Custer's Road to Disaster: The Path to Little Bighorn

Overview

The death of George Armstrong Custer ended the life of one of the most flamboyant, brave, careless, and fascinating characters to ever wear a United States military uniform. His dramatic rise during the Civil War to the brevet rank of brigadier general at twenty-three, and his uncanny ability to stay alive regardless of how recklessly he flung himself at the enemy, gave rise to his image as an almost mythical figure. His life was filled with such good fortune that the term "Custer's Luck" was used to refer to an ...

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Custer's Road to Disaster: The Path to Little Bighorn

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Overview

The death of George Armstrong Custer ended the life of one of the most flamboyant, brave, careless, and fascinating characters to ever wear a United States military uniform. His dramatic rise during the Civil War to the brevet rank of brigadier general at twenty-three, and his uncanny ability to stay alive regardless of how recklessly he flung himself at the enemy, gave rise to his image as an almost mythical figure. His life was filled with such good fortune that the term "Custer's Luck" was used to refer to an unusually fortuitous event.Road to Disaster examines Custer's unusual mental and emotional make-up, which played out in his military career, his relationship with his wife, and in the death he and many of his men found at the end of their march into Montana. A clearer picture of the man appears, providing answers as to why military success followed him to the top of his career, and why the Battle of the Little Bighorn became such a shocking disaster in the summer of 1876.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this laudatory history, true crime writer Sullivan (Vampire: The Richard Chase Murders) traces the short and parabolic life of George Armstrong Custer from his inauspicious start at West Point, where he finished last in his class, to his inglorious end at Little Bighorn, where he and over 250 of his men were killed by a force of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians. While at the military academy, Custer demonstrated in nearly every way possible his lack of qualifications for leading men into battle—his academic marks were abysmal and he routinely racked up nearly enough demerits to warrant expulsion, yet his “boyish antics” made him popular with classmates. Nevertheless, the Union needed every officer it could wrangle for the impending Civil War. During the conflict, Custer seemed to reinvent himself—he married and proved to be a strong cavalry leader—but it was not for his successes that he would be remembered. After the war died down, another kind of civil war sprang up, this time in the West against the Indians. Sullivan’s roadmap of Custer’s life and demise is succinct and serviceable, but it’s a well-worn path and the scenery will be familiar to anyone who’s walked it before. Photos and map. (June)
From the Publisher
He rose to the Army's pinnacles at age 23, earning him the endearing title "boy general". But Mr. Sullivan says there's more to it than high rank at young age. George Armstrong Custer's boyhood – impetuous, rash, carefree, even rebellious – never disappeared, molding the icon's battle successes and failures, most notably his last hurrah at the Little Big Horn. Was it all foreordained? A provocative read, this road to disaster invites you to be the judge.—Richard Allan Fox, author of Archaeology, History, and Custer's Last Battle Kevin M. Sullivan has written the best biography ever published about George Armstrong Custer and a page turner to boot! Unlike other books about GAC that just concentrate on the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Sullivan starts literally at the Boy General's birth, taking him forward through childhood and into adulthood. He shows how his personality was formed, making the final debacle inevitable. He also treats Custer with the respect he is due as a great soldier who if he hadn't perished in his late 30s might have gone onto a very successful political career. So if you want to get an entirely new perspective on an American icon, read this book! —Fred Rosen, author, Lobster BoyIn this laudatory history, true crime writer Sullivan (Vampire: The Richard Chase Murders) traces the short and parabolic life of George Armstrong Custer from his inauspicious start at West Point, where he finished last in his class, to his inglorious end at Little Bighorn, where he and over 250 of his men were killed by a force of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians. While at the military academy, Custer demonstrated in nearly every way possible his lack of qualifications for leading men into battle—his academic marks were abysmal and he routinely racked up nearly enough demerits to warrant expulsion, yet his "boyish antics" made him popular with classmates. Nevertheless, the Union needed every officer it could wrangle for the impending Civil War. During the conflict, Custer seemed to reinvent himself—he married and proved to be a strong cavalry leader—but it was not for his successes that he would be remembered. After the war died down, another kind of civil war sprang up, this time in the West against the Indians. Sullivan's roadmap of Custer's life and demise is succinct and serviceable, but it's a well-worn path and the scenery will be familiar to anyone who's walked it before. Photos and map. —Publisher's WeeklyA wonderful introduction to the 'Boy General' but those well familiar with Custer will also find much of interest. Sullivan provides a pleasing writing style to take us from Custer's beginnings to his end, with fascinating vignettes along the way. Should find space on the shelves of anyone enthralled by the Custer story and the Great Plains Indian Wars. —Jeff Barnes, author, The Great Plains Guide to CusterUntil George A. Custer's dramatic death at age 36, "Custer's Luck" referred to an unusually fortuitous happening. In "Custer's Road to Disaster: The Path to Little Bighorn," author Kevin Sullivan analyzed Custer's miscalculations in the Battle of the Little Bighorn — his foolish belief in the unstoppable power of his regiment, his refusal to heed scouts' advice, his idea the Indians would flee — and connected them with the events and relationships that shaped Custer's life and character. —Kristen Inbody, Great Falls Tribune
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762784417
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/25/2013
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 535,805
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin Sullivan is the author of The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History. He is also a former contributing writer for Snitch, a paper that was at one time published in five states, devoted to issues of crime and the law.

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