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A Terrible Glory

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  848 ratings  ·  121 reviews
In June 1876, on a desolate hill above a winding river called "the Little Bighorn," George Armstrong Custer and all 210 men under his direct command were annihilated by almost 2,000 Sioux and Cheyenne. The news of this devastating loss caused a public uproar, and those in positions of power promptly began to point fingers in order to avoid responsibility. Custer, who was c ...more
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Published April 1st 2010 by Findaway World (first published 2008)
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In Little Big Man, the 1974 film based on Thomas Berger's novel, an unhinged George Armstrong Custer, facing death at the hands of Lakota and Cheyenne Indians at the Little Big Horn, rants about Ulysses Grant's drunkeness until being felled by an arrow. It is a classic, seriocomic scene, that is readily available on YouTube if you care to look it up.

Little Big Man was a revisionist western, attempting to make up for years of stereotypical Indian portrayals by...stereotyping the other side. This
Oof. This book rates somewhere between the low twos to the mid fours depending on what chapter your in. I suppose it's my hatred of media frenzies in general that made the whole book difficult to read. After all, the actual important history of Custer's Last Stand was it's effect on America and its culture. The fact that Custer dies and Sitting Bull lives is really only important to the speculative fiction crowd.

I know it isn't fair to blame the author for a history that I just can't find fas
Miles Mathews
I have been a student of Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn for many years, and James Donovan's book is among the best I have ever read on the subject. I agree with historian Robert Utley that the author's use of first-hand sources are superior.

Opinions about Custer are everywhere to be found; however, it has been my experience that most of those who have a strong opinion on either side of the debate have no real knowledge of the subject. Donovan's book is one of the best places to sta
Most history books refer to Custer's battle at the Little Bighorn as merely a historical footnote - more popular mythology than anything else. Read this book and find out the detail and events surrounding the story taking it from footnote to turning point. Custer's days as a Civil War Calvary officer lead him to posting in the west as commander of the 7th Calvary. His goal - passification of the west against the non-treaty "hostiles" or Sioux. Here his path will tragically cross with Sitting Bul ...more
Mansoor Azam
General Custer has always been a topic I wanted to read. so much aura of romanticism built around his last charge. So it was all but natural that I grabbed this one with both hands though I went to buy some other book.
The author builds the story with a lot of poise and effort. Though the title says that this one is about the battle at Big Horn but author goes and builds the character of Custer through his history though it s not very detailed to be counted as a biography but gets you in the gro
Keith Akers
This is the third book I've read on the Little Bighorn incident. It was well written and informative. This book follows a straight chronological sequence.

I actually read this book after reading the Philbrick book on this battle, even though this one was written first. I'd say they are broadly similar, covering the same basic ground, with good maps and fairly easy to follow. Critics who say that Philbrick did not substantially add to Donovan's book, therefore, have a valid point. I found Donovan
Jared Shipley
Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer remains one of the most controversial figures in American history. It seems that for every act of nobility there was an equal act of juvenility. His deep love and devotion to his wife Elizabeth was countered with his boastfulness and arrogance regarding his military ability. He graduated last in his class from West Point, yet led the Third Division during the Civil War, which played vital parts in securing Union lines and, the day before Lee's surrender, seized t ...more
This was one of the best historical accounts I have read in a very long time. It is incredibly well researched and documented. I reread the chapter on Custer's last few minutes a couple of times, it was so well written and descriptive. The confusion of the battlefield is captured as Custer and his men come to realize that while other forces are in the area, help is not likely to show up. Spoiler alert: They all die. Custer, two of his brothers, and one of their nephews were all killed in the bat ...more
Stilted writing in a Custer hagiography

First, Donovan's writing style, while not necessarily pedestrian, is definitely stilted at times and also grating at times. For instance, I think I would have torn out what's left of my hair if I heard the phrase "dundreary Cooke" one more time.

This is nowhere near "Son of the Morning Star" stylistically. And, it has some copy editing problems.

But, let's get to the meat of the book.

While Custer's reputation, certainly among his surviving contemporaries in t
Ben Garrison
A very easy to read history of Custer and the LIttle Bighorn. This would be a good one to read before visiting the battlefield. The book is balanced in its perspective and clearly revealed the conditions and motives behind the big defeat for Custer and the 7th Calvary--and the big, last victory for the Indians.

The book was not easy on the drunken Marcus Reno. Deservedly so. That said, the author could have mentioned the fact that Reno's descendants tried to rehabilitate his name--and they were s
Ted Behrens
A Terrible Glory Custer and the Little Bighorn: The Last Great Battle of the American West by James Donovan. Captures the battle and its aftermath better than any other I've read with over 150 pages of Bibliography. Of particular interest to me are the descriptions of the Reno and Benteen battle which rages on Reno Hill only a few miles from Custer's last stand. In addition Donovan clearly details the convergence of Gen Crook and Gibbons as their troops move through the area during the seige. Th ...more
Bill Brewer
Sep 17, 2014 Bill Brewer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bill by: Park personnel at the Lttle Bighorn National Monument
Custer’s Last Stand, The Battle of the Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse are all names my generation grew up with but until I visited the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument Battlefield and purchased this book I had no idea of the untold story. To put the event in a time perspective, it occurred a hundred years after the Declaration of Independence and in fact news of the battle reached the east coast during the Centennial celebration. It was the worst national event followin ...more
Myke Cole
There are fewer events more contentious in US history than the Little Bighorn, and no character more in dispute than that of Custer. With A Terrible Glory, Donovan declines to take a side, rooting his narrative in the primary sources and sticking (as much as one can) to fact. The result is a gripping story that paints a balanced picture of Custer and the other major players in the Indian Wars, from Sherman to Sheridan to Reno to Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. The book avoids the temptation to giv ...more
Excellent book. Good overview of the Indian war period, Custer's background, and a little of the back and forth between Indian War and Civil War. The pace has a gradual slowdown as you got closer to Little Bighorn. The march to the Little Bighorn was s...l...o...w... but once you got there the descriptions and story telling were excellent. It was not clear through the audiobook what resources were available to compile the story, so a quick look in the library showed what sections were documented ...more
A worthwhile read but the description of the battle could have used more and larger maps. It was hard for me to follow the logistics of the fighting. I was able to get an understanding of the things that caused their failure and how it affected them. Because of its focus on Custer, there was little about the Native American side of things. The author did a pretty good job of conveying a sense that the Indians were protecting their families as it was the intent of the army was to invade the vill ...more
I recommend this book. The author presents an overview of the battles with the Plains Indian tribes from the Sioux uprising in Minnesota and the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado during the Civil War to Wounded Knee. He presents the perspective of the Indians, including the Crow and Arikara Indians who were mortal enemies of the Sioux and served as army scouts.

The author also describes life in the cavalry during the Indian wars. The soldiers were largely poorly trained, poorly equipped and often p
A Terrible Glory tells of the Battle of Little Bighorn from the perspectives of the US Cavalry and the conglomeration of natives gathered at Little Bighorn, while expressing sympathy for the leaders on both sides. The battle, largely misunderstood, is detailed in the book and mostly blames cowardice on the part of certain officers and white man's pride for the disaster that made this battle infamous.

Very intense was Donovan's writing of the battle itself, often flipping back and forth between
Jul 21, 2011 Alex rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
A detailed account of the events surrounding the celebrated "Last Stand" on the Little Big Horn River, Montana Territory, 25th June, 1876, when five troops of the famed 7th Cavalry under their charismatic commander, George Amstrong Custer,were killed to a man by a confederation of Sioux & Cheyenne warriors and the remaining seven troops so severely mauled they barely escaped with their lives.
Occurring barely a week before the Centenary celebrations of the Declaration of Independence, the def
I still don't feel like I'm qualified to write a reliable review of a book on the topic of George A. Custer, the Battle of Little Bighorn, or the Indian wars of the American West. My sense is that James Donovan did a great job researching this book, delving into primary and secondary sources to flesh out the facts about the battle. At times, the book was a little tedious, but it is a superb recounting of the events of the battle. I also felt like Donavan gave very fair treatment to Custer, Marcu ...more
If you want a thorough and well researched account of events, personalities and conflicts both cultural and personal leading up to the Battle of the Little Bighorn and an understanding of the politics, collusion and betrayals in its aftermath this book will satisfy that itch.

While most media portrayals of Custer at the Little Bighorn often make Custer out to be either the hero or the goat, Donovan looks at the evidence and from this we see the human Custer. Here the reader can set aside Custer t
I picked this up because I wanted to know the whole story, the true story, the real story. Of course I should have realized that one can never know the whole, true, real story of anything because all history is clouded by perception and current trends.

The Custer/Little Bighorn story is one of those that has had a remarkably fluid back-and-forth of revisionist touches. When I went to the Little Bighorn National Monument in 1996, I came out of there thinking Custer would have been fine if Reno and
Certainly a well written book, but I would take his conclusions with at least a grain of salt. These are arguments that have wandered back and forth for over 130 years now and will never be entirely resolved since Custer and the men who rode with him all died. He does a very good job of explaining why Custer acted in the way he did, so you won't find Custer the madman of the movie Little Big Man in this book, but something a little closer to the Custer of They Died with their Boots on, but drawn ...more
Jun 24, 2008 Tom rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in American history
Shelves: nonfiction
Four stars for shedding new light on an American icon in a readable, enjoyable and fascinating account.

First off, everything I ever learned about "General" Custer turns out to be wrong. No surprise, really, as I learned that stuff in high school. But it's safe to say that history has been unkind to Custer.

A Terrible Glory details the events that led up to Little Bighorn both from the perspective of Custer and his soldiers and the Sioux who they attacked. It's well written, elegantly structured,
The author shared his vast research in an interesting and readable story. He was able to make the complicated battle into an understandable and human tragedy. Custer was a complex man with many issues that led him to this battle. There were many issues that dragged Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull into this story. The author was able to write personal information about the events and people because of diaries and letters. Amazing.
Zachary Wagoner
This was a very interesting book to read. I had not known much about the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and this was a fairly good introduction. Not only did I get a picture of the battle, but also the events that led up to and followed the battle. There is also a good amount of information on the key players in this event. This book doesn't share the story from just one side of the conflict either, though it does lean more towards information gained from the American side, there is still some go ...more
Donovan gave a very thorough description of the leadup to the battle of Little Bighorn and a detailed account of the battle itself. He also got into the blame game afterwards. I came away from the book with a better understanding of how the battle fit in with federal-Indian relations in the 19th century, and Donovan does well in helping the reader to understand the various whites and Indians involved in the story without romanticizing or demonizing either. There's quite a bit more about U.S. mil ...more
An excellent overview of a famous event that challenges most of the misconceptions surrounding Custer's ego and glorious pride. Yeah, he was a flawed man, but he wasn't nearly as rash, imprudent, or wild as popular history teaches. I only knew about Custer what I had heard from others and seen on occasional, brief documentary clips or other media portrayals. This book added a very appreciated layer of humanity to Custer and those who served with him. It's first two chapters set up the characters ...more
Sam Price
All of the myth behind this battle really gets parsed, and we're left with a gripping account of the last stand of the Native Americans. With the larger-than-life Custer and his inadequate officers, it's a telling tale of how things were not all that long ago. Using incomplete maps and operating with ridiculous gusto and little-to-no field strategy, it's no surprise that the large, three tribe force of Natives--meeting, ironically, to discuss the problem of the 'white man'--were able to defeat t ...more
Edward Hilquist
Very interested book looking into the history of how events lead to this battle of Little Bighorn, and what came out of it. I was amazed on the amount of historical data they had from people (including many quotes from letters, investigative trials, etc) involved in the events to put a ton of detail to the people, personalities, and challenges.
In " A Terrible Glory," James Donovan has produced a fascinating and well-written history of the battle of the Little Bighorn, the events that led up to it, and the aftermath. Most interesting is Donovan's view that Custer was somewhat less rash and a better military leader than his current reputation would indicate, that he was more sympathetic to the plight of the Indians than Generals Sherman and Sheridan, the latter having uttered the infamous quote, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian," ...more
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James Donovan is the author of the classic illustrated account of Custer's Last Stand, A Terrible Glory, and Custer and the Little Bighorn. He lives in Dallas.
More about James Donovan...
The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo--and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation Custer and Little Bighorn Blood of Heroes Waverly Woods Protector Harvest of Barren Regrets: The Army Career of Frederick William Benteen, 1834-1898

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