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The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  2,056 ratings  ·  298 reviews

A magisterial, essential history of the struggle between whites and Native Americans over the fate of the West.

After the Civil War, the United States turned its attention to conquering the Great Plains and the lands beyond. The expansion of the country and discoveries of gold drew whites to territory traditionally claimed by Indians. The Indian Wars would last more than th

Hardcover, 1st edition, 544 pages
Published October 25th 2016 by Knopf
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Kevin Keating I started it in book form but then had a six-hour drive and listened to it from an download.

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Start your review of The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West
It was the fourth day after Christmas in the Year of Our Lord 1890. When the first torn and bleeding bodies were carried into the candlelit church, those who were conscious could see Christmas greenery hanging from the open rafters. Across the chancel front above the pulpit was strung a crudely lettered banner: PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TO MEN.
-- closing lines of Dee Brown’s Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee

Peter Cozzens The Earth is Weeping is one of the finest books on the Indian Wars I’ve ever re
David Eppenstein
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
In the past few years I have read several books dealing with individual Native Americans or with some of the theaters of operation in the conflicts with native Americans. Most of these books were excellent but this book offers the most comprehensive recitation of the events occurring during the decades long struggles between the Indians and the encroachment of white settlers and the Army. Other books I've read offered more details regarding the specific events occurring in specific limited areas ...more
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: america
"Our nation is melting away like snow on the hills, while your people are like blades of grass in the spring." - Red Cloud

This is a well researched military-political history of the American Indian Wars. The author Peter Cozzens has written for over thirty years mainly on the American Civil War. He won many awards, including for this 2016 book. It is not only told from the side of the army. Cozzens does a good job covering native tribes, people and customs. Federal policy and public opinion infl
Dan Lutts
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
In April 1863, Chief Lean Bear of the Southern Cheyennes met with President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln told him that the only way the Indians could survive the migration of whites to the Indian lands in the Great Plains was to become "civilized" and farm their land on their reservations like the white people. Lincoln gave Lean Bear a bronzed-copper peace medal as a sign of friendship and papers he signed proclaiming Lean Bear's friendship with the whites.

In 1864, Colonel John Chivington used ques
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
When I was young, THE book to read on the various American Indian wars was Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West. Everyone read it. It was one of those rare books that come along at point in history (1970, Vietnam, general civil unrest) that captures the imagination of an entire country. It was time and place thing.

Peter Cozzens, in his prologue, while acknowledging the passionate and elegant writing of Dee Brown, takes some issue with Brown's one-sided focus on
Feb 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
'The Earth is Weeping' has the widest scope of any book on the Indian Wars I have yet read. This is both a positive and a negative. It makes for a great introductory work, but Cozzens is forced to rush through some aspects of the conflicts for the sake of page count. The Sioux Wars are well covered, but the Comanche, Nez Perce and even Apache conflicts leave the reader wanting more. I recommend SC Gwynne's 'Empire of the Summer Moon' for a deeper dive on Quanah Parker and the Comanches, while Hu ...more
Larry Bassett
this book starts out with a statement from the author that suggests that the book Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee has been the only substantial book about Indian history for many years. But he asserts that book was told solely from the point of view of the Indian and is thus biased. His book on the other hand has used primary source material that allows him to present native American history more accurately. The last quarter of this book is footnotes making it clear he has tried to back up his cla ...more
Alan Tomkins-Raney
Incredibly detailed, always fascinating, and utterly gripping account of the various Indian wars throughout the American west in the last half of the nineteenth century. It's a lot to cover, and the author does an impressive job. I'm sure each conflict alone could be the subject of a very interesting history book, but we get the overall history in an organized fashion focusing on different regions in the West in turn. Told primarily from the perspective of the various tribes and the U.S. militar ...more
Charles Haywood
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
“The Earth Is Weeping” offers an almost painfully even-handed look at the conflicts between the United States and American Indian tribes after the Civil War. Of course, given the historiography of the past fifty years, an even-handed look necessarily inverts the traditional narrative. Here, Team Indian does good and bad, and Team White does good and bad, each according to its own internal dictates of morality and external dictates of practicality and need. The Sioux are expelled from their land— ...more
Colleen Browne
May 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
I would actually give this book a 3 and a half. There were certainly characteristics of the book that compelled me to rate what might otherwise have received 5 stars, this lower rating. First, it is well written and researched, the writing flows, and the prose keeps the reader engaged. The reason for the less than perfect score was the perspective of the author which seemed to be one that gave the ultimate responsibility for the bloodbath that took place in the country to bad policy, incompetent ...more
Sean Chick
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The current narrative of the Indian Wars is one where evil whites come and take the land from helpless Indians. Cozzens disagrees with the overall structure of this interpretation, while never doubting that America was certainly in the wrong. These were mostly wars of conquest. His goal here is give us the complications in that narrative that ultimately make it a story with much more pathos and tragedy, a welcome thing in our Manichean age. Considering what I have seen in Cozzens' other books, t ...more
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Colonel John Gibbon, a significant participant in the wars that the United States waged against its native inhabitants, wrote about them in 1875:
Put yourself in his place and let the white man ask himself the question, What would I do if treated as the Indian has been and is? Suppose a race superior to mine were to land upon the shores of this great continent, trade or cheat us out of our land foot by foot, gradually encroach upon our domain until we were finally driven, a degraded demoralize
Christopher Saunders
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Cozzens, a veteran Civil War historian, turns his attentions to America's bloody twilight wars against Native Americans between 1865 and 1890. It's the tragic stuff of legends, movies and a million history works, yet Cozzens manages to make the familiar topic fresh and invigorating again. He crisply recounts battles and personalities both familiar (Custer's Last Stand, Geronimo's Apache terror campaign) and obscure (California's Modoc War, the extirpation of the Utes) while offering often-penetr ...more
Jeff Francis
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Late in Peter Cozzens’s “The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West,” a passage describes how Sitting Bull—after having traveled the country with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show in 1885—sought to debunk the notion that all white men universally worshiped the Great Father (the Indian name for whoever was the U.S. President):

First, Sitting Bull set his people straight on the Great Father. The agents had lied: white men did not hold the Great Father sacred. On
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Four stars means "I really liked it," which is hard to reconcile with a narrative that reads like an opening of many raw, festering wounds. The eye and the mind strain to examine too directly and too long this repetitive chronicle of avarice and deception, bloodshed and misery. While the events of the various conflicts and lives of the relevant participants are thoroughly and astutely detailed, the author does not expressly identify the central disturbing irony of so-titled Indian Wars, which is ...more
Luke Gardiner
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant book! This book was a page turner from beginning to end, and was an easy read for somebody not very well versed in the history that it discusses. Cozzens has the gift of being able to beautiful illustrate the history he describes, whether that be terse negotiations or all out battles, and it makes the book a compelling one. It depicts the Indian Wars in intimate detail and seems to miss out very little. The book is also very fact driven but also tells an evenhanded story, both depict ...more
James Murphy
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Story is an important word in the title. The Earth Is Weeping is history and good history, but there's much more narrative, description, and biographical portrait than there is analysis. This story has been told before but perhaps not with this clarity and understanding of the cultures in such frictioned contact that it resulted in the death of one and the rush to greatness of the other. Cozzens demonstrates that the result couldn't have been any other than the one we know.

We learn early on that
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-history
Peter Cozzens aims his formidable historical and narrative powers at the wars between the American Indians and the US government after the Civil War until their winding down, culminating with the Wounded Knee massacre (it's stretching things to call it a battle) in 1891. In spite of the eventual (and probably inevitable) outcome of these wars, let no one imagine that the US Army had an easy time of it; the native tribes had serious fighting skills, honed by many years of fighting with each other ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
A disappointing way to end the year. The book markets itself (in the preface) as a correction to "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," saying it will tell the story of the "Indian Wars" out West from a balanced "both sides" perspective. Unfortunately, it ends up doing nothing of the sort.

First, the good: from a military history perspective, this book has done a good job summarizing the various movements of forces and battles that led to Native Americans being entirely dispossessed of their land and f
Bill Yeadon
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any student of American History
I am not sure why I continue reading books on Indian history as I am always so sad upon completion. The author started the book with an interesting comment. he stated that for most of the 19th and 20th century most people sided with the white people, but in 1970 Dee Brown wrote Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and the movie Little Big Man was released. The tide turned and now most people felt the Indians were treated horribly. It appeared more like genocide.

Having grown up with Westerns and shows l
Mike Kershaw
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Between a Rock and a Hard Place”, Book review of Peter Cozzens’s, The Earth is Weeping by Colonel (ret) Mike Kershaw. For those who have found themselves at cross-purposes with their mission, in this most recent conflict, you might appreciate Peter Cozzens’ perspective of the US Army in its conflict with the Plains Indians in the post-Civil War period. Peter Cozzens is a Foreign Service officer who has written previously on the Civil War but recently turned his attention to various aspects of t ...more
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
A truly wonderful book depicting the murder of native americans by the U.S. government. No one ever mentions " genocide ", but it truly was. The white man systematically wiped out scores of Indians from North America. The U.S. never acknowledges this and to this day think that they are the superior nation on earth. They scorched and burned the Middle East and left it in chaos and now they are pivoting to Asia. We f*cked up the Middle East and now let's do that to Asia. Wonderful country **sarcas ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A balanced and engaging read. Cozzens' sweeping account covers all the main campaigns and major battles, but what makes his book unique is its focus on the impact of both internal tribal factionalism and inter-tribal conflict on the inevitable outcome. If you are looking for the definitive one-volume overview of United States' conquest of the American West (1860-1891), in my opinion this is it. ...more
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, war, history
I've read several books on this subject. Other than "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" and "Empire of the Summer Moon", none hold a candle to "The Earth is Weeping" by Peter Cozzens. For its breadth, quality of writing, detail, even-handedness, and understanding of the big picture, this book is outstanding.
As is well-known, the treatment of Native Americans throughout history has been one continuous tragedy. Broken promises, duplicity, and lies, and theft are near constants. This book reaffirms the
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While I do not agree with all of Cozzens points, this is by far one of the finest pieces of American history I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Well sourced, incredibly well written, and engaging I highly reccomend this book to anyone seeking to learn more about the American west or the history of western American Indians and the US government's relationship with them. ...more
Angelique Simonsen
This is incredibly unbiased and a fascinating read. There were great fighters on both sides and many heroes too. Not every white man was racist or apathetic to the Native Americans plight.
I hate the word progress though it sure has a lot to answer for in colonial settlements.
Heinz Reinhardt
Dec 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Review forthcoming.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I rarely, if ever, give five stars. Excellently detailed, this book increased my level of education on the Indian Wars by about 700%.
Jim Gallen
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“The Earth is Weeping” is a thorough history of the Indian Wars from the end of The Civil War to the battle of Wounded Knee in 1890. I had not read much about the Indian Wars. My familiarity was with names of individuals and battles without much continuity. This book introduces the characters and places them in their geographical and chronological contexts. I now know that Red Cloud fought on the Northern Plains, where Fetterman was killed, that Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse fought in Wyoming and ...more
Jon Terry
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
The author said that he tried to re-examine the white and Indian relationships, and not to vilify either side, as has been done in the past, but to see both sides for what they were. It seems to me that he did a good job of it. Lots of detailed descriptions of battles and skirmishes, which grew boring for me, and I sometimes felt like I was missing the forest for the trees with this book. But I learned a lot.

Some major takeaways for me:

- Many of the Indian tribes were peaceful, but many foster
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Peter Cozzens is the award-winning author of seventeen books on the American Civil War and the American West. Cozzens also is a retired Foreign Service Officer, U. S. Department of State.

Cozzens's next book, Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation, will be published by Knopf in October 2020.

His The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West

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“Put yourself in his place and let the white man ask himself this question: What would I do if threatened as the Indian has been and is? Suppose a race superior to mine were to land upon the shores of this great continent, trade or cheat us out of our land foot by foot, gradually encroach upon our domain until we were finally driven, a degraded, demoralized band into a small corner of the continent, where to live at all it was necessary to steal, perhaps to do worse? Suppose that in a spirit of justice, this superior race should recognize the fact that it was in duty bound to place food in our mouths and blankets on our backs, what would we do in the premises? I have seen one who hates an Indian as he does a snake, and thinks there is no good Indian but a dead one, on having the proposition put to him in this way, grind his teeth in rage and exclaim, “I would cut the heart out of everyone I could lay my hand on,” and so he would; and so we all would.” 2 likes
“I do not wonder, and you will not either, that when Indians see their wives and children starving and their last source of supplies cut off, they go to war. And then we are sent out there to kill them. It is an outrage. All tribes tell the same story. They are surrounded on all sides, the game is destroyed or driven away, they are left to starve, and there remains but one thing for them to do—fight while they can. Our treatment of the Indian is an outrage.” 2 likes
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