Custer Survivor: The End of a Myth, the Beginning of a Legend


Proof of survivor at Little Big Horn. History Channel shows episode repeatedly.
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Custer Survivor: The End of the Myth, the Beginning of the Legend

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Proof of survivor at Little Big Horn. History Channel shows episode repeatedly.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
For decades, Custer's "Last Stand" at Little Big Horn has captured the American imagination. Remembered by some as the tragic result of imperialist policies and by others as a noble sacrifice for American expansion, the one thing everyone learns in school is that Custer's battle against Lakota and Cheyenne forces left no Americans alive. In this chronicle of meticulous research, handwriting analysis and document investigation, journalist Koster turns that myth on its ear: though a number of people claim to have fought at (and survived) Little Big Horn, Koster identifies the one reluctant claimant who actually did-Sergeant Frank Finkel of Company C. A carefully deconstructed historical mystery sure to thrill American history enthusiasts, Koster's narrative and methods are entirely transparent, presenting all the information and leaving readers to draw their own conclusions. Though Finkel's story isn't particularly dramatic, Koster's pursuit of the truth behind a great American myth makes for a compelling tale in itself.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Over the years there have been a number of claims of survivors of Custer's battalion at the Little Bighorn in 1876, but none has held up under close scrutiny—until now. Journalist Koster (The Road to Wounded Knee) carefully reconstructs the life of Frank Finkel, second sergeant of C Company. He marshals all of the available documentary, historical, archaeological, and forensic evidence to show that the Frank Finckel born in Ohio in 1854 was the George August Finckle who enlisted in the Seventh Cavalry in 1872, the Frank Finkel who died in Dayton, WA, in 1930, and the "long sword" whom Rain-in-the-Face reported being told escaped the battle on a runaway horse and whom he saw in Chicago in 1893. Koster also tells how Finkel's desire to enhance his status and his second wife's efforts to erase all traces of his first wife, supposedly part Cherokee, misled researchers for decades but also kept Finkel's story alive. VERDICT This well-written and carefully reasoned argument is essential reading for scholars and students of the West and will be of great interest to anyone with even a passing interest in Custer and the Little Bighorn. Highly recommended.—Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933909035
  • Publisher: History Publishing Company, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/2/2010
  • Pages: 222
  • Sales rank: 367,116
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

John Koster is known for his thorough knowledge of Native American history which has been translated into German, Czech, Russian and Japanese. His first book, The Road to Wounded Knee(Bantam, 1974) won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Distinguished Public Service for his personal coverage and analytical research into the American Indian Movement.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 5

Preface 9

Introduction 11

Part 1 The Man Who was Frank Finkel

Drums in the Night 17

The Attack 31

Surviving After the Battle 47

Before Little Big Horn 55

Enlisting and Everything Prussian 63

Life After Little Big Horn 73

The Admission 101

Life in Public View 105

The Final Years 115

Part 2 The Experts Pro and Con

Starting the Fire, Wrong Smoke Signals 129

The Naysayer 153

The Champion 163

Part 3 The Facts

The End of Her Trail 171

They Almost Made It 173

The Bravest Man and the Horse That Made It 177

After the Battle 181

It's All in the Writing, the Final Fact 187

Afterword 195

Bibliography 199

Index 211

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