This is one of those times where I watched the movie before reading the book. I absolutely loved the Dances with Wolves movie. I never actually knew it was based on a book until a few weeks ago. when I found that out I ordered it and started to read it the day after it came (I didn’t have time in the actual day it came to start LOL). I was not disappointed by the book at all. I actually have to remark that I was impressed with how well the movie followed the book. There was very little left out and the few things they added in the movie helped to add to the story rather than distance itself from the book.
The story follows Lieutenant John Dunbar as he is assigned to a fort in the middle of the Indian frontier. seven he arrives, the fort is abandoned and he is the only soldier. He begins to complete tasks and waits for more soldiers to arrive, all while finding a peace living alone in the frontier and making friends with the animals he shares space with. You learn about his past in the civil war and his attitude toward the world and its inhabitants. He inevitably encounters Indians, Comanche, and talked the first steps in learning their culture. Little by little he is drawn deeper and deeper into their culture, particularly with the help of a white woman who was adopted by the tribe as a child. You learn her story as well over time. The story comes to climactic ending after the arrival of new soldier at the fort.
I was greatly impressed with the depth of the main character. You get pieces of thoughts from other characters scattered throughout but you primarily focus on the thoughts and actions of the lieutenant. Through his eyes your learn of a new culture and way of living. You learn about personal peace and evaluate how you see the world. You gain a respect for living of the land and see beauty in nature. But must of all it opens your eyes to the destruction one race can have on the world, how one person can set of a chair reaction of catastrophic or wonderful events and how each individual action crates ripples that shape our lives. The story isn’t action packed, but it moves steadily on with new ideas and events and revelations within the characters that keep you engrossed in the story and lets you continue to think about the story after you’ve put it down for the night or when you had to go to work. If I could have I would have read the book in one sitting. However, I was not able to but am thankful I had the in-between time to think about what I read and how I can relate to it or what it means to the world.
I’m surprised this book is not recommended reading in high school or college. It paints a beautiful picture of Comanche life and the impact white civilization had early on in their movement west. It also gives insights into sitting others, self evaluation, and how to view the world. I recommend this book to everyone. I’m very interested in reading the sequel to this book as well, The Holy Road.