WINNER 2016 - Pulitzer Prize for History
FINALIST 2016 - National Book Critics Circle Awards
FINALIST 2016 - California Book Award
FINALIST 2016 - Mark Lynton History Prize
LONGLIST 2016 - Plutarch Award
WINNER 2016 - Western Writers of America Golden Spur Award
WINNER 2016 - William H. Seward Award for Excellence in Civil War Biography
FINALIST 2015 - Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History
Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for History
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 capable yet insecure man, intelligent yet bigoted, passionate yet self-destructive, a romantic individualist at odds with the institution of the military (court-martialed twice in six years) and the new corporate economy, a wartime emancipator who rejected racial equality. Stiles argues that, although Custer was justly noted for his exploits on the western frontier, he also played a central role as both a wide-ranging participant and polarizing public figure in his extraordinary, transformational time—a time of civil war, emancipation, brutality toward Native Americans, and, finally, the Industrial Revolution—even as he became one of its casualties. Intimate, dramatic, and provocative, this biography captures the larger story of the changing nation. It casts surprising new light on one of the best-known figures of American history, a subject of seemingly endless fascination.
“[This] sympathetic biography attempts to demythologize and reassess a complicated figure.... Stiles captures his subject with verve.” The New Yorker
“Epic, ambitious.... [Stiles] scrupulously avoids caricature.... Stiles’s accomplishment is to show that, within the context of Custer’s life, the Battle of Little Bighorn really was an epilogue.” The Wall Street Journal
“If anyone could make a reader forget Custer’s last stand, at least for a few hundred pages at a time, it would be T.J. Stiles.... Stiles is a serious and accomplished biographer, but he is more than that. He is a skilled writer, with the rare ability to take years of far-ranging research and boil it down until he has a story that is illuminating and, at its best, captivating.” The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
T. J. Stiles is the author of The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography and the National Book Award for Nonfiction, and Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, which received the Ambassador Book Award and the Peter Seaborg Award for Civil War Scholarship, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Custer’s Trials was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2016. An elected member of the Society of American Historians and a member of the board of the Authors Guild, he was a 2011 fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, a 2004 Gilder Lehrman Fellow in American History at the New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, and a member of the 2014 faculty of the World Economic Forum. He lives in San Francisco, California, with his wife and two children.