The Last Stand

The Last Stand

Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

Book - 2010
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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.
Publisher: New York : Viking, c2010
ISBN: 9780670021727
Characteristics: xxii, 466 p., [40] p. of plates : ill., maps, plans ; 24 cm


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Jan 20, 2021

This is a very comprehensive analysis of the personalities, perspective of the participants (7th Calvary, Lakota nation, Grant’s government), battlefield topography and an accounting of the course of events leading to the Little Big Horn Battle. After reading this book, I felt I better understand both men, Sitting Bull and Custer, without the influence of legend, and how Custer’s Last Stand resulted in the unfortunate end of the Plains Indians’ way of life.

Jun 26, 2020

This book is my gateway into reading more about Native American history and culture. Very well written but difficult to follow at times.

Aug 26, 2019

I really enjoyed Philbrick's previous book 'In the Heart of the Sea' a while back, so I added this to my to-read pile. In it he details, with as much accuracy as can be discerned nearly 150 years later, the events and decisions (and egos!) leading up to The Battle of the Little Bighorn.

The logistics of just how the hostility went down were interesting and educational. However, I had read 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee' a number of years back, and therefore couldn't help but bring to this reading experience a cloud of sadness, hopelessness and anger. While I don't remember the specifics regarding what I may have learned about Custer as part of our public school history curriculum, his cultural legacy as a result of his involvement in Little Bighorn certainly feels like that of a fallen hero. And like so many near-legendary figures whose deeds have become larger than life, let's just say that the real Custer isn't so deserving of anyone's adulation.

Apr 26, 2019

Best book on the subject I've read. Well research and includes many different theories about what happened. I've visited the Little Bighorn battle site and found it hard to match Philbricks narrative regarding the terrain. When you're actually there it seems fairly straight forward about how and where things unfolded. We had the chance to meet Ernie Lapointe, Sitting Bulls great grandson the day we were there. He is mentioned in the book and is an authority on the battle. Massive endnotes for those who want more source information.

HCL_staff_reviews Dec 20, 2018

In an attempt to dispel some of the mythology surrounding the battle, Phlibrick revisits the Little Big Horn and the paths that led to the deadly clash of Custer's Seventh Cavalry and the combined camps of Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors. — John K., Eden Prairie Library

Aug 16, 2017

One of the best books about the last stand. Evan S Connell's Son of the Morning Star may be the best. No one will really know exactly what happened that day because the Indians didn't take prisoners and butchered the wounded, so the only witnesses were the Indians themselves. They were afraid to tell the truth right after the battle and later on may have boasted too much. ( Dozens of Indians claimed they killed Custer, but that no one on that day even knew he'd been there. Forensic evidence turned up after a wildfire there and authors who neither try to lionize Custer nor demonize him like Philbrick and Connell make plausible cases for what did. Had he won that battle, he might have become president.

Feb 29, 2016

Somewhat interesting reading. It tells the truth about Custer and all the others involved in this time. In My opinion Custer was stuck up(or Vain). While I may not be an Native American (Indian)person I do agree with them about some things.

Jan 27, 2016

The Battle of Little Big Horn (or Custer's Last Stand) is one of the closest things we have to an American myth. Custer has alternately been lionized for his courage against the savages and demonized for both his military failures and his war against America's indigenous people. Nathan Philbrick, the author of "Mayflower" and "In the Heart of the Sea," tries to get to the facts in this absorbing, well-researched history (History does contain plenty of description of events, "uncommonreader.") that does as good a job as possible of telling both sides of the story. Iconic figures like Custer, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse are hard to disentangle from legend, but Philbrick humanizes them and puts them in context. It's an important book about an important part of our history. Some other worthwhile books on Native Americans are "Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee," "Black Elk Speaks," and "The Killing of Crazy Horse."

Dec 01, 2014

didn't realize how much research and info is out there on this time period of our history. learned so much about the native americans during this time. The ddetails on Custer and some of his peers was eye opening. what drove them. great story all around.

Jun 25, 2013

A very well balanced and even-handed telling of The Last Stand. I appreciated the inclusion of the Lakota, Arapahoe, Cheyenne and Souix in the retelling of this story. I appreciated Philbrick's research and telling of the story.

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