Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for History From the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and a National Book Award, a brilliant biography of Gen. George Armstrong Custer that radically changes our view of the man and his turbulent times. In this magisterial biography, T. J. Stiles paints a portrait of Custer both deeply personal and sweeping in scope, proving how much of Custer’s legacy has been ignored. He demolishes Custer’s historical caricature, revealing a volatile, contradictory, intense person—capable yet insecure, intelligent yet bigoted, passionate yet self-destructive, a romantic individualist at odds with the institution of the military (he was court-martialed twice in six years). The key to understanding Custer, Stiles writes, is keeping in mind that he lived on a frontier in time. In the Civil War, the West, and many areas overlooked in previous biographies, Custer helped to create modern America, but he could never adapt to it. He freed countless slaves yet rejected new civil rights laws. He proved his heroism but missed the dark reality of war for so many others. A talented combat leader, he struggled as a manager in the West. He tried to make a fortune on Wall Street yet never connected with the new corporate economy. Native Americans fascinated him, but he could not see them as fully human. A popular writer, he remained apart from Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, and other rising intellectuals. During Custer’s lifetime, Americans saw their world remade. His admirers saw him as the embodiment of the nation’s gallant youth, of all that they were losing; his detractors despised him for resisting a more complex and promising future. Intimate, dramatic, and provocative, this biography captures the larger story of the changing nation in Custer’s tumultuous marriage to his highly educated wife, Libbie; their complicated relationship with Eliza Brown, the forceful black woman who ran their household; as well as his battles and expeditions. It casts surprising new light on a near-mythic American figure, a man both widely known and little understood.
George Armstrong Custer's Life of Service and Lust for Fame
Author: James E. Mueller
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Category: Biography & Autobiography
George Armstrong Custer, one of the most familiar figures of nineteenth-century American history, is known almost exclusively as a soldier, his brilliant military career culminating in catastrophe at Little Bighorn. But Custer, author James E. Mueller suggests, had the soul of an artist, not of a soldier. Ambitious Honor elaborates this radically new perspective, arguing that an artistic passion for creativity and recognition drove Custer to success—and, ultimately, to the failure that has overshadowed his notable achievements. Custer's ambition is well known and played itself out on the battlefield and in his persistent quest for recognition. What Ambitious Honor provides is the context for understanding how Custer's theatrical personality took shape and thrived, beginning with his training at a teaching college before he entered West Point. Teaching, Mueller notes, requires creativity and performance, both of which fascinated and served Custer throughout his life—in his military leadership, his politics, and even his attention-getting, self-designed uniforms. But Custer's artistic personality emerges most clearly in his writing career, where he displayed a talent for what we now call literary journalism. Ambitious Honor offers a close look at Custer's work as a best-selling author right up to the time of his death, when he was writing another book and planning a speaking tour after the 1876 campaign against the Sioux and Cheyenne. Custer's fate at Little Bighorn was so dramatic that it sealed his place in the national story—and obscured, Mueller contends, the more interesting facets of his true nature. Ambitious Honor shows us Custer anew, as an artist thrust into the military because of the times in which he lived. This nuanced portrait, for the first time delineating his sense of image, whether as creator or consumer, forever alters Custer's own image in our view.
With photographs and stunning illustrations from acclaimed author-artist S.D. Nelson, this thrilling double biography juxtaposes the lives of two enemies whose conflict changed American history: Crazy Horse and George Custer In 1876, Lakota chief Crazy Horse helped lead his people’s resistance against the white man’s invasion of the northern Great Plains. One of the leaders of the US military forces was Army Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer. The men had long been enemies. At the height of the war, when tribalism had reached its peak, they crossed paths for the last time. In this action-packed double biography, S. D. Nelson draws fascinating parallels between Crazy Horse and Custer, whose lives were intertwined. These warriors were alike in many ways, yet they often collided in deadly rivalry. Witness reports and reflections by their peers and enemies accompany side-by-side storytelling that offers very different perspectives on the same historical events. The two men’s opposing destinies culminated in the infamous Battle of the Greasy Grass, as the Lakota called it, or the Battle of the Little Bighorn, as it was called by the Euro-Americans. In Crazy Horse and Custer, Nelson’s gripping narrative and signature illustration style based on Plains Indians ledger art, along with a mix of period photographs and paintings, shines light on two men whose conflict forever changed Lakota and US history. The book includes an author’s note, timeline, endnotes, and bibliography.
Two Authors Wrangle over the Truth about the Mythic Old West
Author: Bill Markley
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Drawing on fact and folklore, dueling authors Bill Markley and Kellen Cutsforth present opposing viewpoints pertaining to controversies surrounding some of the most well-known characters and events in the history of the Old West. In an entertaining and conversational style, Markley and Cutsforth take conflicting sides to debunk and in some cases, proliferate the myths, legends, and realities of some of the West’s most famous figures, including: - Billy the Kid -Jesse James -Buffalo Bill Cody -Calamity Jane -the Earp brothers - and many more The real lives of the historic figures in Old West Showdown are shrouded in controversy and myth. Was Jesse James a Southern Son fighting for the cause of the fallen Confederacy, or a blood-thirsty cutthroat justly pursued by the authorities? Was Billy the Kid a misunderstood youth or a cold-blooded killer? Did Buffalo Bill Cody truly ride for the Pony Express as a young man? Or, was he just a blowhard who trumped up his own past in an attempt to seem more heroic in the eyes of audiences attending his Wild West shows? These questions and many more will be explored in this exciting book.
Nothing can change the terrible facts of the Sand Creek Massacre. The human toll of this horrific event and the ensuing loss of a way of life have never been fully recounted until now. In Sand Creek and the Tragic End of a Lifeway, Louis Kraft tells this story, drawing on the words and actions of those who participated in the events at this critical time. The history that culminated in the end of a lifeway begins with the arrival of Algonquin-speaking peoples in North America, proceeds through the emergence of the Cheyennes and Arapahos on the Central Plains, and ends with the incursion of white people seeking land and gold. Beginning in the earliest days of the Southern Cheyennes, Kraft brings the voices of the past to bear on the events leading to the brutal murder of people and its disastrous aftermath. Through their testimony and their deeds as reported by contemporaries, major and supporting players give us a broad and nuanced view of the discovery of gold on Cheyenne and Arapaho land in the 1850s, followed by the land theft condoned by the U.S. government. The peace treaties and perfidy, the unfolding massacre and the investigations that followed, the devastating end of the Indians’ already-circumscribed freedom—all are revealed through the eyes of government officials, newspapers, and the military; Cheyennes and Arapahos who sought peace with or who fought Anglo-Americans; whites and Indians who intermarried and their offspring; and whites who dared to question what they considered heinous actions. As instructive as it is harrowing, the history recounted here lives on in the telling, along with a way of life destroyed in all but cultural memory. To that memory this book gives eloquent, resonating voice.
The first comprehensive history of the Lakota Indians and their profound role in shaping America’s history This first complete account of the Lakota Indians traces their rich and often surprising history from the early sixteenth to the early twenty†‘first century. Pekka Hämäläinen explores the Lakotas’ roots as marginal hunter†‘gatherers and reveals how they reinvented themselves twice: first as a river people who dominated the Missouri Valley, America’s great commercial artery, and then—in what was America’s first sweeping westward expansion—as a horse people who ruled supreme on the vast high plains. The Lakotas are imprinted in American historical memory. Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull are iconic figures in the American imagination, but in this groundbreaking book they emerge as something different: the architects of Lakota America, an expansive and enduring Indigenous regime that commanded human fates in the North American interior for generations. Hämäläinen’s deeply researched and engagingly written history places the Lakotas at the center of American history, and the results are revelatory.
In the spirit of Guns, Germs, and Steel, author and cultural historian Larry Len Peterson details the collision of European and Native American civilizations and the bloody aftermath that doomed a once-thriving people. Wide-ranging and brimming with fresh insights, American Trinity focuses on how the West was shaped by three implacable forces: Christian imperialism, Thomas Jefferson's Doctrine of Discovery, and George Armstrong Custer's hubris. As Peterson says, "History is important. When there is no knowledge of the past, there cannot be a vision of the future." Includes chapter endnotes, bibliography, and index.
A Passion for Hounds, from the Civil War to Little Bighorn
Author: Brian Patrick Duggan
General George Armstrong Custer and his wife, Libbie Custer, were wholehearted dog lovers. At the time of his death at Little Bighorn, they owned a rollicking pack of 40 hunting dogs, including Scottish Deerhounds, Russian Wolfhounds, Greyhounds and Foxhounds. Told from a dog owner’s perspective, this biography covers their first dogs during the Civil War and in Texas; hunting on the Kansas and Dakota frontiers; entertaining tourist buffalo hunters, including a Russian Archduke, English aristocrats and P. T. Barnum (all of whom presented the general with hounds); Custer’s attack on the Washita village (when he was accused of strangling his own dogs); and the 7th Cavalry’s march to Little Bighorn with an analysis of rumors about a Last Stand dog. The Custers’ pack was re-homed after his death in the first national dog rescue effort. Well illustrated, the book includes an appendix giving depictions of the Custers’ dogs in art, literature and film.
Historical Dictionary of the United States contains a chronology, an introduction, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has more than 400 cross-referenced entries on important personalities as well as aspects of the country's politics, economy, foreign relations, religion, and culture.
The Battle of the Rosebud may well be the largest Indian battle ever fought in the American West. The monumental clash on June 17, 1876, along Rosebud Creek in southeastern Montana pitted George Crook and his Shoshone and Crow allies against Sioux and Northern Cheyennes under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. It set the stage for the battle that occurred eight days later when, just twenty-five miles away, George Armstrong Custer blundered into the very same village that had outmatched Crook. Historian Paul L. Hedren presents the definitive account of this critical battle, from its antecedents in the Sioux campaign to its historic consequences. Rosebud, June 17, 1876 explores in unprecedented detail the events of the spring and early summer of 1876. Drawing on an extensive array of sources, including government reports, diaries, reminiscences, and a previously untapped trove of newspaper stories, the book traces the movements of both Indian forces and U.S. troops and their Indian allies as Brigadier General Crook commenced his second great campaign against the northern Indians for the year. Both Indian and army paths led to Rosebud Creek, where warriors surprised Crook and then parried with his soldiers for the better part of a day on an enormous field. Describing the battle from multiple viewpoints, Hedren narrates the action moment by moment, capturing the ebb and flow of the fighting. Throughout he weighs the decisions and events that contributed to Crook’s tactical victory, and to his fateful decision thereafter not to pursue his adversary. The result is a uniquely comprehensive view of an engagement that made history and then changed its course. Rosebud was at once a battle won and a battle lost. With informed attention to the subtleties and significance of both outcomes, as well as to the fears and motivations on all sides, Hedren has given new meaning to this consequential fight, and new insight into its place in the larger story of the Great Sioux War.