Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review: An Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Released: 2012
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Goodreads Description:

The Inconvenient Indian is at once a “history” and the complete subversion of a history—in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be “Indian” in North America.

Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, this book distills the insights gleaned from that meditation, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.

This is a book both timeless and timely, burnished with anger but tempered by wit, and ultimately a hard-won offering of hope -- a sometimes inconvenient, but nonetheless indispensable account for all of us, Indian and non-Indian alike, seeking to understand how we might tell a new story for the future


I have a hard time writing synopsis’s for non-fiction books, so I included the Goodreads description. Thomas King provides an account of colonialism in North America and how it has shaped contemporary relations between First Nations and Non Natives. King sets the record straight and explains many misconceptions about Natives. I thoroughly enjoyed his explanation between “Legal Indian” and a “Non-legal Indian.” There were many parts of the book that I highlighted and noted for future reference. I found the book utterly fascinating. I’ve done a lot of research on my history, and thought this book was one of the best I’ve read in a long time. King doesn’t provide a dissertation or footnotes; he conveys what’s on his mind. He’s truly a master storyteller.

King’s idea that Indians are “inconvenient” to governments, really struck a chord with me. I thought it was truthful and really pertinent to today, especially with recent protests and media coverage. I struggled with writing my review, because I wasn’t sure I could give this book justice.

As a Native American, I wholeheartedly encourage curious readers to read this book. Thomas King is readable, relatable and he doesn’t sugarcoat the issues. It’s hard to find good historical books that are readable, but Thomas King succeeds. He adds humor to engage the reader, and point out the obvious that is not always so obvious. I found myself laughing, and thinking “this is so true.” He lays it all out, and gives readers a lot of think about. I highly recommend this one.

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  1. For all my life I've been drawn to the history, spirituality, and overall culture of Native Americans ... I'm adding this to my "to buy" list right now!

    Thank you for highlighting this book on your blog, Jennifer!

  2. I have not heard of this one before, but your wonderful and extremely thoughtful review of it makes me think that I would do well to pick it up when I can. It sounds really amazing, and like something that would not only entertain me, but teach me as well. Great job today!

  3. This does sound fascinating! I like the fact that he doesn't sugarcoat things.

  4. This sounds really interesting and I am always drawn to history *history channel junkie* awesome review!

  5. Great review. Given everything that is going on right now I think this book is timely. I've added it to my TBR pile.