Arts & Entertainment
Review: 'In the Shadow of Wounded Knee'

"'In the Shadow of Wounded Knee' is a scrap of a history book, touching in the amateurishness of its writing and bracing in its definition of certain moral challenges faced by an exuberant new nation spilling over its colonial boundaries in full flood a hundred and more years ago.

Its subject is the tail-end of the Indian Wars. By the time they had petered out with the massacre of at least 150 Lakota Sioux at Wounded Knee Creek in 1890, the Indian Wars had become an embarrassment to most white Americans. For Native Americans, they resulted in generation after generation of humiliation, degradation and tragedy.

Roger L. Di Silvestro, an editor at National Wildlife magazine and author of eight books, is obviously intrigued by the currents and counter-currents of American whites' attitudes toward Native Americans, and he tries hard to convey these complexities to readers more than a century later. He mostly succeeds, though his narrative skill does not match his zeal.

Initially, the reader is left wandering in circles through the history of relations between the bewildered Lakota and the whites pouring into the Dakota territory.

Presently, though, Di Silvestro grabs hold of his story. It is, in a word, haunting. Its supernatural elements arrive with the ghost dance, a mystical religion that swept Native Americans near the end of the 19th century � with tragic consequences."

Get the Story:
Book Review: The taming of the Wild West and its prejudices (The Los Angeles Times 2/17)

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