• The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee

  • Native America from 1890 to the Present
  • By: David Treuer
  • Narrated by: Tanis Parenteau
  • Length: 17 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (312 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 listeners say about The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee

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  • Overall
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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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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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  • LB
  • 12-28-20

Highly recommended

Great book. A true American history through a Native lens. You will most likely gain an abundance of valuable knowledge that will enlighten your perspective of the indigenous people of North America.

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Wonderful Syory.

Amazing I story of Native American Indian Red Cloud’s life. I could not stop listening to this marvelous story.

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Well worth the listen

I enjoy hearing people’s stories. There are lots of those here. But there is a horrifying history that, of course, we were never taught. This book is a necessary summation of what was done to indigenous people.

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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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The Beat Goes On...The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee

I will listen to the book again and pass it on to others. I plan to buy the print version for my grandsons. The narrator’s beautiful voice, its tone and cadence, makes the stories glorious and grim come alive for the listener. Aside from that this storyteller imparts history from a different vantage point that all Americans should hear and read. I was engaged and moved by this book. I hope you will be as well.

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macro and micro views

What this book did that was different than other history books I've read centering Indigenous life and struggles, on-going, for justice and sovereignty, is zoom out and then in on the myriad differences among Indian nations expanding and deepening our awareness of them. You can't read this book and then think there was and is one way to be an Indian--in any regard: politically, culturally, economically, spiritually. And we learn the tribal names we are most familiar with are often umbrella terms for many more who came before. The personal stories compliment the broader themes wonderfully.

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Could Become a Standard

This book has done a marvelous job of explaining the changes across Indian country in America. Provides insight into how and why the tribes function is they do, most very different from each other. While I do not agree with all of the author's conclusions, I think this book is going to become a standard as far as contemporary works on Native country in America. While I have noticed that some did not like the narrator, I did not find her rendering of the book at all distracting. I would highly recommend this work for anyone who has an interest in American Indian culture contemporary history. Well done!