The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee

Native America from 1890 to the Present
Narrated by: Tanis Parenteau
Length: 17 hrs and 44 mins
Categories: History, American
4.5 out of 5 stars (198 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Finalist for the 2019 National Book Award

Longlisted for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence

A New York Times best seller

Named a best book of 2019 by The New York Times, Time, The Washington Post, NPR, Hudson Booksellers, The New York Public Library, The Dallas Morning News, and Library Journal.

"Chapter after chapter, it's like one shattered myth after another." (NPR)

"An informed, moving and kaleidoscopic portrait... Treuer's powerful book suggests the need for soul-searching about the meanings of American history and the stories we tell ourselves about this nation's past.." (New York Times Book Review, front page)

A sweeping history - and counter-narrative - of Native American life from the Wounded Knee massacre to the present.

The received idea of Native American history - as promulgated by books like Dee Brown's mega-bestselling 1970 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - has been that American Indian history essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. Not only did 150 Sioux die at the hands of the US Cavalry, the sense was, but Native civilization did as well.

Growing up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, training as an anthropologist, and researching Native life past and present for his nonfiction and novels, David Treuer has uncovered a different narrative. Because they did not disappear - and not despite but rather because of their intense struggles to preserve their language, their traditions, their families, and their very existence - the story of American Indians since the end of the 19th century to the present is one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention.

In The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, Treuer melds history with reportage and memoir. Tracing the tribes' distinctive cultures from first contact, he explores how the depredations of each era spawned new modes of survival. The devastating seizures of land gave rise to increasingly sophisticated legal and political maneuvering that put the lie to the myth that Indians don't know or care about property. The forced assimilation of their children at government-run boarding schools incubated a unifying Native identity. Conscription in the US military and the pull of urban life brought Indians into the mainstream and modern times, even as it steered the emerging shape of self-rule and spawned a new generation of resistance. The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is the essential, intimate story of a resilient people in a transformative era.

©2019 David Treuer (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

As featured on NPR's Weekend Edition and Amanpour & Company

"An informed, moving and kaleidoscopic portrait of ‘Indian survival, resilience, adaptability, pride and place in modern life.’ Rarely has a single volume in Native American history attempted such comprehensiveness.... Ultimately, Treuer’s powerful book suggests the need for soul-searching about the meanings of American history and the stories we tell ourselves about this nation’s past." (New York Times Book Review)

"In a marvel of research and storytelling, an Ojibwe writer traces the dawning of a new resistance movement born of deep pride and a reverence for tradition. Treuer’s chronicle of rebellion and resilience is a manifesto and rallying cry." (O: The Oprah Magazine)

"Part of the magic of this book stems from Treuer’s ability to move seamlessly back and forth from the Big Indian Story to the voices of living Indians explaining to us, and to themselves, what it means to be Indian, American, and both at the same time...open[ing] a window on the contemporary Indian world, in its dazzling variety, and infus[ing] the book with a kind of vividness and punch rarely found in narrative histories.... It’s hard to imagine there will be a better, more compelling look at Indian country than this one anytime soon." (The Daily Beast)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

excellent text, awful narrator

David Treuer's book is informative, insightful, and highly interesting. However, Parenteau's mechanical, rushed delivery makes for difficult listening. Her cadence and intonation remind me of high school teachers I had who would read to the class in a very didactic manner. Some narrators allow the audience to appreciate the author's language, but with this narrator, one continuously feels that one is "being read to."

5 people found this helpful

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A great review of Native American history

This was a very insightful follow up to Dee Brown and has given me a better handle on what the post Wounded Knee world turned up... I highly recommend...

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

best book

loved the book I'm glad to find a book that went into vivid detail of the history and modern of the indigenous people. creek nation.

2 people found this helpful

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Terrible narrator!

Struggled! Only finished because I assigned it for bookclub! I liked the last 1/3 a bit because the author was talking about his experiences and, for some reason, the narrator was less dry, dull and monotone.

5 people found this helpful

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Great and engaging history

An interesting book that was easy and delightful to read, allowing us to look at Wounded Knee not as an end, but as a beginning to a wider, more engaging history of Native America to the present.

Treuer's sources are superb and wide-ranging, and he intermixes history with personal stories, allowing us a deeper look into the story he is telling.

All in all, a truly great book.

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An important reminder of what we have lost

Why was a woman selected as narrator? She’s very good but the voice of the narrator, as written, is male. Sometimes the story confused me and I had to remind myself that this is a story told as experienced by a man. Otherwise, it is a grippingly sorrowful account.

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Heartbeat of wounded knee

Important history that ought to be widely taught, shared, and learned. Book is lengthy, but every story makes it worthwhile

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Could be better

I think the title is a little misleading this book is a series of short stories mixed in with history. I will say though once you get over the title the book, it is enjoyable but could have used a better narrator.

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Disjointed

Disjointed, disorganized and tedious. This is a relatively simplistic view of the complaints that the Indians have about the way they’ve been treated their violent lifestyle and where they are today. It throws in anecdotes of violence against Indians and by Indians. It is not worth the time to read or listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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Martial arts and drugs

Save your time and money for a history lesson - this is not a book about the Native Americans