was argued in the courts.
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Format: Paperback
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, and our American forefathers imbued themselves in the pioneer spirit by bringing the red man to heel. Brown took an entirely different course.

"Americans who have always looked westward when reading about this period should read this book facing eastward," Brown writes in his preface.

And that's how he writes it, from the perspective of displaced Navajos, Utes, Sioux, Apaches, and more than a dozen other American Indian tribes who were the victims of Manifest Destiny. As Brown tells it, their story is one of being washed away by the greed and savagery of white Americans.

The book is often strongest when that savagery is at its ugliest. At Sand Creek in 1864, a regiment of Colorado volunteers under the command of an American Eichmann, one Col. John Chivington, rode into a peaceful village of treaty-abiding Cheyennes and gunned down more than a hundred men, women, and children. Asked about the children, Chivington replied: "Nits make lice!"

It's a raw tale that sits like lead in the stomach of any decent-minded American. But for Brown, that's all you need to hear. The fact that Chivington was cashiered for his murdering, and Colorado's governor cast from office for his part in the massacre by President Andrew Johnson, is not mentioned here.
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