Sunday, 5 July 2015

The Heart of Everything that Is: Book Reviews

Reviewing a book--- writing a book review—can be a tricky business. Is the review supposed to glow uncritically, even effusively, about the book? Should it be critical—in an analytical, constructive sense? The former does not serve a real purpose. The latter can be difficult to find. But when a thoughtful, critically constructive review does appear, in itself it is worth a mention. And such a review is available at this link; original review at this link. 

That  article discusses the book, “The Heart of Everything that Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud”, written by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin. The article, by Four Arrows,  takes issue with the “anti-Indian” narrative throughout the book. It offers several examples that are woven throughout the book, where the overall picture presented is one of American Indians as primitive --and viciously violent as an end in itself. The article also refers to this review  by Tim Giago, who is an Oglala Lakota.  Giago’s review provides an American Indian’s view of a book written about American Indians. And Giago has very little positive to say about this book, noting that fails to present an indigenous perspective on its subject matter. 

These two commentaries on the book are perhaps worth reading ahead of the book—and to be borne in mind when reading it. I have also read the book, at the same time I was viewing the National Museum of the American Indian “Nation to Nation:Treaties Between the United States and the American Indian Nations” exhibit.  The timeline of the book is covered within the exhibit, as are the treaties discussed in the book. An entirely different point of view and of relevant information is given at the exhibit. The difference between the narrative of the book and of the exhibit were jarring—underscoring the point made in the 2 reviews of the book that who is telling the “story” makes a world of difference in whose voice is heard, and how events, and indeed indigenous peoples, are presented. 

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