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Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  92 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
On December 29, 1890, American troops opened fire with howitzers on hundreds of unarmed Lakota Sioux men, women, and children near Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, killing nearly 300 Sioux. As acclaimed historian Heather Cox Richardson shows in Wounded Knee, the massacre grew out of a set of political forces all too familiar to us today: fierce partisanship, heated poli ...more
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Published May 25th 2010 by Basic Books (AZ) (first published November 14th 2009)
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Rena Jane
Feb 16, 2011 Rena Jane rated it it was amazing
Heather Cox Richardson has very honestly, and clearly described the political, economic and social destruction of the Minneconjou and Oglala groups who were massacred at Wounded Knee. The most disturbing part of this historical account is that the over-reactionary military was given awards and promotions for murdering women and children in cold blood. Some military leaders, like William Tecumseh Sherman and Nelson Miles who made some attempts to slow or stop the military bloodshed, were blamed f ...more
Margaret Sankey
Sep 08, 2013 Margaret Sankey rated it really liked it
Cox Richardson sets the 1890 massacre in the vital context of the 1888 Presidential election of Harrison, the political appointment of hacks to the civil service, the pressure to make the Dakota Territory into multiple voting states for Senate and Electoral College leverage, the election of senators by state legislatures (which means sucking up to local S. Dakota people), the 1890 midterm elections, the rise of Alliances for silver currency, that forbidding people to eat offal leads to malnutrit ...more
Socraticgadfly
Mar 20, 2016 Socraticgadfly rated it it was amazing
Great companion to the likes of 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee'

Richardson puts a fair amount of the problems in the crosshairs of President Benjamin Harrison, with this book almost a mini-bio of his administration.

The push for admitting western territories as states, including splitting Dakota Territory into two, is one part of the problem. Richardson shows how it was compounded by the Dawes Act, pushed through during Cleveland's first administration. She shows that the "sound money"/high tariff
...more
Wendell Hennan
an important read with the first 100 pages discussing the economic woes of the late 19th century and the Republicans efforts to grow the economy and get President Benjamin Harrison elected. The gap between rich and poor was ever widening and tariffs imposed to protect American products provided the government with needed revenue but increased prices greatly. It was advantageous to reclaim much of Indian land in the west to enable the building of railway lines to areas that would become the new s ...more
David
Aug 04, 2016 David rated it it was amazing
However much things change, there are constants. This involves a tragedy where Indian Agents were replaced by Party Hacks, states were created so the Republicans could gain more Senators, and lot more besides. The battle itself takes up on a small part of the book. This tale tells the story of those whose greed, for land, for power, for wealth, all combined to create the perfect conditions for a massacre. It's a sad story, and there is an interesting account at the end of the book, of the battle ...more
Stew
Aug 16, 2010 Stew rated it really liked it
For most Lakotas, the Wounded Massacre was just that — the ruthless slaughter of the mostly unarmed followers of Chief Big Foot on Dec. 29, 1890.
For some historians, it was either an accident — and a few even believe — a real battle where two armed sides were pitted against each other.
It is destined to be one of those tragedies that will be debated endlessly.
There have been many good blow-by-blow accounts of the events leading to the horrific incident — Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Kne
...more
Daniel  Guggisberg
People in this country ought to pay more attention to this nation’s history, for the old saying that “history repeats itself” is so very much evident with this book. The same congressional gridlock, the same gerrymandering of election districts, the same strong-arm politics by the people in power and yes, the same corruption and catering to special interests. Back in the 1880′s and 1890′s the Lakota people had to suffer in the great power play of Washington, a people without rights and without v ...more
Bruce
Apr 25, 2012 Bruce rated it it was amazing
Richardson has used an American atrocity to show how party politics affects policy development. Some of the chapters deal with the Native Americans while others cover the 'white' America of the time. It was the 'Gilded Age'. American was moving west and the unfortunate Native Americans were in the way of economic development. The Republicans under President Benjamin Harrison were advocates of a high tariff to protect industrialists and financiers. [Now Republicans want low tax rates for the weal ...more
Jared Lovell
Apr 19, 2013 Jared Lovell rated it really liked it
This is an original and well researched work. Richardson goes beyond simply detailing the account of the events at Wounded Knee to connect them back to politics and policies of the Republican party in Washington during the Benjamin Harrison administration. Very well done.

However, I do have some problems. The is lacking somewhat in its economic analysis. Richardson does spend considerable time pointing out the Republicans push for higher and higher tariffs, but in the end tends to attribute the
...more
Louise
Dec 22, 2012 Louise rated it it was amazing
While other accounts have told of the logistics and the sad aftermath of Wounded Knee, this book is the first I know of to deal with the electoral politics that laid the foundation for it.

Like most Americans I did not know why we have a North and South Dakota. This book tells it straight out. President Harrison and his team felt they could get 4 Republican senators (instead of 2) from the Dakota Territory. Harrison wanted/needed the expected Republican electoral votes for the 1892 presidential e
...more
John
Oct 23, 2013 John rated it really liked it
The late 19th century isn't my wheelhouse at all, but I think even people who aren't particularly enamored of that era will find this book interesting. People tend to treat events like Wounded Knee and other Indian massacres, and other events during the Indian Wars, as events that took place in the West and are therefore western history, and have little to do with US economic or political history. It's just an easy knee jerk reaction - we think we already know why Indian massacres took place. Ri ...more
Craig
A little too opinionated at times, and very hard (although perhaps deservedly so?) on Benjamin Harrison and his Republican cronies, but an interesting perspective that the tragedy at Wounded Knee against the Sioux Indians was mostly motivated by party politics (less Indians meant more settlers and more settlers meant Republican voters). So while the book does a good job of going back and forth between politics and the Indian Wars, it does suffer a little in that it almost goes back and forth too ...more
Sherri
This book is a very interesting account of politics in the Gilded Era and who those politics influenced events in settling the West. As somebody who few up in and currently lives in South Dakota, I found the book particularly interesting. There are many details about the history of South Dakota that I never knew.

But this book should be read by anybody wanting to understand Native Americans and how the policies set in motion in 1887 continue to have adverse effects today.

If you don't know anyth
...more
Sam
Dec 29, 2015 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wounded-knee
Richardsons's book is phenomenally researched and reads well. By focusing on the political aspect of the Harrison administration, she presents a facet of Wounded Knee and the Indian Wars that is usually treated only peripherally.

This book would easily be five stars if not for the same poorly researched, regurgitated version of the actual battle of Wounded Knee. Like most every author in the past 50 years, she dismisses out of hand 90% of the testimonies and documents that exist in the National
...more
John
Mar 02, 2012 John rated it it was amazing
one hundred and twenty three years later and its as though we as a nation have learned nothing. This is more a book about national politics and just how a political party that is saddled with people that are self serving, short sighted and unwilling to compromise can create situations that can send the country into financial ruin, destroy lives and yet cling to the principle of "It's not our fault." After reading this book you will come away with the thought that President Harrison was truly Ame ...more
Tacodisc
May 17, 2016 Tacodisc rated it it was amazing
"Behind the material and intellectual splendor of our civilization, primitive savagery and cruelty and lust hold sway" -Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman
Viann Beadle
Mar 09, 2013 Viann Beadle rated it it was amazing
Everything old is new again. If you are Republican, you will hate this book and call it biased. If you're not, you'll see amazing similarities between the Gilded Age and current affairs. The description of the massacre is breathtaking and gives lie to the concept of "American Exceptionalism". Read this book along with Kenneth Davis' "A Nation Rising" to really arouse your ire over the fate of the Native American in the face of western expansionism.
Meghan
Jun 24, 2011 Meghan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The massacre at Wounded Knee is a heartbreaking story. This is an important book because Richardson deftly places the event in a context of political machinations in Washington. She brings the Harrison presidency back into the light, demonstrating its inefficacy and craven attitude toward the Sioux peoples. Most importantly, I think, is the overwhelming similarity between the Republican party in the 1890s and the Republican party today.
John Daly
Jan 14, 2013 John Daly rated it really liked it
The book provides a view of the disaster for the Sioux in the later part of the 19th century, but more important it explains the political and bureaucratic background to the government's actions. We live today with politics that stem from the political decisions made at that time which created new states with small populations that have been Republican and conservative, as they were intended to be.
Debra
Jan 20, 2013 Debra rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, history
An engagingly written, convincing theory that the Wounded Knee massacre was caused by stupidity and venality of American politics and military striving. Many unspoken correlations with current headlines. Sigh.
Phil Robinson
Oct 04, 2010 Phil Robinson rated it it was amazing
the parallels between events today and those surrounding the vilification and destruction of the last vestiges of native american culture are shocking. Exceptionally well written and compelling.
Amanda Rose
Aug 16, 2012 Amanda Rose rated it it was amazing


One of the best books on the 19th C West I've read. Very skillfully places events and people in their national context while giving a high level of on the ground detail.
BurntOrangeOwl
May 30, 2016 BurntOrangeOwl rated it it was amazing
Great. Really shows how Eastern politics affected Western lives, yet not without emotional content. Good history.
EC
Dec 13, 2012 EC rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, own
I learned a lot from this book.
Tim Linder
Tim Linder marked it as to-read
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Jul 25, 2016
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