The ultimate mythic story of the American West- the story of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull's victory and General Custer's famous last stand - featuring remarkable new archival discoveries
Nathaniel Philbrick is an historian and broadcaster whose books include In the Heart of the Sea and "Mayflower". He is the founding director of the Egan Institute of Maritime Studies on Nantucket Island, and a research fellow at the Nantucket Historical Association.
Philbrick here takes on an oft-told tale, replete with its dashing, flawed main character, its historically doomed, noble Native chief, and a battlefield strewn with American corpses. While off his usual stride with a surfeit of unnecessary detail, bestselling author and National Book Award-winner Philbrick (In the Heart of the Sea; The Mayflower) writes a lively narrative that brushes away the cobwebs of mythology to reveal the context and realities of Custer's unexpected 1876 defeat at the hands of his Indian enemies under Sitting Bull, and the character of each leader. Judicious in his assessments of events and intentions, Philbrick offers a rounded history of one of the worst defeats in American military history, a story enhanced by his minute examination of the battle's terrain and interviews with descendants in both camps. Distinctively, too, he takes no sides. In his compelling history, Philbrick underscores the pyrrhic nature of Sitting Bull's victory-it was followed by federal action to move his tribe to a reservation. 32 pages of b&w photos, 18 pages of color photos, 18 maps. (May 4) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
After 2006's eye-opening account of the fanatical Pilgrims in Mayflower, Philbrick tackles another American legend. Neither the golden-haired general nor the Indian chief here is the bloodthirsty warmonger often portrayed in other accounts. Both are top soldiers and natural leaders zealously looking out for their respective peoples' interests. There have been so many contrasting accounts from both sides over the years that's it's difficult to get a truthful picture of what transpired on June 25, 1876, along the banks of the Little Bighorn River. There was also such infighting and backstabbing among Custer's senior officers that even their accounts are highly suspect. Philbrick therefore incorporates multiple perspectives for a very round portrait of events. Custer's fatal errors were in divvying up his already meager lot of mostly inexperienced troops into smaller units for a multiangled attack and launching an assault without first appraising the behemoth enemy force. Verdict More than a detailed chronology of events-at which it excels-this book is an in-depth portrait of the two combatants-it's Sitting Bull's story as much as Custer's. Both shared tragic and triumphant lives indelibly woven into the fabric of American lore. Philbrick humanizes history, not only putting a recognizable face on the players in one of our nation's most notorious events but also providing insight into their hearts and minds. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/10.]-Mike Rogers, Library Journal Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
A mesmerising portrait of two extraordinary individuals and
a thrilling blow-by-blow account of a landmark battle, it is
a terrific achievement -- Dominic Sandbrook * The Sunday
Philbrick recounts this story with the clarity, colour and pace of a first-rate movie, and Jeffrey Ward's superb maps make the twists and turns easy to follow. Custer's Last Stand was America's Isandhlwana, where the shock of defeat was redeemed by the thrill of the tale -- Raymond Seitz * Literary Review *
Fine new history...Philbrick has made excellent use of archival resources... and the resulting narrative is unlikely to be bettered. There is much more to savour... it is as brilliant an example of combat reconstruction as one is likely to find in any history of this scope and ambition -- Trevor Royle * Sunday Herald *
An absorbing retelling of the greatest Western of all. Philbrick is a stunningly evocative historian. It is a captivating story * The Times *
Philbrick writes a lively narrative that brushes away the cobwebs of mythology to reveal the context and realities of Custer's unexpected 1876 defeat at the hands of his Indian enemies under Sitting Bull... compelling * Publishers' Weekly *