Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown (Vintage Books USA, 1987, 512 pages)
How, in fact, was the west won? How does one define westward expansion–better yet, how does one define manifest destiny? Author Dee Brown provides one person;s perspective on these questions in the seminal book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
A thoroughly researched, chronological history. The book begins on the east coast of the United States and with each successive chapter explores the seminal events, both political and military, that shaped the “Indian Policy” of our new country. Brown leaves it to the reader to decide if the decisions were humane, well-intended, misguided, or cruel.
The story is told from the perspective of Native Americans and provides back stories and biographies of several prominent Native American names; Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Chief Bigfoot, Black Elk, Chief Josep, and Geronimo among others. The reader also learns about the lives of several military and political individuals charged with finding a way forward in this uncertain time and developing country. Some of their names are familiar even today, George Armstrong Custer, William Tecumseh Sherman, Nelson “Bearcoat” Miles, and George Crook. Other names have faded in time but are brought back to life, for example, First Lieutenant Charles Gatewood who successfully tracked and negotiated a peaceful surrender during the “Geronimo Campaign” in 1886. We also meet Edward Wynkoop who was assigned to several military posts during westward expansion and became a strong broker of peace and goodwill between two otherwise uneasy nations. Lastly, the reader revisits some of the most famous battles of the era; The Battle of Washita River, The Fetterman Massacre, Red Cloud’s War, Little Bighorn and, of course, Wounded Knee.
The book begins with the early days of the history of the United States and ends ends with fifty states coming into the union, stretching from sea to shining sea. It is the journey in between that makes this story engrossing. This is a worthy read for any fan of American history, political history, and military history, as, to use a cliché, the story has something for everyone.
Book review provide by Wayne B Marek.
Marek is a musician and bibliophile. In addition to two decades spent building a personal library, Wayne reads and writes regularly on topics of history, public policy, and leadership.