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Customer Review

on 16 December 2005
After finishing this book - which is predominantly a history of the American Indians as they began to suffer at the hands of the White Man in the late 19th century - I found myself wondering how on earth anyone could call it a spiritual story. It's not. In fact, for the first 150 pages there is hardly anything spiritual at all to speak of in the story; except for a "vision" of bisons, eagles and horses that Black elk has whilst sick with a delirious fever, which he and the assistant writer John Neihardt somehow insist has a spiritual connotation. Yet the book is crammed mostly with lurid recollections of massacres and confusing descriptions of tribal ceremonies, and none of it seems to speak to the global community about the Oneness of Mankind. Instead, it's an angry, bitter rant against modern man for taking the plains away from the Indians, with Black elk himself even admitting a lust for revenge toward the end of the book! Sound spiritual? Okay, the Indians were indeed robbed and brualised, but for a book to be considered a spiritual classic you'd expect a lot more insight and wisdom that what you find here. Vastly over-rated, read it only if you're interested in the history aspect. Neihardt and his publisher did well financially out of this book, peddling it as some kind of neo-religous revelation, which it isn't - and it pains me to suspect that this was actually the intention all along.
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