The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn

Feb 9th, 2012 | By | Category: 23-3: Technology and Culture, Media Reviews

THE LAST STAND: CUSTER, SITTING BULL, AND THE BATTLE OF THE LITTLE BIGHORNBy Nathaniel Philbrick
Viking Press (2010)

Review by Ryan Winn

There are many reasons to read Nathaniel Philbrick’s book, The Last Stand. Biography lovers will enjoy the book for the author’s compelling narrative voice, thoroughly documented research, and ability to frame both Custer and Sitting Bull within their respective social and political contexts.

The average reader will enjoy how Philbrick seamlessly weaves firsthand accounts and testimonies from both sides of the battle into his narrative. Scholars will enjoy how Philbrick illuminates the consequences of Custer’s defeat for the Sioux, the Cheyenne, and the United States’ American Indian policy.

And historians will enjoy how Philbrick solidifies the connections among Custer’s Last Stand, the Wounded Knee Massacre, and Sitting Bull’s murder. Yet the best reason to read Philbrick’s book is that despite the fact that he presents mythical figures in trying circumstances that have epic consequences, Philbrick never passes judgment. That verdict is left for his readers.

Ryan Winn is the Humanities Department chair at College of Menominee Nation in Keshena and Green Bay, WI.

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