Sandoz Studies, Volume 2


Sandoz Studies, Volume 2

Sandoz and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

Edited by Renée M. Laegreid, Leisl Carr Childers, and Margaret Huettl
Foreword by John Wunder

Sandoz Studies Series

218 pages
26 photographs, 4 illustrations, index


November 2024


$30.00 Pre-order

About the Book

Mari Sandoz’s The Battle of the Little Bighorn encouraged a change in how Americans viewed this infamous fight. By the mid-twentieth century a towering Custer myth had come to dominate the national psyche as a tale that confirmed national exceptionalism and continental destiny. Sandoz set out to dismantle this myth in an intimate account of the battle told from multiple perspectives. Although the resulting book received mixed reviews at the time, it has emerged through the decades as a visionary reinterpretation of the battle and a literary masterpiece.

Decades in the making, The Battle of the Little Bighorn was the renowned western writer’s last book, published after her death in 1966. The scholarly essays in this collection contextualize Sandoz’s work in the moment of its writing, situating her treatment of the past within the pivotal moments of her present. The essays address her incorporation of contemporary issues such as the Vietnam War, sensory history, gender study, recentering the Native perspective, environmentalism, and Sandoz’s personal challenge to completing her last book. The innovative insights into Sandoz’s perspective of the Battle of the Little Bighorn bring the historical acts involved, and her treatment of the site in which they occurred, into the twenty-first century.

Author Bio

Renée M. Laegreid is Andrew Allen Excellence Fellow in Western History and a professor of history at the University of Wyoming. Leisl Carr Childers is an associate professor of history at Colorado State University. Margaret Huettl is the director of Indigenous studies and an assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh. John Wunder (1945–2023) was emeritus professor of history at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and former director of the Center for Great Plains Studies.


“In 1966 Mari Sandoz’s The Battle of the Little Bighorn changed the way America thought about “Custer’s Last Stand.” This book will change the way America thinks about Sandoz, one of the most under-appreciated authorities on the history of the American West.”—Shannon D. Smith, president of the Mari Sandoz Society and author of Give Me Eighty Men: Women and the Myth of the Fetterman Fight

“This volume provides several lively and significant perspectives on Mari Sandoz’s final book and, in the process, establishes a very cogent and largely well-balanced overview of her career and the literary and archival context in which it emerged. It ably locates her research in her own time and demonstrates the ways trends in literary criticism can be impacted by social and philosophical shifts in culture.”—Robert Root, author of Walking Home Ground: In the Footsteps of Muir, Leopold, and Derleth

“This splendid array of articles in this anthology on Mari Sandoz’s The Battle of the Little Bighorn provide a welcome addition to our understanding of the battle, the Great Plains, and of women’s writing of the West. Filled with well-written and innovative research on Sandoz and her work, the authors illuminate her distinctive writing and her advocacy for Native peoples. I’m excited to add it to my library.”—Kimberli A. Lee, author of “I Do Not Apologize for the Length of This Letter”: The Mari Sandoz Letters on Native American Rights, 1940–1965

“This critical volume sheds important light on Sandoz’s final book and reconnects it with ongoing cultural conversations regarding the Battle of Little Bighorn.”—O. Alan Weltzien, author of Savage West: The Life and Fiction of Thomas Savage

“This volume of essays constitutes a significant reimaging of the Battle of Little Bighorn and of Mari Sandoz’s work in the history of the American West. The contributors’ focus on Mari Sandoz’s meticulous research, talent for critiquing the founding myths of settler colonialism, inclusion of the voices of oppressed people of the Great Plains, and demand that the East encounter the West on its own terms made me fall in love with Mari Sandoz’s work all over again. This is a volume students and scholars of the American West, the Battle of Little Big Horn, and Mari Sandoz’s work won’t want to miss.”—Lisa Pollard, independent scholar

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword, by John Wunder
Paul Andrew Hutton
1. Draft by Draft: The Battle of Sandoz and Her Bighorn Manuscript
Elaine Marie Nelson
2. Mari Sandoz, Sensory Conjuror, and The Battle of the Little Bighorn
Cheryl A. Wells
3. “Such a Jolly Family”: Mari Sandoz Rewrites Elizabeth Bacon Custer
Cathryn Halverson
4. Recentering Custer: Mari Sandoz and the Battle of the Little Bighorn
Taylor G. Hensel
5. Writing against Empire: Mari Sandoz and the Fog of War
Kent Blansett
6. All That We Cannot See: The Little Bighorn Battlefield Then and Now
Leisl Carr Childers

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