Friday, November 25, 2016

My Favorite Book, Part 4

Plenty of historians pooh-pooh Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, complaining, among other things, it’s one-sided.
Two things about that.
First of all, Brown’s stated intention was to present the history of westward expansion from the perspective of the Indian tribes, which he did.
Second, it’s not as if the histories scholars had given us until that time were in any sense balanced. In fact, virtually no historian gave a fig about the Indian side of things until Brigham Madsen started researching and writing about it back in the 1950s. And very few followed suit until Brown’s book popularized the approach.
All that aside, Brown’s book opened the eyes of many Americans when it was released back in 1970. It certainly opened mine when I read it a year or two later while in college. (I wore out the mass-market paperback I bought back then and years ago upgraded to a trade paperback edition.) It was—and is—fascinating reading. Engaging, certainly, and informative. Even entertaining, though not in the traditional sense.
If you haven’t read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee do so. It’s still in print and readily available all these years later.
And don’t worry if you find it not exactly balanced—there are shelves full of history books that upset the scales in the other direction.

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