CUSTER: THE CONTROVERSIAL LIFE OF GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER
by Jeffry D. Wert (Simon & Schuster, 480 pages, $27.50). In this full-scale analysis of the life of George Armstrong Custer (1839-76), Wert surveys the career of one of America’s enigmatic military figures, best known for his “last stand” against Sioux and Cheyenne warriors at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, in Montana, on June 25, 1876. That engagement cost Custer and more than 250 men of the Seventh U.S. Cavalry their lives. The author makes use of new and previously overlooked documents–including letters exchanged by Custer and his wife “Libbie”–and a recently discovered unpublished manuscript written by a trooper of the Seventh Cavalry who rode with Custer to the Little Big Horn, which provide insight into the complex nature of the man who in 1863 became the youngest general in the Union Army, but whose subsequent career in the West was marked by notoriety and controversy.