The Eternal Custer

Inventing Custer

As a book reviewer and editor of Western Books for True West magazine, I am truly amazed the formidable fascination of publisher’s with the life of George Armstrong Custer. The flawed life of the Michigan Civil War cavalry general was the subject of a number of biographies in 2015 (including Knopf’s Custer’s Trials by T.J. Stiles) , but with the surge in Western film adaptations of historical figures such as the Hugh Glass story in The Revenant, I would be remiss not to recommend Inventing Custer: The Making of an American Legend by Edward Caudill & Paul Ashdown (Rowman & Littlefield, September2015). Superbly researched, Caudill and Ashdown’s conclusions on how the boy-general’s life and death—real and imagined—has remained relevant to the conscious of America since his death at Little Bighorn 140 years ago this June. And, just last week, I received two more Custer volumes well-worth adding to your Custer collection: McFarland’s Frederic C. Wagner III’s Participants in the Battle of Little Big Horn: A Biographical Dictionary of Sioux, Cheyenne and United States Personnel, Second Edition (published in December 2015), and University of Oklahoma Press’s Photographing Custer’s Battlefield: The Images of Kenneth F Roahen by Sandy Barnard, which will be published in March.

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