Rough Drafts 10/13

Almost all of True West’s readers polled say they are fanatics of historical Western nonfiction and Investigating History, and that they keep reading us every month because of our coverage of Western icons such as Wyatt Earp.

Who’s the hot icon this month in Western investigative nonfiction? None other than Gen. George Armstrong Custer, who is featured in three new books:

In Shooting Arrows & Slinging Mud: Custer, the Press, and the Little Bighorn (University of Oklahoma Press), James E. Mueller argues that the journalists who reported on Custer’s whereabouts were not entirely anti-Indian or completely responsible for his deification. You judge, but I think Mueller is spot on.

Reading The Fights on the Little Horn: 50 Years of Research into Custer’s Last Stand (Casemate) is like walking side by side across the battlefield with the late Gordon Harper. It’s real history you can taste from the ground up.

Fans of historian M. John Lubetkin’s Jay Cooke’s Gamble: The Northern Pacific Railroad, the Sioux, and the Panic of 1873 will love his brilliantly edited Custer and the 1873 Yellowstone Survey: A Documentary History (Arthur H. Clark Company). Filled with well-annotated primary sources about a major precursor to Custer’s infamous fate at Little Big Horn, this volume offers Custer aficionados a worthy addition to their collections.

—Stuart Rosebrook

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