Custer and the Great Controversy
was the first book to focus on the origins of what has come to be called the Custer myth. The Battle of the Little Bighorn has always been wrapped in mystery and controversy because none of Custer’s men survived to tell what happened, because press accounts circulated much misinformation and editors politicized the event, because popular writers repeated the errors of journalists, because a court of inquiry issued in bitter debate, and because Indian testimony was hard to gauge. This book, originally published in 1962, helps the reader understand the sources of the confusion and controversy surrounding the Custer fight and the beginning of the legend.
Custer and the Great Controversy was Robert M. Utley’s debut, coming after six years of service as a ranger-historian at the Little Bighorn National Monument. His distinguished career as a historian has produced many books, including Frontiersmen in Blue: The United States Army and the Indian, 1848–1865 and Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian, 1866–1891, both available as Bison Books.