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The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder: And Other True Stories from the Nebraska–Pine Ridge Border Towns

4.39  ·  Rating Details ·  61 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
The long-intertwined communities of the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation and the bordering towns in Sheridan County, Nebraska, mark their histories in sensational incidents and quiet human connections, many recorded in detail here for the first time. After covering racial unrest in the remote northwest corner of his home state of Nebraska in 1999, journalist Stew ...more
Hardcover, 378 pages
Published August 15th 2008 by Texas Tech University Press
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Community Reviews

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May 13, 2015 Abby added it
Shelves: about-a-town
This book changed my life. Or at least my experience living temporarily in Gordon, Nebraska.

I picked this out of the local library (signed copy, donated by the author) thinking it would be an anthology of some kind. I was not expecting a history of race relations in the area, beginning at the beginning with the pre-Columbian politics of the Great Plains. My reading experience was complicated by the fact that I was living with my grandparents (old, white Sandhills ranchers), and the fact that I'd
Jul 02, 2012 Jeff rated it really liked it
Excellent summary of the history of northwestern Nebraska, specifically Sheridan County, and the people and forces that formed the society of the area.

Magnuson's book informed me of much recent history of my home town. It filled in details I hadn't known, corrected misconceptions I had held, and gave me insight into the culture of the town I grew up in.

I wrestle with Magnuson's decision to tell the story in narrative nonfiction style, and Magnuson acknowledges in an author's note that he did too
Feb 17, 2010 judy rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This could be a starter book. I want to know more but, unfortunately, this is likely to be the only book that ever tries to shine an unbiased light on the complex relationships between the Oglala Lakotas of Pine Ridge and the whites in the area. I can't imagine that even an academic would care enough about the smaller incidents to delve further. I'm thankful that Magnuson did record these events. He did an superb job of trying to dig out the facts in situations where both sides automatically ...more
Aug 13, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it
Sometimes stories simply present themselves. Others need work to flush out. This one needed the work, and Stew Magnuson's exhaustive research brought this largely misrepresented and underreported history to light. Raymond Yellow Thunder serves as a catalyst for a historical review of white/Indian relations in Nebraska and the Sioux reservations. While not told in a strict, chronological fashion, the jumps in time take a moment to get used to, but once that is accomplished, the writing ...more
Sep 09, 2009 Molly rated it really liked it
This isn't an easy read. Not because it isn't well written. It's written in an easy, intelligent style. It's hard to read because it's a truth most people neither know or would believe has happened in the bountiful, immigrant loving United States, where everyone has a Nintendo and a chance to become President. No, this book isn't about Africa, or Cambodia, it's about one of the United States of America.

Magnuson does pretty well at staying objective and letting the stories, no matter how upsettin
Mar 11, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: natives
Non-fiction that reads like fiction. This is high praise, not a back-handed compliment. By weaving historical events with Yellow Thunder's death in 1972, the author shows how the act was not an isolated incident. Also, I've read plenty about AIM and its members, but this book was especially helpful with my understanding of the spirit-of-the-times leading up to its glory days.
Jun 14, 2011 Emma rated it it was amazing
This book was incredible and compulsive reading. I never knew much on the history of any Native American Indians, and was intrigued by the brief description on the back of this book. The author sweeps you up into the stories of the Nebraska border towns and gives you the background before the actual story of Raymond Yellow Thunder - a heartbreaking story that leads on to more heartbreaking stories - and takes you from the late 1800's right up to recently.
His writing is so easy to read, matter of
Jan 17, 2009 Rich rated it really liked it
Disclosure: Magnuson is an acquaintance of mine from his Cambodia days, around 10 years ago, but I've had only peripheral contact with him since.

Sometimes books that are based on extraordinary research throw too much detail at you. This one puts that detail in service of several closely related storylines, spanning two centuries and more. Characters are memorable, scenes are vivid, motivations are complex and realistic.
These are stories of the developing relationship between native Americans and
Mar 02, 2009 Tony rated it it was amazing
Very well researched piece of history of Western Nebraska, primarily Gordon and the denizens to the North, the Oglala sioux Tribe. Fascinating to read events, circumstances and thoughts of the people involved in Stew's book. I personally know many of the characters---which makes it even more interesting--and I discovered there was a history inside some of the individuals I wasn't even aware of. For example: I worked alongside Bill Cross for four years and consider him a good friend. Bill spoke ...more
May 21, 2011 Catherine rated it really liked it
Magnuson's book is an impressive undertaking - a history of 130 years in the life of the southern borders of Pine Ridge reservation and the border towns on the Nebraska side. His narrative twists and loops, moving back and forth between present and past, pulling in stories that perhaps, at first, seem like tangents until he connects and weaves them into a single whole. In places the book is a novel, peopled with imagined scenes from more than a century ago. In others Magnuson is eye-witness - ...more
Jun 04, 2009 Jennie rated it really liked it
The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder is a book (as the title implies) about the interaction between Native Americans and Anglos in the area around the Pine Ridge Reservation/ Nebraska border. There are moments of cooperation and friendship, but the stories are overwhelmingly full of distrust, violence and sometimes outright hatred. What I enjoyed most about this book was the even handed manner in which Magnuson told the stories. No one was ever sainted, no one was ever demonized- he went to great ...more
Jan 22, 2009 jeanette rated it it was amazing
Did a book review for this text and it is so well written you won't know if you are reading a novel or history. The terrible situation of Reservation Border towns is explored and the microcosm of these places represents the larger issue of how Native People are still so oppressed and "looked over" in our country. Excellent read.
Sep 18, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing
I am incensed by the behavior I read about in this book, mostly of the white residents around Pine Ridge. This book is so very readable and reports the events around south Pine Ridge, trying so hard to be unbiased but it must have been very hard not to slam the actions of some of the white residents of the area. I highly recommend this book.
Todd Tystad
Jun 10, 2011 Todd Tystad rated it it was amazing
This book by my buddy Stew just happens to be one of my favorite books of the past several years. His knowledge of the people and the culture of the reservation border towns is extraordinary and he has written an amazing book. I highly recommend it to anyone who has even a passing interest in the topic. You will not be disappointed.
Robert Marsh
Aug 27, 2010 Robert Marsh rated it it was amazing
History, politics, racism, greed. Plus death and injustice. This book has it all. Stew Magnuson shines a light on Nebraska's snub-nose panhandle and exposes a shocking continuity of callous behavior. And he does so in concise and precise prose. Very well written and highly recommended.
Jun 18, 2012 Cynthia rated it really liked it
I'm going to give this 4 based on the content alone. Jumping forward and back in time made this hard to follow in places but a very interesting tale on the lives of Indians on and near the Pine Ridge reservation.
Oct 04, 2010 stellajames rated it it was amazing
I loved how the author mixed history (150 years ago -+) into these stories. The writing is great. The book seems to give fair play to both sides of the border.
Jan Kramer
Jun 10, 2009 Jan Kramer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
anamazing recounting of historical incidents on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The author is from Stapleton, Nebraska.
Apr 22, 2012 Lynette rated it it was amazing
Very well presented book. The only issue I had was the choice of font size, it was small.
Granted it is a lot of information, but the type could have been bigger.
Sep 17, 2012 Meno rated it really liked it
Excellent history of the the ongoing impact of the settlement of sandhills of Nebraska on the Lakota, using much 1st person narrative from the people involved both native and immigrant.
Jan 28, 2009 Stew rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This is the best nonfiction book I've ever written!
Barbara Brannon
Jan 27, 2009 Barbara Brannon rated it it was amazing
One of the best nonfiction books I've read all year.
Robert Barnes
Jan 04, 2010 Robert Barnes rated it liked it
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Robert by: no one
AIM had a big party at the Holiday Inn in Minneapolis with the 66K from the BIA takeover. They were after the Gildersleeves credit books and the destruction of the store at Wounded Knee caused problems for residents.They had telephone trees and a coterie of liberals to help them out who Magnuson accurately refers to as their friends.
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. A well-written and researched history of the area and events.
Colleen Moore
Feb 01, 2011 Colleen Moore rated it it was amazing
Great book describing the agonies and misunderstanding of cultural clashes on the borders of the rez. History and journalism, responsible, empathetic.
Carol rated it really liked it
Mar 29, 2013
Luellen rated it it was amazing
Jun 02, 2009
Anne rated it liked it
Apr 19, 2010
Bekah Cooper
Bekah Cooper rated it it was amazing
Jan 23, 2016
Kyle rated it it was amazing
Jan 22, 2011
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Stew Magnuson is the author of The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder: And Other True Stories from the Nebraska-Pine Ridge Border Towns, a nonfiction history spanning 130 years in the lives of two communities -- the white settler towns in Sheridan County, Nebraska, and the Oglala Lakotas of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
A native of Omaha and a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Li
More about Stew Magnuson...

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