Monday, September 16, 2019

Killing Custer Book Review Essay

From time to time, a book of true historical significance is written on a subject that has been written on almost endlessly. The Battle of the Little Big Horn is one of the most written about, speculated on, celebrated, talked about, and glorified events in American History. Popularly known as â€Å"Custer’s Last Stand†, it has been the subject of many films, documentaries, novels, and was even re-enacted at every Wild West Show put on by Buffalo Bill Cody. In the work Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fate of the Plains Indians, Welch and Stekler do an excellent job in the subject matter at hand, and come to the correct conclusion that this battle, which was a huge military disaster for the United States, directly resulted in an even greater disaster for the Indian victors who won it: that is, total defeat and total subjugation. The first chapter sets up the massacre of the Blackfeet on the Marias River, James Welch and Paul Stekler have done a magnificent job in researching and putting forth, a new book on this subject that has been so written about. Citing much of the new discoveries, that is archeology, and the Indian accounts, Welch was originally contacted by Stekler to do a script for a documentary for PBS’s â€Å"American Experience: Last Stand at Little Bighorn†. They worked on it together, and that particular one hour documentary was excellent. Feeling that he hadn’t exhausted the subject, Welch delved more deeply into it, and wished to write a book on the subject. â€Å"Killing Custer† was the result, and it is quite excellent indeed. It is a stunning and thrilling read from cover to cover. The information is not wholly new, but Welch and Stekler combine all of the newest discoveries into one stirring volume, and they stress the narratives, which in the past were largely discarded and disclaimed, of the Indian accounts of the battle, after all, they were the ones who survived it! The authors rightly put the battle into its historical perspective, pointing out that this huge defeat of the United States Military led directly to the total subjugation and defeat of the Plains Indians, putting them on reservations once and for all, with the final defeat and insult at Wounded Knee, the massacre that was so unnecessary and so tragic.

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