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Custer

Custer

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ON JUNE 25, 1876, General George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry attacked a large Lakota Cheyenne village on the Little Bighorn River in Montana Territory. He lost not only the battle but his life—and the lives of his entire cavalry. “Custer’s Last Stand” was a spectacular defeat that shocked the country and grew quickly into a legend that has reverberated in our national consciousness to this day.

In this lavishly illustrated volume, Larry McMurtry, the greatest chronicler of the American West, tackles for the first time the “Boy General” and his rightful place in history. Custer is an expansive, agile, and clear-eyed reassessment of the iconic general’s life and legacy—how the legend was born, the ways in which it evolved, what it has meant—told against the broad sweep of the American narrative. It is a magisterial portrait of a complicated, misunderstood man that not only irrevocably changes our long-standing conversation about Custer, but once again redefines our understanding of the American West.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 192 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451626216 | 
  • October 2013
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AT ONE TIME A PICTURE called Custer’s Last Stand hung in virtually every saloon in the land, and quite a few barbershops too. I first saw it in our small barbershop, in Archer City, Texas. A painting by Cassilly Adams, lithographed by Otto Becker, was given away by the thousands by Anheuser-Busch, the great brewing enterprise of St. Louis: General George Armstrong Custer, long locks flying, was fighting on staunchly against terrible—in fact impossible—odds. And when he fell, along with some 250 of his men, the world was no longer the same.

Buffalo Bill Cody often used a skit called “Custer’s Last... see more
BY 1876, THE YEAR THE Battle of the Little Bighorn was fought, the United States had become a nation of some forty million people, the vast majority of whom had never seen a fighting Indian—not, that is, unless they happened to glimpse one or another of the powerful Indian leaders whom the government periodically paraded through Washington or New York, usually Red Cloud, the powerful Sioux diplomat, who made a long-winded speech at Cooper Union in 1870. Or, it might be Spotted Tail, of the Brulé Sioux; or American Horse, or even, if they were lucky, Sitting Bull, who hated whites, the main exceptions being Annie Oakley, his “Little Sure... see more
TO SAY THAT THE LITERATURE on Custer—Custerology, Michael Elliott calls it, in a fine book of that name—is large would be to understate by a considerable measure. As a rare book dealer I once owned a collection of Custerology numbering more than one thousand items: scrapbooks, diaries, trial transcripts, regimental histories, publications of learned societies, reprints of reprints, and so on. And this collection was compiled long before the cyber-experts weighed in. It could easily be three times as large today, and the same could be said for the bibliography of Billy the Kid, which is now up there with Napoleon and Jesus when it comes to... see more

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