Author: Brown Dee –
Publisher: Blackstone Audio –
Genre: History –
Overall rating: 5/5 –
Writing: 4/5 –
Duration: 14:20 (long)
Narrator: Grover Gardner –
Narrator/performance: 5/5 –
Impressions: n/a –
Performance errors: 1/5 –
Complexity/reading level: 3/5 –
The full title of this book is: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee. An Indian History of the American West. The book was published in 1970. The audiobook was produced in 2009 with preface written in 2000.
The book is difficult to endure though not due to the quality of the writing or narration but the heartbreaking content. I needed a few months to finish it even though I have already read the entire Lonesome Dove series by Larry McMurtry in the previous year and knew that the story would not be rosy. To stay focused, I watched several video materials. Among those, Louis Warren interviewed about the Ghost Dance and the history of Wounded Knee by Russell Means.
As a European, I had to notice similarities between the crimes against humanity committed in Europe and the crimes of the American government against the Indians. What hurt me the most was the measuring of lies, spoon feeding it to everyone concerned – to the soldiers, to the settlers, but most of all to the Indians. It seemed as if the people in power believed that a slow execution of evil deeds could justify them and settle them right.
I was able to notice again how the American judiciary may be able to shine bright among atrocities committed by those in power – as in the case of Chief Standing Bear. I was reminded how free fake information can cost people’s lives. I could observe how fear and drink drive the hearts of men to insanity. I finally understood a part of Lonesome Dove which previously eluded me: how some of the proud Native American people scattered into confusion, becoming unpredictable and lost among themselves. In the end, although told in a detached and non-committal way, I was able to hear how the spirit of man and women may return and live on, though how exactly, I may never be sure.
The cover is a true work of art, a rare thing among audiobooks. I loved the design although the smaller letters are impossible to read in small formats. It is, however, a great companion while listening. The elements of Indian culture which may be glimpsed in the quotes from historical materials provide incentives to look at historical pictures, search for chants and interviews. The cover reminds of the material culture lost among the bloodshed, adding another layer to the entire educational experience.
Cover Photo by Mike Kononov on Unsplash