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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 (121 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award

Longlisted for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence

New York Times Best Seller

"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-best-selling 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

“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)

Sweeping, consistently illuminating and personal.... This engrossing volume should interest anyone who wants to better understand how Native Americans have struggled to preserve their tribes and cultures, using resourcefulness and reinvention in the face of overwhelming opposition.” (BookPage, starred) 

“Treuer is an easy companion: thoughtful, provocative, and challenging. He tells a disturbing yet heroic story that may very well be seen as a definition of ‘American exceptionalism.’” (Washington Post)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    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 of 2 people found this review helpful

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

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...

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Cheryl w
  • mountain view, ca United States
  • 05-04-19

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.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 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."

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Martial arts and drugs

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

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

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 of 5 people found this review helpful