The Diaries of John Gregory Bourke, Volume 5 (Hardcover)

May 23, 1881-August 26, 1881

By Charles M. Robinson, III

University of North Texas Press, 9781574414684, 560pp.

Publication Date: October 10, 2013

List Price: 55.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


John Gregory Bourke kept a monumental set of diaries beginning as a young cavalry lieutenant in Arizona in 1872, and ending the evening before his death in 1896. As aide-de-camp to Brigadier General George Crook, he had an insider's view of the early Apache campaigns, the Great Sioux War, the Cheyenne Outbreak, and the Geronimo War. Bourke's writings reveal much about military life on the western frontier, but he also was a noted ethnologist, writing extensive descriptions of American Indian civilization and illustrating his diaries with sketches and photographs.
Previously, researchers could consult only a small part of Bourke’s diary material in various publications, or else take a research trip to the archive and microfilm housed at West Point. Now, for the first time, the 124 manuscript volumes of the Bourke diaries are being compiled, edited, and annotated by Charles M. Robinson III in an easily accessible form to the modern researcher.
This fifth volume opens at Fort Wingate as Bourke prepares to visit the Navajos. Next, at the Pine River Agency, he is witness to the Sun Dance, where despite his discomfort at what he saw, he noted that during the Sun Dance piles of food and clothing were contributed by the Indians themselves, to relieve the poor among their people. Bourke continued his travels among the Zunis, the Rio Grande pueblos, and finally, with the Hopis to attend the Hopi Snake dance. The volume concludes at Fort Apache, Arizona, which is stirring with excitement over the activities of the Apache medicine man, Nakai’-dokli’ni, which Bourke spelled Na Kay do Klinni. This would erupt into bloodshed less than a week later.
Volume Five is especially important because it is the first in this series to deal almost exclusively with Bourke’s ethnological research. Aside from a brief trip to the East Coast, most of the text involves his observations either during the Great Oglala Sun Dance of 1881, or among the pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona. Bourke’s account of the Sun Dance is particularly significant because it was the last one held by the Oglalas. The Hopi material in this volume served as the basis of The Snake Dance of the Moquis of Arizona, published three years later in 1884, and perhaps his best-known work after On the Border with Crook.
Extensively annotated and with a biographical appendix on Indians, civilians, and military personnel named in the diaries, this book will appeal to western and military historians, students of American Indian life and culture, and to anyone interested in the development of the American West.

About the Author

CHARLES M. ROBINSON III received his bachelor's degree from St. Edward's University and master's from the University of Texas-Pan American, and was a history instructor at South Texas Community College. He wrote more than twelve books, including Bad Hand: A Biography of General Ranald S. Mackenzie (T.R. Fehrenbach Award) and The Court Martial of Lieutenant Henry Flipper (Spur Award finalist). Robinson appeared on television documentaries for the Public Broadcasting System and the History Channel.

Praise For The Diaries of John Gregory Bourke, Volume 5: May 23, 1881-August 26, 1881

“The Bourke diaries are of great significance to the fields of Western American history and of Native American Studies. They are an unparalleled source on the internal operations of the Indian-fighting army and on ethnohistorical information on the tribes that Bourke came to know.”—Joseph Porter, author of Paper Medicine Man

“Robinson merits high praise for the herculean task of transcribing the entire diaries and remaining as faithful to the original text as possible. Publication of the series will be extremely useful for scholars of western America.”—Robert Wooster, author of The Military and United States Indian Policy 1865-1903

“The availability of the complete Bourke diaries, effectively presented and enhanced by Robinson’s introductory remarks, footnotes, and appended materials, is a milestone contribution to the field of western history and Indian wars research.”—Jerome A. Greene, author of Battles and Skirmishes of the Great Sioux War

“This is a must for the library of everyone interested in the Indians and the military frontier.”—Paul A. Hutton, author of Phil Sheridan and His Army

“Robinson’s Bourke volumes are definitive and the worth of the effort and material ranks at the highest of achievements. Bourke’s writings are keenly insightful, filled with color, and replete with a Who’s Who of the American West and Old Army.”—Paul L. Hedren, author of Fort Laramie and the Great Sioux War

“The University of North Texas Press deserves the thanks of all those interested in the North American Indian wars for undertaking the publication of this invaluable primary source.”—Journal of Military History

"Historians are familiar with the high quality of the initial four volumes in this series, and they will be happy to see that the editor has maintained the same impeccable research standards and useful formatting for this fifth volume. . . . Bourke's publications remain crucial to scholarly research efforts even today."--Michael L. Tate, Choice

"Bourke was a meticulous observer as well as a superb and engrossingly interesting writer. He would also colour his material with lyrical and poetical observations upon the natural world, including the landscape and the weather, and also with copies of such official correspondence he deemed important such as orders, rosters, newspaper clippings and his own drawings to accompany his texts. Furthermore it would all be laced with his descriptions--sometimes with humour--of characters, military, civilian and Indians met along the way."--English Westerners' Society Tally Sheet

"Volume five is important because it is the first to deal exclusively with Bourke's ethnological work. . . . As with the Sun Dance, his record of the Snake Dance is full of detail and drama. . . . This book, like the others in the series previously edited by Robinson, will make a much welcomed addition to any library of northern Plains or Southwestern history."--Nebraska History

"Bourke was not a trained ethnologist, but possessed a keen eye and the discipline resulting from a Jesuit education to perform such tasks. . . . Readers who have examined the original diaries, which are housed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, will welcome the easy accessibility now afforded by Charles Robinson's work."--New Mexico Historical Review

"Bourke was one of the most important ethnologists of his time. . . . Robinson's perseverance, accompanied by an uncommon gift for providing background and annotation, along with transcribing and editing, not only for clarity but to retain the distinct persona and intentions of Bourke's pen, will not be an easy act to follow."--Journal of Arizona History

"[Robinson's] dedication to the project is revealed through his thoughtful annotations and fidelity to Bourke’s original text. Robinson remained as true to Bourke’s diary entries as possible; the rare editorial interventions are
limited to those instances when readability would be affected or clarification was necessary."--Journal of American History