A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn - the Last Great Battle of the American West

A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn - the Last Great Battle of the American West

by James Donovan
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A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn - the Last Great Battle of the American West by James Donovan

In June of 1876, on a hill above a winding river called "the Little Bighorn," George Armstrong Custer and all 210 men under his direct command were annihilated by nearly 2,000 Sioux and Cheyenne. This devastating loss caused an uproar, and public figures pointed fingers in order to avoid responsibility. Custer, who was conveniently dead, took the brunt of the blame.

The truth, however, was far more complex. A TERRIBLE GLORY is the first book to relate the entire story of this endlessly fascinating battle, and the first to call upon all the vital new forensic research of the past quarter century. It is also the first book to bring to light the details of the army cover-up—and unravel one of the greatest mysteries in US military history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316067478
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 05/14/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 165,942
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

James Donovan is the author of the classic illustrated account of Custer's Last Stand, Custer and the Little Bighorn. He lives in Dallas.

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A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn - The Last Great Battle of the American West 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
and I'm not. Uniquely for a battlefield, at Little Big Horn stones mark the places where soldiers were found after the battle. One can stand on the terrain, among the stones, and even with little knowldge of tactics and firefights see how the battle around Custer played out. Custer lost control of the battle and his units were destroyed piecemeal. Donovan captures the disasterous mess and the afterword, and provides a good, though short, version of the 150-odd years of prologue. He does not, however, draw the unremarkable though obvious conclusions inherent in his story: Custer's and the 7th Cav's failures were due to more than hubris. Custer's experience in the mass battles of the Civil War, with virtually unlimited resources, high-quality troops, and abundant adjacent support had little application to a non-traditional foe when he had fewer resources, needed to be more self-sufficient in the field, and had lower-quality troops. He was a general in the Civil War at the age of a modern lieutenant, learned his lessons young, and didn't adapt to remarkably different circumstances. Donovan's book would be of interest not only to Old West and cavalry fans, but also to historians and strategists who would like additional chapters in the story of the US military adapting, or failing to adapt, to unconventional warfare with peoples who are just not going to adapt to American ways. Same story, different century. Unsurprisingly, these lessons were also lost on the Army at the time, and an organizational and national failure was laid on an individual. Lastly, Donovan does a fine job providing the Indian's perspective, from the sorry history of broken treaties and outright fraud, through the battle and the aftermath.
dh1000 More than 1 year ago
Another very good book that has came out in the last 10 years or so that deal with the facts and cuts through all the garbage that the US Army have thrown down since the battle. This book also helps put to rest the one sided propaganda crap that really started with the movie Little Big Man. (Good entertaining movie but its fiction and I am amazed how many people actually think this movie is a true story it is laughable) I would also like to add about the archelogical digs that fox did. First of all he used Indian testimony that there was no last stand and I have read countless books on the subject and for every Indian testimony he gives that it was a short battle I can show you 10 Indians testimonials that say just the opposite. For not finding more shell casings on last stand hill he forgot to mention up into the 1960's it was legal for people to walk the battlefiel and pick up shell casings and people did. There also has been other research of the area and these people have said themselves they have picked up shell casings. He also failed to mention there has been a road that has been put in and a monument. Most of the major Indian players from Sitting Bull on down have talked about how the soldiers put up a brave fight on Last Stand Hill. When Terry arrived they also found there was a breast work of around 40 horses killed that the soldiers layed behind to fire but this fact has seemed to be covered up over the years. the Army and especially Beenteen and Reno had to make it seem like a route to cover up their cowardice and indifference. The new evidence also points out that there was close to 200 Indians that died fighting custer which points to a hard fight. The army also made the Indian camp larger than it was they would like us to believe they were 4000 warriors Beenteen in one of his many lies even said 9000 at one time but there was 1500 warriors with the the possibility of maybe 2000 which was exactly what the Army believed they would find all along.custer had his faults but what History has done to his memory and how it has portrayed him is criminal. Beenteen and Reno are the two history should villafy and then guys like Grant, Terry and Sherman should receive their fair share of the blame for covering up. If you like to read some other good books the best one might be To Hell with Honor by Larry Skelnar.
kirkwood59 More than 1 year ago
George Armstrong Custer certainly had his personal faults, including self promotion and a huge ego. However, the writer makes a good case that the Battle of the Little Bighorn and the subsequent destruction of the Seventh Cavalry should not be blamed on his shortcomings. Rather, many mistakes by a number of partiscipants contributed to this tragic event. The book also provides some interesting insights into the post Civil War lives of President Grant, General Sherman, Sitting Bull,Crazy Horse and, of course, Custer.
glauver More than 1 year ago
This is a solid, well-written account of the Little Big Horn. The author sheds light on some aspects of the battle and aftermath that were new to me. However, I think he underplayed some of the archeological work done by the Fox-Scott team in the 1980s that suggests that the Custer battalion disintegrated under fire and his account of the Last Stand seems unconvincing in that light. I still feel that Evan S. Connell's Son of the Morning Star is the best, most original book written about the battle and Custer. Stephen Ambrose's Crazy Horse and Custer is a good dual biography of both men and Gregory Urwin's Custer Victorious demonstrates why Custer had such a high reputation in the post Civil War Army.
StPeteBuzz More than 1 year ago
If you are interested in the history of the US west after the civil war, this book provides incredible detail. You may find the beginning somewhat slow as the backgrounds are developed, but if you really want to understand the actions of the players during this period the detail is essential. It makes it much easier to understand the interactions of Washington DC, the US Army, civilians and the native Americans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been fascinated by Little Bighorn since 1968, when I served in the 7th Infantry [Custer's old Seventh Cavalry]in Vietnam. Serving with me was Gary Medicine Bird, grandson of Kills-At-Night, a Cheyenne warrior who fought in this battle, who is mentioned in the book 'Son of the Morning Star,' and who lived to be over 100 years old. Old enough to tell his grandson firsthand about the events of that day.--Tom Reilly
Guest More than 1 year ago
Custer split his command and stopped upon the ridge above the indian encampment to watch the other column charge toward the indians.This was reported by the surviving indians after the battle but, was ignored. Custed planned on cutting the escape off after the indians were run out of the village. He would not beleve his scouts that the encampment was that large,plus he was a glory seeker. After watching the attempted charge fail he realized his mistake and with indians charging from the revine was in no position to attack,retreat or run.Although there were attempts to run. They did the only thing left: dismount and die.
ShelbyMC More than 1 year ago
I have been to Custer National Park and after reading this interesting account will be making plans to return. The author takes a story that is very well known, and through very thorough research brings to light new and interesting conclusions of what probably happened on a long ago time in the untamed wilds of our very young country. I found myself unable to put the book down after believing that I knew the story of what transpired leading up to the battle of the Little Big Horn. But with the conclusions drawn and the information provided there is a deeper insight into the motives and emotions of those involved. During my reading I found myself with feelings and emotional ties to the main participants that surprised and delighted me. Be prepared for an unexpected thrilling ride to the conclusion!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found A Terrible Glory to be a fair and balanced portrayl of Custer, and based on extensive research. The book was neither a tired attempt to glorify Custer and gloss over his shortcomings and mistakes (there were several), nor another book devoted to laying the blame for the Little Big Horn disaster solely at Custer's feet. Rather, the author explained how the result of the battle also was the product of the mistakes and cowardice of the other officers, the soldiers' gross underestimation of the strength and skill of the Indian warriors, and the poor organization and training of the soldiers, including the officers, who accompanied Custer. I also enjoyed the author's inclusion of a human element by explaining the strengths and weaknesses of the players in the story, as well as the effect of the Little Big Horn on those who survived or were left behind (Mrs. Custer, for example). Overall, I found the book to be an easy read that should appeal to those, like me, who had little knowledge of the Little Big Horn or Custer, and Custer or Little Big Horn buffs looking for a fresh take.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm not a Custerophile as others who rated this book seem to be. In fact, about all I knew about the man was that he was defeated at Little Bighorn by Sitting Bull and the Sioux tribe. I have, however stopped by the battlefield on a number of occasions whilst driving from Washington to Colorado and always found it to be a fascinating place. That having been said, I could not put this book down. I'm sure, as others are wont to point out, there might be a few factual errors in this book but I certainly didn't care. I read on with reckless abandon. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Good book - a little confusing when explaining the Terry,Gibbon,Cook marches to find the hostiles. Some stuff is new, but like the titanic, history can't be rewritten. Somewhat slow beginning but then it takes off and shows the confusion of battle. The aftermath was the sad part of the book - no one won in this scenario. Custer was dead, Reno / Benteen and the rest of the officers chose to protect the honor of the regiment. Libbie suffered and the indians never got what the originally wanted - to be left alone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A candid, objective, and refreshing look at the mystery of June 25, 1876, a blazing-hot day of thirst, terror, and tragedy for Custer and 220 troopers of his beloved Seventh Cavalry. A must for every Custer fan!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I knew very little about the battle before I read this book. It was a gift from a friend and I ended up really getting into it. It was the opposite of dull -- the characters came alive and I could imagine the scenes. I'm usually more of a movie person, but this book made me want to read more. I'm going to pick up another book by the author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is subtitled Custer and the Little Bighorn the Last Great Battle of the American West.   It is one of the most interesting history books I have ever read.  The author held my interest throughout the book and made me want to continue to read late into the evening.  The history was well balanced with biographical information on the members of the U.S. Army as well as the Native Americans that were involved in the battle.  The book was extremely well researched with extensive notes and quite a few pictures and maps to bring things into vibrant perspective. I always say that I enjoy a book when I learn something by reading it.  Naturally this was a history book so I expected to learn things, and I learned more than I imagined I would.  Because the author starts by giving background information on the participants I learned some very interesting things about the American military during the Civil War and the way the military and government interacted.  I was also quite surprised to learn of how young some of the generals were during the Civil War.  George Armstrong Custer was a cut up at West Point and graduated at the bottom of his class.  He graduated in the “second class” of 1861.  The course of studies was compressed so that the last year (normally the fifth) was accomplished in one month due to the Civil War starting. Custer served as a Lieutenant and was promoted quickly through the ranks through “brevet” promotions.  A brevet rank was an honorary promotion given for gallantry or meritorious service and usually imparted little authority and no extra pay.  Custer made it all the way to Major General at the ripe old age of 23 during the Civil War.  His final regular rank was Lt Col. This book also gave good background on the Sioux and explained how they lived and organized their tribes.  The largest groups of Sioux were the Lakota, then the Dakota and the Nakota.  Donovan wrote about Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and the Indian culture.  Donovan tells very interesting stories about their early lives and how they became the great leaders of their people. The battle of the Little Big Horn is detailed with maps and firsthand accounts so it jumps off the pages and becomes visual as you read it.  There is a lot more to the battle than just a “massacre” by Indians.   Donovan finishes the book by relating the fallout from the battle and the court of inquiry into it.  He also gives the reader a feel for the mood of the general population as they found out about it.   Excellent book.
UDT-Sailor More than 1 year ago
A Terrible Glory was fantastically written. My previous impression on the Battle of Little Bighorn was changed drastically. Having Custer taking the majority of the blame for the masacre (as most people would understand it) is simply unjust. This book is a great read. You get a more compelling sense in what actually happened at the Little Bighorn.
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derbyboyjr More than 1 year ago
This was a great book, i read it cover to cover in day. I would read it again, its that good.
Solitaireyqueen More than 1 year ago
I just recently got interested in the civil war era and found this book to be very good. It dragged a bit in certain parts, but James Donovan really paints a vivid picture of Little Bighorn and the men who were there.
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