Author(s): Tom Hatch
Published by St. Martin on 12/10/2013
Genres: History, Biography
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From George Armstrong Custer’s graduation from West Point to the daring cavalry charges that propelled him to the rank of General and national fame to a romance with his wife Libbie Bacon that is unmatched in American history, Custer’s exploits are the stuff of legend. Not only did he capture the first Confederate battle flag of the war and receive General Lee’s messenger who had come to begin negotiations for surrender at Appomattox, but he was a key part of nearly every major engagement in the east, always leading his men from the front with a bravery seldom seen before or since.
For decades, historians have looked at Custer strictly through the lens of his death on the frontier, casting him as a failure. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While some may say that the events that took place at the Little Big Horn are illustrative of America’s bloody expansion, they have unjustly eclipsed Custer’s otherwise extraordinarily life and outstanding career and fall far short of encompassing his incredible service to his country.
This biography of thundering cannons, pounding hooves and stunning successes tells the full and true story of one of history’s most dynamic and misunderstood figures. With Glorious War, award-winning historian Thom Hatch reexamines Custer’s early career to rebalance the scales and show why his epic fall could never have happened without the spectacular rise that made him a legend.
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Glorious War is a biography covering the exploits of George Custer’s Civil War career as well as touching on some of the years just before and after the war. It attempts to give a more in-depth look at one of the few soldiers whose life after the Civil War over shadowed his actions during it.
I read a lot of biographies and to me they are really hit or miss. While the subject is important in getting me interested in a biography it is really the tone the author uses that makes or breaks it for me. In Glorious War Thom Hatch uses a flowing narrative style that does an excellent job of combining the need to relay information about the subject’s life while still making it an enjoyable read. For me this is one of the most enjoyable biographies I have read and joins a small group of similar books that I would consider reading again. That is even higher praise considering I only had a passing interest in the man prior to reading this book.
The battle scenes were especially well described and reading it I could not help but liken it to the work of Shelby Foote, who for me is the most enjoyable author to read on the Civil War era. The battles and Custer’s place in them was high paced and exciting to read. Again not something that is found in most biographies.
The research is well done and, while some things might have been left out, I felt no holes or deficiencies in my understanding of Custer’s life and actions during the war. I had always known he had notable exploits during the war years and that his future placement leading the soldiers at Little Big Horn was in no small part to his legacy from the war.
This is an excellent biography of both the Man and the time. If you are interested in Custer and looking for background or want a slightly different angle on the Civil War then this is a book worth picking up and reading.