Custer's trials : a life on the frontier of a new America / T.J. Stiles.Material type: TextPublisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2015Copyright date: ©2015Edition: First edition.Description: xxi, 582 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9780307592644; 0307592642.Subject(s): Generals -- United States -- Biography | Indians of North America -- Wars -- Great Plains | Frontier and pioneer life -- Biography | Indians of North America -- Wars -- Great Plains | Generals -- United States -- BiographyDDC classification: 973.8/2092 | B
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Includes bibliographical references (pages 545-552) and index.
The Accused -- The Observer -- The Protégé -- The Prodigy -- The Women -- The General -- The Hero -- The Victor -- The Executioner -- The Politician -- The Fallen -- The Indian Killer -- The Financier -- The Writer -- The Enemy -- The Accuser -- Epilogue.
Historian T.J. Stiles paints a portrait of Custer both deeply personal and sweeping in scope, demonstrating how much of Custer's legacy has been ignored. He refutes Custer's historical caricature, revealing a volatile, contradictory, intense person -- capable yet insecure, intelligent yet bigoted, passionate yet self-destructive, a romantic individualist at odds with the institution of the military (he was court-martialed twice in six years). The key to understanding Custer, Stiles writes, is keeping in mind that he lived on a frontier in time. During Custer's lifetime, Americans saw their world remade. In the Civil War, the West, and many areas overlooked in previous biographies, Custer helped to create modern America, but he could never adapt to it. His admirers saw him as the embodiment of the nation's gallant youth, of all that they were losing; his detractors despised him for resisting a more complex and promising future. He freed countless slaves, yet rejected new civil rights laws. He proved his heroism, but missed the dark reality of war for so many others. Native Americans fascinated him, but he could not see them as fully human. Intimate, dramatic, and provocative, this biography captures the larger story of the changing nation in Custer's tumultuous marriage to his highly educated wife, Libbie; their complicated relationship with Eliza Brown, the forceful black woman who ran their household; as well as his battles and expeditions. It casts new light on a near-mythic American figure, a man both widely known and little understood.
Pulitzer Prize for History, 2016