For more than a century, Americans have been captivated by the legend of General George Armstrong Custer. But the various truths of Custer’s life and last stand prove elusive. Why are we so taken with the myth and the so-called mystery behind the man?
In a field teeming with highly partisan and wildly speculative treatments of Custer, Louise Barnett enters with a volume widely acclaimed by both military and cultural historians as the most balanced account of his life and legend. Custer's life spans two great eras of American history, and Barnett's commanding work pushes beyond the existing literature to a comprehensive view of this controversial figure.
Louise Barnett is a professor of English and American studies at Rutgers University and the author of a number of books, including The Ignoble Savage: American Literary Racism, 1790–1890, and Ungentlemanly Acts: The Army’s Notorious Incest Trial.
"Provocative, boldly theoretical, marked by often keen analysis, and beautifully written. . . . No one who writes on Custer in the future will be able to ignore [Barnett's] book."—Paul Andrew Hutton, Civil War Times
"There is much unusual and useful information about life on the plains, Indian warfare, the danger and fear of captivity by Indians, and especially, the relationship between Custer and his wife."—New York Times Book Review
"The fine account of his 'mythic afterlife' makes Ms. Barnett's book unique."—Byron Farwell, Washington Times
"A sharp, original, and engaging study of Custer's life and myth which . . . includes a first-rate account of the Little Bighorn."—Plain Dealer
“A sublime combination of scholarship and storytelling.”–Jim Larson, Billings Outpost
“Barnett has crafted a thoughtful and balanced study.” —Jonathan White, Ohioana Quarterly
“In its second edition. . . this biography of George Armstrong Custer is full of fascinating, detailed information and aims to provide a realistic view of Custer and his life while also taking a serious look at the myths which, along with the efforts of his widow, have kept him in the public’s eye. In addition to the account of Custer’s life, the book also presents valuable information regarding life on the American frontier.”—Utah Historical Quarterly
“In many ways, Professor Barnett’s book comes as a breath of fresh air to a subject so provocative and with solutions so apparently elusive. Perhaps better than any other, she examines what is presumably the most mysterious aspect of a story that seemingly has no end or satisfactory explanation—the perennial fascination of the mystic afterlife of George Armstrong Custer; a story that simply will not go away. . . . A fine book that closes some gaps without opening new controversies.”—Glenn M. Bussett, Manhattan (KS) Mercury