Monday, July 28, 2008

Nonfiction Monday

First, a few announcements

My Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire contest was won by Miss Erin. (It's in the mail!)

Also, the Minx title Burnout , which I reviewed this spring is now out and available for purchase.

Anyway, it's Nonfiction Monday. I will be honest and say that this review draws heavily from the review I wrote for class.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West Dee Brown

A little background-- I had to read 2 non-fiction YA books for class. This title really is an adult title, but it was on the YA shelves at work because it is used a lot in classrooms. I've been meaning to read this for awhile, so I picked it up. Because when I have to read a bunch of books for school, I don't take the easy way, no siree bob. Let me pick a book with 400 pages! GO ME!

In this impressive work, Brown chronicles the Indian Wars of nineteenth century, from the Native American point of view. Each chapter chronicles the sufferings of a different tribe as the work moves through time. Meticulously researched (although only direct quotations are sourced), Brown relies on the voices of the time period. Each chapter opens with significant events in world history as the century progresses, and relevant quotations from the players in that chapter’s narrative. The style of the chapters changes, as they are told in what assumes is the traditional narrative style of the tribe or nation being discussed. Photographs, often posed portraits, are sprinkled throughout, as well as traditional Native American chants, complete with musical notation.

Due to the changing geographic nature of the story, the book would benefit greatly from the inclusion of at least one map. (Although this one is really helpful if you want to read next to your computer. I know it looks small, but if you click on it, it enlarges.) Also, due to the overlapping nature of many of the stories told, a comprehensive timeline would also be helpful. A list of people mentioned in the book would also be helpful. Sometimes players emerge chapters later, sometimes players have multiple names. This multiple naming is especially true of the white generals and administrators who were given different names in different languages.

Despite its flaws, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is an important work to balance out the historical record. The narrative’s story-telling style adds to the power of the work, as well as making this often over-looked side of history gut-wrenching and accessible to high school readers. Contains table of contents, bibliography, and full index. Photo credits included in captions. Recommended for collections catering to a high school audience or older.

Round up is at Picture Book of the Day!


Nymeth said...

Even with the flaws this sounds like a very interesting and important book. Thanks for the review.

Jennie said...

Very interesting and really important. Especially because when it came out, the record was very imbalanced. I think that has corrected itself somewhat, but mainly because of this book.