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  • The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story

  • Pivotal Moments in American History
  • By: Elliott West
  • Narrated by: B. J. Harrison
  • Length: 14 hrs and 34 mins
  • 3.8 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story

By: Elliott West
Narrated by: B. J. Harrison
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Summary

This newest volume in Oxford's acclaimed Pivotal Moments series offers an unforgettable portrait of the Nez Perce War of 1877, the last great Indian conflict in American history. It was, as Elliott West shows, a tale of courage and ingenuity, of desperate struggle and shattered hope, of short-sighted government action and a doomed flight to freedom.

To tell the story, West begins with the early history of the Nez Perce and their years of friendly relations with white settlers. In an initial treaty, the Nez Perce were promised a large part of their ancestral homeland, but the discovery of gold led to a stampede of settlement within the Nez Perce land. Numerous injustices at the hands of the U.S. government, combined with the settlers' invasion, provoked this most accomodating of tribes to war.

West offers a riveting account of what came next: the harrowing flight of 800 Nez Perce, including many women, children, and elderly, across 1,500 miles of mountainous and difficult terrain. He gives a full reckoning of the campaigns and battles - and the unexpected turns, brilliant stratagems, and grand heroism that occurred along the way. And he brings to life the complex characters from both sides of the conflict, including cavalrymen, officers, politicians, and - at the center of it all - the Nez Perce themselves (the Nimiipuu, "true people").

The book sheds light on the war's legacy, including the near sainthood that was bestowed upon Chief Joseph, whose speech of surrender, "I will fight no more forever," became as celebrated as the Gettysburg Address.

Based on a rich cache of historical documents, from government and military records to contemporary interviews and newspaper reports, The Last Indian War offers a searing portrait of a moment when the American identity - who was and who was not a citizen - was being forged.

The “Pivotal Moments in American History” series seeks to unite the old and the new history, combining the insights and techniques of recent historiography with the power of traditional narrative. Each title has a strong narrative arc with drama, irony, suspense, and – most importantly – great characters who embody the human dimension of historical events. The general editors of “Pivotal Moments” are not just historians; they are popular writers themselves, and, in two cases, Pulitzer Prize winners: David Hackett Fischer, James M. McPherson, and David Greenberg. We hope you like your American History served up with verve, wit, and an eye for the telling detail!

©2009 Elliott West (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story - annoying narrative!

A very well researched book for me spoiled by the lilting, camp narrative. Most unfortunate.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Flavius Krakdaddius
  • 17-05-10

New Insights Into An Old Story

The Last Indian War was enjoyable. It is fairly accessible, and doesn't require a great deal of prior knowledge about the subject.

The download includeds a PDF timeline and map, which are very helpful in following the story.

Narrator BJ Harrison (of Classic Tales Podcast fame) does a great job of narration (the one exception being his pronunciation of the word "Willamette." Should be prounounced with the stress on the second syllable rather than the third!), particularly with all the Nez Perce names and phrases.

One minor quibble I have with the writing style is that West adds an S to the names of Native Tribes to pluralize them (i.e., Shoshone, Shoshones or Nez Perce, Nez Perces). That may well be the proper plural, but it sounds rough in my ear. I prefer Shoshone or Nez Perce without the S.

Well worth a listen.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • DAVESSMITH1
  • 14-12-10

Where the Set I will fight no more

I too enjoy listen to “The Last Indian War” once again. I was just 14 yo when we took a camping trip for 4 week (a long time ago) while mom read aloud Beal, Merrill D. "I Will Fight No More Forever"; Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1963 & “War Chief Joseph” by Helen Addison Howard and Dan L. McGrath, 1941 as we drove the trail from the Snake River and White Bird Canyon to Canada. We had Appaloosa horse and wanted to learn the history and follow the trail they took on their flight. Anybody wanting to lean the history of the Indian tribes during the 1730 to 1877 and then the war or flight to Canada from June till Oct 5, 1877 of one of the greatest Indian tribe should listen to the book. The first few chapters are slow about the growth and the health issues.

I too don’t like the use of “S” on the name but we can change that now.

4 people found this helpful

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  • gregg
  • 18-08-12

Terrible, full of contradictions

Any additional comments?

The book is so twisted with Nez Perce favoritism and old pioneer/soldier hatred that it makes for a very distorted history. This book is so full of contradictions that it will make your head spin. Hour after hour you will hear about the tremendous military prowess of this tribe, how laughable the performance of the US military was. How the indians were the master's of the battlefield that when they left it.. presumably out of boredom... they would leave behind only a few miserable and lame ponies. Imagine my surprise, when right in the middle of another battle full heroic military deeds of Nez Perce warriors and the US soldiers barely holding on to life. That all the sudden the war ends in with the tribes defeat....The reason given.... they lost too many warriors and horses.. Huh!
The author rails about the unfairness of the government for creating the Yellowstone national park kicking out and stealing what was basically the indian's own backyard. Yet when the Nez Perce flee thru that park, all the while kidnapping and shooting any tourist they happen upon. They get lost and force a white guy to act as their guide. Tell me, how do you get lost in your on back yard?
I have read and listen to many books on Native Indian & American history by other authors and have seen that Heroism and Villainy are not a monopoly by either side. Great historical events make much more sense when put in context from a fair and honest history. After listening to this book I still have no clue as to what this Nez Perce stuff was all about.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Buretto
  • 27-04-18

Solid story

A solid telling of important part of the history of native peoples in America. It's very detailed and informative about the players, motivations and conflicts which populated this story, for the most part.

I have only one minor issue with the author. While it's clear that European immigrants, white Americans, were clearly not covered in glory in the story, the author stops short of accepting the notion that there was anything like genocidal intent regarding American treatment of native peoples, *at any level* (that last part being the important point). Even by the most generous of definitions of genocide, that's untenable. By the more expansive definition accepted today (which not only includes killing and massacres, but also restricting movement, prohibiting lifestyle, stripping culture and imposing foreign religion, and stifling future generations), it's just flat out wrong. In the same vein, he accounts for the decimation in bison population as merely coincidental to European-American over-hunting and the commerce of exporting hides. While this is certainly a major cause of the drop, the author ignores any official government sanction, the intent of which may have been to render native lifestyles impossible, in an effort to promote agrarianism. That final result being wholeheartedly acknowledged by the author, just not as policy, either official or of the wink-wink variety. It's not a major part of the story, but just a bit odd.

2 people found this helpful

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  • AppleCedAR
  • 03-09-14

Well Grounded Expansion on Indian History

What made the experience of listening to The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story the most enjoyable?

In listening to the Last Indian War, I found a number of details within this book, actually filled in a lot of key details that have been missing from earlier writings. The research felt confident and comprehensive.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Chief Joseph was without question, the most memorably individual covered in this history. His name is well known but this book put away the myth and hype and provided what felt like, a very well balanced look at the man.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

From where the sun now sits, I shall fight no more.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • kent
  • 15-07-11

Narrator’s Poor Research

I am maybe two hours into the book and I am taking my head phones out and not putting them back in to listen to this. Being from Northeastern Oregon, I know and have been to many of the towns, rivers, mountains and areas that are talked about in this book. Which would be a good thing, right? But it’s bad when I cannot figure out where he is talking about because his pronunciations of the names is so horribly wrong.


I think I may have heard one or two places pronounced right so far and they are things like “Clear Water” and “Lewiston,” places that you really can’t screw up. However, when the narrator butchers just about everything else, to include “Willamette Valley” and “Willamette River,” it leads me to ask how someone can read a book and mess up Willamette, a river probably in the top 20 important rivers in the US, and not to mention the objective and subject of the Oregon Trail, about which a few pages have been written. Obviously the narrator did the author a terrible injustice by not spending the hour on the phone to ensure that his pronunciations of location were correct.


The author may have written a very interesting book that was well-researched; however, the narrator most definitely destroyed any chance of this book being appreciated by someone from the region. If you are not from the region, don’t use this guy’s pronunciation of any of the locations; you’re more likely to get them right on your own than imitating his.

2 people found this helpful

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  • E. Pearson
  • 24-08-14

I Gave Up

I believe this is an important story to be told. I'm already familiar with the Nez Perce and Chief Joseph saga, so I expected to learn more. I might try it again reading on paper, but as an audio, it was just too detailed and old-fashioned History Class style and I couldn't focus for more than a minute or two when I tried again and again to move forward. I returned the purchase.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jerry
  • 16-11-11

A well done account of NW History

As a descendant of early Northwest pioneers, much of that in close proximity to the Indian Reservations I am somewhat well versed on the Native American history of the area. This book makes the true claim that this last Indian War was in reality was a religious battle. A further salient point is the attempt to put it into context of unfolding American national history of the time. Very well worth your time listening to the account.

However no history I have read, including this one, fully reports or understand the truly strict piety of the Protestant missionaries, whether they went under the heading of Methodist or Presbyterian. The Nez Perce, as well as the Whitmans and the Cayuse, and the lower Spokanes were evangelized by pietistic disciples of the Second Great Awakening, and to some extent the burned over areas of upstate New York were transported to local reservations. That context, as well as the religious and political tensions with the Roman Catholic Black Robes provides a yet untold story of the making of Northwest history.

One problem minor problem is the white man's narration that butchers a number of both native words and other local pronunciations,

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mrs B
  • 16-04-22

Perhaps true Historical…

I’ve been reading same and around the decades of this book, wether sole bio of a warrior or collective stories of an era. This one suggests events perhaps inaccurately told which other books seemed to declare it actually happened that way. As we know during these period of time — history coming from journals , that swam on Yellowstone river and all tributaries, from witnesses? You wonder how much was written over to clear the writings that were erased to be readable and whose side the witness was. This book encourages your own thought to put together and imagine how could it had happened. It makes me think … so many!
Including both sides are lovable and hateable…
I recommend this book definitely!

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  • Will Simmons
  • 04-02-22

Weird Pronunciations Almost Ruin it

The first 90% is kind of a by-the-numbers history: not very interesting. The last 15%-ish percent is where 95% of the analysis and thoughtful response comes, and it ends in a pretty moving fashion.

The biggest problem is the narrator. Some weird, terrible pronunciations that makes it seem like he doesn't speak english and is just regurgitating sounds at times. Ex: He pronounces "St. Louis" (the city) as St. Loo-ee dozens of times. Same with "Absarokas." Instead of "ab-suh-ROH-kuhs" he just said "absorkas", like "absorb." And then little stuff like "Kee-oh-uhs" instead of "Keye-oh-uhs."

A bunch of weird little things that took me out of an otherwise average book with a good ending. Mostly examines the events from a "what Americans did was wrong" lens, which I appreciate.