The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

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The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

Author: Nathaniel Philbrick
Publisher: Viking
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 466
Cover Price: $ 30.00

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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.

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Background Information

George A. Custer was an officer during the Civil War who continued his military career in the Indian Wars until his defeat and death at Little Big Horn. The Battle of the Little Big Horn resulted in the annihilation of all the troops under the command of Col. George Custer by Sioux Indians. The bastion of the Alamo in San Antonio was defended by a small band of Texans against Mexican general Santa Anna during the Texas Revolution. All the defenders died. Cavalry originally consisted of armed men on horseback, but in the modern army refers to men on mechanized horses, such as tanks. The Sioux Indians were a major tribe in the Northern Great Plains, who waged a long struggle against enroachment by settlers until defeated by the US Army. The Cheyenne Indian tribe was one of the principal tribes of the Great Plains.