On December 29, 1890, American troops opened fire with howitzers on hundreds of unarmed Lakota Sioux men, women, and children near Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, killing nearly 300 Sioux. As acclaimed historian Heather Cox Richardson shows in Wounded Knee, the massacre grew out of a set of political forces all too familiar to us today: fierce partisanship, heated political rhetoric, and an irresponsible, profit-driven media.
Richardson tells a dramatically new story about the Wounded Knee massacre, revealing that its origins lay not in the West but in the corridors of political power back East. Politicians in Washington, Democrat and Republican alike, sought to set the stage for mass murder by exploiting an age-old political tool: fear.
Assiduously researched and beautifully written, Wounded Knee will be the definitive account of an epochal American tragedy.
©2010 Heather Cox Richardson (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"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." (Publishers Weekly)
The best line in the book is the quote from the 1877 Supreme Court ruling in Beecher v. Wetherby, where the Court stated that when dealing with Indians, "[i]t is to be presumed that ... the United States would be governed by such considerations of justice as would control a Christian people in their treatment of an ignorant and dependent race."
Going into this book with a lot of misconceptions about this area of American history, the book was a real eye opener. With the Indians, they got shafted at every turn, from the federal government, right down to the citizens, and no matter how they tried to play their hand, they lost. The sad thing was, they got all the considerations of justice a Christian people could give them, and then some.
I've come to conclude that you can't avoid history repeating itself by learning from it, but rather, simply learn that history repeats itself. This book is interesting because it could be dropped it in at different points in American history, change a few names and groups, or substitute lands with gold in it to lands with oil in it, and it would read just like a book written for that time period.
What should we learn from this book? If you are an indigenous person, never make an agreement with the American federal government; public schools are used to control free people; no matter what horrendous acts the military commits, the people will make heroes out of it; the only good use for a federally-created report, created during a large investigation into an event, is to cut the report into 4-inch-wide strips, tape the pieces together end-to-end, roll it up around a cardboard tube, and hung on the wall for use as toilet paper.
Given the time-period of the book, it is also clear that the people, both government and citizens, set the stage for what we see today when we look our windows. Rather than it all being the result of just an over-reaching federal government, it is clear that the citizens had their hands in on it as well. The westerners, by actively campaigning for an end to the gold standard, pretty much handed us fiat money and the Federal Reserve system just a handful of decades down the road from the massacre at Wounded Knee. As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for.
In the Bible, the Israelites demanded a king from Samuel, and were given Saul, who turned out to be exactly the kind of king they deserved at the time. As we approach federal elections and our choice is between Obama and Romney, reading "Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre," explains why, in 2012, we ended up with exactly the type of leadership we deserve as a nation.
One of the best books on the 19th C West I've read. Very skillfully places events and people in their national context while giving a high level of on the ground detail.
The narrator is overly emphatic and reports trivial facts with an attitude of indignant disapproval. Thus, when events which should be related with a more serious tone are read, the voice remains the same.
The book is informative and worth listening too. There is no comic relief unless you want to chuckle at the author's obvious political agenda.
The Native Americans are portrayed in a sentimentalized glow. Chiefs who made comments to the press worthy of a ten year old child are repeated by the Narrator as though the words were profoundly wise. "White men build houses in the ground!"
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