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The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

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George Guidall

12 Hours 12 Minutes

Penguin Audio

May 2010

Audio Book Summary

The bestselling author of Valiant Ambition and In the Hurricane's Eye sheds new light on one of the iconic stories of the American West

Little Bighorn and Custer are names synonymous in the American imagination with unmatched bravery and spectacular defeat. Mythologized as Custer's Last Stand, the June 1876 battle has been equated with other famous last stands, from the Spartans' defeat at Thermopylae to Davy Crockett at the Alamo.

In his tightly structured narrative, Nathaniel Philbrick brilliantly sketches the two larger-than-life antagonists: Sitting Bull, whose charisma and political savvy earned him the position of leader of the Plains Indians, and George Armstrong Custer, one of the Union's greatest cavalry officers and a man with a reputation for fearless and often reckless courage. Philbrick reminds readers that the Battle of the Little Bighorn was also, even in victory, the last stand for the Sioux and Cheyenne Indian nations. Increasingly outraged by the government's Indian policies, the Plains tribes allied themselves and held their ground in southern Montana. Within a few years of Little Bighorn, however, all the major tribal leaders would be confined to Indian reservations.

Throughout, Philbrick beautifully evokes the history and geography of the Great Plains with his characteristic grace and sense of drama. The Last Stand is a mesmerizing account of the archetypal story of the American West, one that continues to haunt our collective imagination.

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Reviews

  • Albert

    My interest is not scholarly, so I can't entirely vouch for the authenticity of this account. However, it seems like a pretty thorough job. I believe it. I liked the book and it was well-narrated. The author looks at the personalities involved in some depth. At the end, one feels he knows the individuals, much as he would after reading a good novel. Politically, I would say this is balanced in perspective. Much blame falls on the administration of President Grant. I accept that as true.

    Book Rating

  • DSrein

    This book is well written. The author did a great job of researching many sources. He quotes survivors of the battle from both sides. Not only does he shed light on conflicting stories from participants he provides easy to follow explanations. He also does a great job of getting you ‘inside’ the minds of significant players and lots of great background information. I highly recommend this book which has the best account of all the accounts I have read. David Srein

    Book Rating

  • Darren F.

    Though I have listened to many George Guidall narrating fictional books, this was my first experience of him narrating non-fiction which I thoroughly enjoyed. If you like historical fiction, this book makes a great primer for Dan Simmon's "Black Hills". Now on my 2nd listen of "Black Hills", I am picking up on many things that went over my head due to the historical elucidation from "The Last Stand".

    Book Rating

  • Gordon Moore

    Fantasic look at the thinking behind the Union generals, "saviors of the nation", and their legacy on ending slavery, but in irony, beginning the genocide of the native population. More than just a battle account, a list of crimes, too numerous to list, against the American Indian.

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