Synopses & Reviews
In this lavishly illustrated volume, Larry McMurtry, the greatest chronicler of the American West, tackles for the first time one of the paramount figures of Western and American history.
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.
Pulitzer Prize winner Larry McMurtry has long been fascinated by the “Boy General” and his rightful place in history. In Custer, he delivers an expansive, agile, and clear-eyed reassessment of the iconic generals 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. We see Custer in all his contradictions and complexity as the perpetually restless man with a difficult marriage, a hunger for glory, and an unwavering confidence in his abilities.
McMurtry explores how the numerous controversies that grew out of the Little Bighorn combined with a perfect storm of technological developments — the railroad, the camera, and the telegraph — to fan the flames of his legend. He shows how Custer's wife, Libbie, worked for decades after his death to portray Major Marcus Reno as the cause of the disaster of the Little Bighorn, and how Buffalo Bill Cody, who ended his Wild West Show with a valiant reenactment of Custer's Last Stand, played a pivotal role in spreading Custer's notoriety.
While Custer is first and foremost an enthralling story filled with larger-than-life characters — Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, William J. Fetterman, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Red Cloud — McMurtry also argues that Little Bighorn should be seen as a monumental event in our nations history. Like all great battles, its true meaning can be found in its impact on our politics and policy, and the epic defeat clearly signaled the end of the Indian Wars — and brought to a close the great narrative of western expansion. In Custer, Larry McMurtry delivers 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.
"A master." The Boston Globe
"One of America’s great storytellers." Wall Street Journal
"Larry McMurtry has the power to clutch the heart and also to exhilarate." The New Yorker
"Few authors match McMurtry’s voice of unsentimental authority." Chicago Tribune
"McMurtry has reminded us that, in the hands of a maser, entertaining, old-fashioned storytelling rooted firmly in uniquely American experiences and landscape is pretty darn hard to beat." The Washington Post
"The celebrated novelist offers...fresh insights on the Custer story....The distilled perceptions of a lifetime of study, beautifully illustrated." Kirkus Reviews
"Pulitzer Prize-winner McMurtry continues to be an outstanding chronicler of Western legend and lore." Booklist
In this lavishly illustrated volume, Pulitzer Prize winner Larry McMurtry, the American West’s greatest chronicler, delivers a defining portrait of the life and legacy of the West’s most legendary figure, George Armstrong Custer.
On June 25, 1876, 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 also his life — and the lives of all his men. It was the U.S. Army’s worst defeat in the long and bloody Plains Indian War. Yet with no survivors and only unreliable Indian accounts, “Custer’s Last Stand” reached mythic proportions and achieved Custer’s name immortality.
Larry McMurtry has long been fascinated by Custer and his rightful place in history, and in Custer, he examines how the “Boy General,” who graduated last in his class at West Point, went on to earn distinction in the Civil War and rose through the ranks. In McMurtry’s hands, Custer is brought to life in all his complexity — as the perpetually restless man whose complicated marriage, hunger for glory, and unwavering confidence in his abilities led him to ignore the warnings of scouts and comrades at Little Big Horn. In this engaging, handsomely illustrated volume, McMurtry not only delivers an honest assessment of Custer’s legacy, demonstrating how through his power of personality, and as a product of his times, he achieved eternal fame, but also redefines our understanding of the American West.
About the Author
Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays. He lives in Archer City, Texas.