Sunday, October 24, 2010

I Am A Man

Last week the UNL Bookstore featured a book club discussion in Joe Starita's "I Am A Man", which was chosen as the One Book One Lincoln book of the year. Here's a summary from

"In 1877, Chief Standing Bear's Ponca Indian tribe was forcibly removed from their Nebraska homeland and marched to what was then known as Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in what became the tribe's own Trail of Tears." "I Am a Man" chronicles what happened when Standing Bear set off on a six-hundred-mile walk to return the body of his only son to the Ponca's traditional burial ground. Along the way, it examines the complex relationship between the United States government and this small, peaceful tribe. It looks at the legal consequences of land swaps and broken treaties, while never losing sight of the heartbreaking journey the Ponca endured."

The reviews on this page were very interesting: everyone seems to agree on the historical significance of the story, but find it less riveting than other forms of literature. This gets me thinking: how much creative liberty are we allowed to take to make a historical story more interesting to our readership? How faithful should we be to the story? Are there instances where embellishment might actually do justice to the message of the story? Can we even have objectivity when it comes to relating an historical event?

Obviously "I Am A Man" has had a powerful impact upon Lincoln, Nebraska. I think the best way to answer these sorts of questions would be to read the book for yourself!

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