Vividly captures the controversy and pain that accompanied this reopening of a dark chapter in American history.

A MISPLACED MASSACRE

STRUGGLING OVER THE MEMORY OF SAND CREEK

A historian unravels the tangled story behind the establishment of the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site.

On November 29, 1864, with almost six months of bloody fighting remaining in the Civil War, U.S. Army Col. John Chivington and a force of Colorado militia attacked a Cheyenne and Arapaho village about 40 miles from Fort Lyon. For Chivington, the engagement was heroic, a defeat of likely Confederate sympathizers, Indians who had terrorized the frontier. For his subordinate, Silas Soule, the “battle” was a slaughter of defenseless women and children, and he ordered his men not to fire or take part in the atrocities that ensued. For George Bent, witness and survivor, the massacre at Sand Creek constituted a cultural catastrophe. These three competing narratives developed in the immediate wake of Sand Creek, and they persist more than 140 years later. Kelman (History/Univ. of California, Davis; A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans, 2003) frequently harks back to them as he recounts the effort to bring the site under the supervision of the National Park Service. Instead of the much-wished-for “healing” and “reconciliation,” in publications, in public meetings and on the Internet, old conflicts were renewed among constituencies—private landowners, the tribes and the federal government—jostling to seize control of the Sand Creek narrative. Notwithstanding broad agreement on the geographical dimensions of the site, interpreting events proved remarkably contentious. Traditional historians, ethnographers, archaeologists and cartographers all figured into the effort to memorialize Sand Creek. While Kelman makes his sympathies clear, he mostly plays it straight in presenting the various clashing viewpoints. The Sand Creek Massacre, he notes, had its origins in the fight for control of the West. The tortured cultural and political struggle to properly remember it resulted in the 391st unit of the National Park Service.

Vividly captures the controversy and pain that accompanied this reopening of a dark chapter in American history.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-674-04585-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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