On Nathaniel Philbrick's "The Last Stand," in Memory of George Armstrong Custer

Writing a book about Custer’s Last Stand is a bit tricky, considering you have stiff competition from Evan S. Connell’s masterpiece Son of the Morning Star (1986), but Nathaniel Philbrick’s new book, The Last Stand, just published, is an immediate hit. He emphasizes the Native American side of the story even more so than Connell, and is more critical of Frederick Benteen, who was one of the surviving officers of the other battalions at the Little Bighorn. He also contrasts Custer’s life story with Sitting Bull’s, his Native counterpart and victor. I’m a sucker for Custer stories, and have a badass character in my new novel by the name of George Armstrong Crowfoot, who is a mix of both traditions. He’s based on a Lakota dude I knew years ago, a truly scary bouncer, six foot four tall, totally neurotic, who would wear a T-shirt with the legend Custer Had It Coming below a bloody tomahawk.

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