In this thrilling narrative history of George Armstrong Custer's death at the Little Bighorn, award-winning historian Thom Hatch puts to rest the questions and conspiracies that have made Custer's last stand one of the most misunderstood events in American history.Read more...
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In this thrilling narrative history of George Armstrong Custer's death at the Little Bighorn, award-winning historian Thom Hatch puts to rest the questions and conspiracies that have made Custer's last stand one of the most misunderstood events in American history. While numerous historians have investigated the battle, what happened on those plains hundreds of miles from even a whisper of civilization has been obscured by intrigue and deception starting with the very first shots fired.
Custer's death and the defeat of the 7th Calvary by the Sioux was a shock to a nation that had come to believe that its westward expansion was a matter of destiny. While the first reports defended Custer, many have come to judge him by this single event, leveling claims of racism, disobedience, and incompetence. These false claims unjustly color Custer's otherwise extraordinarily life and fall far short of encompassing his service to his country.
By reexamining the facts and putting Custer within the context of his time and his career as a soldier, Hatch's "The Last Days of George Armstrong Custer "reveals the untold and controversial truth of what really happened in the valley of the Little Bighorn, making it the definitive history of Custer's last stand. This history of charging cavalry, desperate defenses, and malicious intrigue finally sets the record straight for one of history's most dynamic and misunderstood figures.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-12-15
- Reviewer: Staff
Most historians blame Custer for the 1876 massacre, but this energetic, intensely researched, and eccentric account from Hatch (The Last Outlaws) concludes that he was blameless. The author focuses on the years following 1874, when the Lakota Sioux refused to leave their Black Hills reservation after gold was discovered. Determined to eject them, several army units converged on what turned out to be a huge Sioux encampment. Arriving first, Custer split his regiment into three columns, a sensible tactic according to Hatch, to prevent their escape (as Custer was ordered). The first unit disobeyed his order to charge; the others disobeyed orders to join their commander after he was attacked. With Custer dead, the surviving commanders and superior officers hastened to blame him, and historians agree that the official inquiry was a cover-up. Hatch takes the bizarre position that the U.S. “had every right to expand its boundaries to include the Great Plains West” and disapproves of the Sioux’s violence in defending their land—which, he maintains, warranted military intervention to “restore peace.” Readers may find this unsettling (and arguably racist), but they will agree that he makes a reasonable case for Custer’s competence. (Feb.)