Colorful, charismatic, and controversial, George Armstrong Custer became a national hero at the age of twenty-three when he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general—barely two years after graduating at the bottom of his class from West Point. He was idolized both by his men and by the American public, though he endured two courts-martial and temporary dismissal from the Army.
Custer pushed himself harder and longer than most, owing to an intense ambition to succeed and a hunger for glory and fame. He was contemptuous of danger, taking chances that no one else would take, which earned him the reputation among some observers of being reckless. Redeeming himself through his actions at the front, he resurrected his former glory with a stunning victory over the Cheyenne Indians using tactics he had perfected during the Civil War. General Custer was one of those larger-than-life figures whose flamboyant personality, daring, and seeming invincibility became legendary. Here, author Duane Schultz shows why he remains one of the most fascinating figures in American military history.
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Custer was a Paris Hilton of his day, a pawn (rook?). To understand this era read Grant, Sherman, Hornaday, and Fremont, primary texts in public domain. Their prose is as good or better than paraphrasing of historians. Plus they were there. You can read Custer in his own words as well. His death brought sad consequences for Native Americans (and bison, by association) in vengeance sought by Euroamericans, but while alive Custer's influence on his times was minimal.