Saturday, September 8, 2007


Coming soon from the University of Chicago Press: Custerology: The Enduring Legacy of the Indian Wars and George Armstrong Custer by Michael A. Elliott.

About the book
, from the publisher:

On a hot summer day in 1876, George Armstrong Custer led the Seventh Cavalry to the most famous defeat in U.S. military history. Badly outnumbered and exhausted from a day of forced marches, Custer’s forces were quickly overwhelmed by warriors from the Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes. The Seventh Cavalry lost more than half of the 400 men who rode into the Indian camp, and every soldier under Custer’s direct command was killed.

It’s easy to understand why this tremendous defeat shocked the American public at the time. But with Custerology, Michael A. Elliott tackles the far more complicated question of why the battle retains such power for Americans today. Weaving vivid historical accounts of Custer at Little Bighorn with contemporary commemorations that range from battle reenactments to the unfinished Crazy Horse memorial, Elliott reveals a Custer and a West whose legacies are still vigorously contested. He takes readers to each of the important places of Custer’s life, from his Civil War home in Michigan to the site of his famous demise, to show how more than a century later, the legacy of Custer still haunts the American imagination. Along the way, Elliott introduces us to Native American activists, Park Service rangers, and devoted history buffs; draws us into the arcana of Custerology and the back rooms of High Plains bars; and reveals how Custer and the Indian Wars continue to be both a powerful symbol of America’s bloody past and a crucial key to understanding the nation’s multicultural present.

By turns dramatic and meditative, Custerology moves seamlessly between past and present, delivering both a bracing narrative and a potent reminder of why we care so much about history in the first place.
Read an excerpt from Custerology.