I didn’t get to post this earlier as this weekend non-fiction review since our church was going all out for VBS but here it is…
Review: Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America
June 19, 2017 by SLIMJIM
I didn’t get to post this earlier as this weekend non-fiction review since our church was going all out for VBS but here it is…T.J. Stiles. Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America. New York, NY: Knopf, October 27th 2015. 608 pp.
5 out of 5
This book is a biography on the legendary George Armstrong Custer. The book also was the recipient of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for History. For the general readers it might be good to know that the book is more on the personality of Custer than a book solely on military operational history of Custer’s campaign. So it is quite readable and makes for a fascinating read.
Early in the book the author noted the public understanding of Custer of how Custer is brash, reckless and flamboyant. The author notes he wants to dispel the caricature of Custer and also situate Custer in his time. Readers will definitely appreciate the author situating Custer in his time period especially since we no longer live in the nineteenth century. However I felt the book does affirm a lot of the public understanding of Custer especially with his ego and ambition. But in other areas of Custer’s life we also see details that goes beyond the caricature. This is especially true with the area of race with both Blacks and Native Americans. This is a recurring topic throughout the book and the author noted the swing of Custer’s view and outlook. At times Custer’s view and behavior is contradicting. Custer’s family were strong Democrats and that political persuasion never fully left George Custer as an adult. This was during a time when Lincoln and many Northern politicians were Republicans. Yet Custer served in the Army for a Republican administration. Custer had an escaped Black slave to run his own household which empowered the woman at a time when most Blacks’ knowledge of power was being enslaved by others. While Custer at times express racists views at other times he stood up against oppression against Blacks as it was evident with his reaction against persecution of Blacks in Texas after the war. The other thing that was illuminating was reading of Custer’s wife outlook on Blacks. She was much more ignorant and reflected her time. With Custer’s wife as a foil one see Custer in various instances were different than others during his time… More at the source.