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 editionDescription: xxi, 582 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cmContent type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9780307592644; 0307592642Subject(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 LOC classification: E467.1.C99 | S76 2015
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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
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal ReviewPulitzer Prize-winning author Stiles (The First Tycoon) doesn't disappoint with this powerful, provocative biography of George Armstrong Custer (1839-76). Determined to explore why Custer became a national celebrity, Stiles covers the entire life of "The Boy General," emphasizing the dynamism of Custer's life and times, rather than portraying him as on a slow march toward defeat and death at the Battle of the Little Bighorn (Custer's Last Stand), where Lakota and Northern Cheyenne warriors proved victorious in June 1876. Custer was an outstanding cavalry officer in Civil War battles, and his ascent to power is chronicled in the first half of the book while the latter narrative portrays its subject as a romantic war hero addressing the realities of a brutal westward Indian campaign. The historical context of 19th-century America becomes as much a part of the story as is Custer, his wife, Libbie, and Eliza Brown, a young escaped slave who became their household manager. VERDICT A highly recommended modern biography that successfully illuminates the lives of Custer and his family as part of the changing patterns of American society. [See Prepub Alert, 4/20/15.]-Nathan Bender, Albany Cty. P.L., Laramie, WY © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
CHOICE ReviewStiles, winner of a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize, focuses his attention on the life of George Armstrong Custer. One can hope that his insightful, well-written biography will limit the need for others to write more about his subject. The author's narrative gives a detailed, readable, and even-handed account of Custer's life based on a wide variety of existing historical literature and personal papers. It examines his marriage, family, and financial affairs as well as his military career. Although a skilled cavalry officer, Custer disregarded army regulations and could not manage a peacetime command effectively. Personally insecure and from a poor family, he sought patrons within the army and among wealthy civilians. After the Civil War, he spent almost as much time in New York City on personal business as he did serving with his regiment in the West. The account shows Custer as looking back to mid-19th-century individualism rather than to the newly emerging urban, industrial society that followed the Civil War. This is a good story, fairly told. Summing Up: Recommended. Most collections. --Roger L. Nichols, University of Arizona
Author notes provided by SyndeticsT. J. Stiles received a B. A. in history from Carleton College and a M. A. and M.Phil. in European history from Columbia University. He is the author of Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, which won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2010, and Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America, which won Pulitzer Prize for history in 2016.
(Bowker Author Biography)