This is a history of the conquest of the American West from the viewpoint of the Indians displaced by white settlement, covering the period from about 1860 to 1890. Dee tells the stories of the most famous Indian tribes and their leaders - Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, etc.; and the most famous conflicts between settlers, soldiers, and the tribes. Each chapter is headed by evocative quotes from Native Americans, by a list of items chronologically situating the events within a framework of shockingly modern milestones of Western culture: the publication of Alice in Wonderland, the invention of the telephone. The narration is based on eyewitness accounts and government records and heavily uses direct quotes, to excellent effect. Brown also uses Indian names for soldiers they deal with ('Long Hair Custer') and the seasons, so that it's impossible to resist being totally drawn into the Native American point of view of the conflict.
I can understand why this book has been so enduringly popular, and why it made such a sensation when released in 1970 - it goes against all the myths we hold sacred about the honor of the United States. America was ready for that in 1970, especially with the conflict in Vietnam. Here, have a big heaping helping of white guilt.
It's heart-rending to read about culture after culture being destroyed, about so many lives lost and opportunities lost due to chance and stupidity and hatred.
It almost seemed like a crime to read story after amazing story in such a concise way. I really want to know more. There's 20 movie plots in here, at least.