. November 2012. 256p. 978-1-45162-620-9. 35.
Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist McMurtry (Lonesome Dove) assesses the short life of Gen. George Armstrong Custer and Custer’s ongoing role in shaping concepts of the American West. As a seasoned Western literary icon, McMurtry cuts through the immense body of Custer literature to write an engaging, often irreverent, biography for a 21st-century audience more familiar with pop culture than detailed academic accounts of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Contemporary documentary photographs and artwork (more than 150 color images) are used to great effect for providing historic context. McMurtry produces a balanced account of Custer’s controversial life and death, keeping his comments relevant, succinct, and compelling. ­
VERDICT Strongly recommended for public and school libraries as a masterful and insightful biography, as well as a guide to the key historical sources about Custer. This text will be appreciated by both scholars and Custer enthusiasts, even though theories about whether the general’s nature was inherently heroic, psychotic, or cowardly are not discussed here at any length.

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