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Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce

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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  289 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Hidden in the shadow cast by the great western expeditions of Lewis and Clark lies another journey every bit as poignant, every bit as dramatic, and every bit as essential to an understanding of who we are as a nation -- the 1,800-mile journey made by Chief Joseph and eight hundred Nez Perce men, women, and children from their homelands in what is now eastern Oregon throug ...more
ebook, 448 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 876)
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Mark
I like Western Stuff. I like Roy Roger's cowboy films and the Calico mine ride at Knott's Berry Farm. I like listening to 1960's country music and the bronze sculptures of Frederic Remington. In other words I like the fake West, the Wild West of movies and romantic nostalgia. Kent Nerburn's chronicle of the disenfranchisement of the Nez Perce and the subsequent ethnic cleansing of this indigenous people group from their traditional tribal lands was a very difficult read. I had heard of Chief Jos ...more
Louise
This is the way history needs to be told. Piles of facts and the bland language of most text books can't convey what happened. It takes a great writer to make facts come alive. Nerburn is just that great writer who can fuse the facts and the story. As testament to Nerbern's skills as a writer, one reviewer here said he held himself to a few pages a day to make it last. I had no such discipline and, hoping for a better ending, I devoured this book ASAP.

I erroneously thought that the Chief's famou
...more
John
Great book, well-told history based more scholarly and archival research. In the tradition of Mari Sandoz, writing from inside the Indians experience as much as possible. Shows how the myth of Joseph the noble warrior developed, even as he really was more of a spiritual and logistical leader above all else (ie more concerned with making sure camps were organized well, the sick had food and were cared for, etc. than in military strategy or manuevers, which other chiefs had more of a hand in.) The ...more
Bill Buck
This is a challenging subject that has been handled by the author with an incredibly delicate approach and an engrossing style.

Like the Trail of Tears, every American should know the story of the Nez Perce (Ne-Me-Poo) tribe of eastern Oregon and their quest for freedom. The story begins in the early 1800s as the tribe offers their true friendship to the United States government. The relationship descends into deceipt as corrupt officials and greedy immigrants move in.

Chief Joseph’s father sets
...more
jeremy
kent nerburn's chief joseph & the flight of the nez perce is an engaging chronicle of the infamous 1877 ordeal endured by the nez perce people. this tragic tale follows an 800-member faction of the pacific northwest tribe driven from their longtime ancestral lands in eastern oregon and their ensuing retreat of nearly 1,200 miles (across parts of four states) while battling hostile army forces. the nez perce were able to effectively outfight and outmaneuver some 2,000 soldiers for five months ...more
Frodo
Fascinating look at the story of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indian Nation being pursued by the U.S. Military and captured 40 miles from their destination in Canada. I have known the tragic story of the Native Americans only from the victor's point of view. This was an ugly stain on our nation's history as a governing people, but a portrait and testament of dedication and commitment of the native people and Chief Joseph.
Gerald
There is a series on television entitled "American Greed" in my opinion, there is no stronger illustration of American Green than the greedy acquisition of the homeland of the people indigenous to the American continent, by our predecessors. Kent Nerburn's telling of this story is heartbreaking. His story is of the families that made up the Nez Perce Nation; it is a story of husbands and wives and their children, no different in love and affection than what I have for my family. Mostly it is a s ...more
Eileen
Sep 23, 2008 Eileen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gift-givers, historians of all sorts, serious scholars too.
This is such a good story, told from the perspective of the people who lived it, written beautifully, told movingly, and researched painstakingly. Nerburn knows his stuff; he made a scholarly research project into a human-level history. Why didn't anyone compile all these sources into literature before? Well, I'm glad Nerburn did it. Everything thinks they remember something about Chief Joseph - "I will fight no more forever" - but here is the person, growing up, living a normal life, finding no ...more
Annette
Author, sculptor, theologian, and educator, http://kentnerburn.com/ Kent Nerburn's biography begins with Lewis and Clark's encounter with the Nez Perce tribes and then details the experiences of Chief Joseph. This biography follows current historical thought that Joseph was not a war leader, but rather tried to serve as a protector of his people. A great historical read while spending the summer in western Montana, this book details events of the Nez Perce's brief 1877 resistance, their long, to ...more
Jason
Jan 05, 2015 Jason rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a great book written in a purely narrative style, and very easily readable even to someone not interested in any critical analyzation.

This is also a sad book about a man who always tried to do right by his people and got sucked into fighting a war he did not want. He deserves all the praise given to him, but for different reasons than most people think. The saddest part of the book, and I think something that is very revealing about American culture, is how near the end of his life, he w
...more
Todd Myers
A really good read, one of the better books about a well known Native American that I've read, not only about Joseph, but the Nez Perce as well. Starting out with his father and going in chronological order up to the time his father passes, and he becomes Chief of his band of the Nez Perce. Going through the settlement of white settlers in their homeland, to their flight into Buffalo Country, fighting the US Army, and attempting to reach the Old Woman Country, Canada, and join up with Sitting Bu ...more
Sara
I was rooting for the Nez Perce and everytime they got so close to something but just missed it, I was angry. It really made me feel emotion and heartbreak, and the struggle of these people. I really wish I could have gone back and helped them.
Almost like reading a novel, except it really happened.
Jeff
I have been fishing in the same lake mentioned in the book which is near the town of Joseph, Oregon.
There is a monument to Chief Joseph that is in the cemetery adjacent to the road that runs to the lake. I had heard of Chief Joseph before the fishing trip and passing by the monument while going back and forth into town re-sparked my interest. I made a mental note then to learn more and so later, I chose this book.
I wasn't disappointed at all in my selection. Anyone who desires to gain insight i
...more
Yasmin
An amazing account of a great and heroic people that went through the trials and tribulations, the horror and the agonies of coming into contact with white people. The murders and deaths of innocent women, men, elderly and children. These proud people being forced to leave their home land when all they wanted was to live in peace and in their own ways. They had no hatred for white people or Christianity. One man did not speak for them all, no one man ever did. As anyone would expect for promises ...more
Doug Mader
Correcting My 8th Grade History Lessons

The book itself is well written. It feels like it drags on, but part of that is the reality of the situation faced by the Nez Perce. The best part of the book is the story that it tells that differs so greatly from what we have been taught for so long. If you love history and the history of the U.S. West, read this book.
Bob Allen
Narrative history of the Nez Perce tribe of Idaho and their betrayal by white America that resulted in hundreds of miles of flight, accusations of barbarism, and the loss of their homelands. Debunks the myths surrounding Chief Joseph, putting his contribution in a true historical context. Left me very sad at the treatment of minority groups by majority groups.
Jeff
A fantastic yet sad story of one of America's greatest leaders; Chief Joseph guided his people through very tough times indeed, even being chased by several companies of the US Army just before the tribe nearly made it to freedom in Canada. The Nez Percé had assisted Lewis and Clark with horses and guides over the western pass known as The Bitterroot mountain range. Chief Joseph would be made famous by several of his well-known quotes including:"It does not require many words to speak the truth. ...more
Jamie
You really can't help feeling sorry for the Nez Perce people after reading this narrative. It's a moving story even if not completely supported by all specific historical data. But, Nerburn does address that issue in his epilogue.
Brian Morris
It's a sad and tragic tale from an era with plenty of such tales. But the long flight and battles with the Army make it a poignant story especially considering that the people were travelling with infants and the elderly. I was impressed by Joseph's constant commitment to the well-being of his people, especially those that were most vulnerable. Besides physical battles, there were spiritual battles among the tribe as Christianity and the old ways clashed. Truly, it was a war for the Nez Perce's ...more
Ben
Excellent book and a great chronicle of the history of the Nez Perce people and their disappointments at the hands of the US Government. The book does a great job of discussing the historical significance of the tribe outside the storied flight, and Joseph's impassioned plea to be returned to his traditional lands, all the while being shuffled along and short changed at every turn. Superb references.
Mark
This is a very well told story of Chief Joseph's life, and it fully explores not only the amazing journey he took his tribe on in attempt to resist but also escape U.S. troops, but it showed how his attempts to keep the peace were at odds with other tribal leaders and the reputation he developed as the symbol of noble Indians and resistance to white culture were resented by many tribal leaders.
Lucy
Gives depth and complexity to our understanding of Chief Joseph, who during the flight of the Nez Perce to the border of Canada was erroneously believed to be the leader of all the Nez Perce by the US Army, the press and the general white public. The military details bog down a little, but while Nerburns's research is scholarly and comprehensive, his style is refreshingly nonacademic.
Christopher
Enlightening account of the wisdom, courage, and compassion of Chief Joseph, who somehow becomes more human. The book also clarifies the myths surrounding the flight of the Nez Perce and the obsession of the government to stop them from emigrating to Canada. The book could be a little more clear on facts such as numbers, timelines, etc.
Don
A fine book, from the perspective of the natives ... But it sorta came across as geared toward kids. I read this after Eliot West's "The Last Indian War," and while I appreciated the different viewpoint, I felt as though West incorporated both perspectives well in one volume.
Joseph Boyle
This book was written in a manner that was easy to read, not too dry but gave a good representation of Chief Joseph in his true form as opposed to popular (and ignorant) opinion of the masses.
Nanette
I really liked this book, read it several years ago but the words still resonate. A must read, it's a little slow at first but read past first few chapters & you will e hooked!
Jim
Well told story of the flight of the Nez Perce putting the story of Chief Joseph in its proper context.
Major flaw that there is no index.
Luckngrace
Chief Joselph would be considered one of the great men of history by almost any measurement. My heart broke for him and his people.
Andrew Hanna
This book was a bit dense when it came to facts. But if you like History then this is a book to read.
Lindsay
I can't put in to words how I feel about the treatment of the Native Americans. Humanity at its worst.
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