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3.04  ·  Rating Details ·  488 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
In this lavishly illustrated volume, Larry McMurtry, the greatest chronicler of the American West, tackles for the first time one of the paramount figures of Western and American history.

On June 25, 1876, General George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry attacked a large Lakota Cheyenne village on the Little Bighorn River in Montana Territory. He lost not only the battl
ebook, 192 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Simon & Schuster
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Bill  Kerwin
Jul 02, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it liked it
Shelves: history, biography

Most readers know Larry McMurtry as a fine writer of fiction, but fewer people know he is a master of the short biography. "Crazy Horse" is an example of such a biography. "Custer" isn't. Which is not to say that "Custer" is without its virtues and pleasures.

"Custer" is a sumptuous coffee table book, full of a score of pictures of the Colonel and Mrs. Custer, and--even better--at least two score photographs of Native Americans--most of them involved in this great final victory of the unwinnable
You don't have to be much of a salesperson to sell me a book on Custer or the fight at Little Big Horn, so when I saw this offering by Larry McMurtry I had my wallet out pretty darn quick. After all, McMurtry had penned Lonesome Dove , one of the best darn westerns ever. I soon found out that being a capable writer of fiction doesn't necessarily make one a capable biographer. I got the impression that he was thinking:

"I'm Larry McMurtry and I have a zillion books in print so I really don't hav
Michael Custer
Nov 11, 2012 Michael Custer rated it did not like it
This book is so full of inaccuracies that it has to be dismissed as trash. I will give two examples. One place in the book he correctly states that after a drunken binge Custer remained a teetotaler for the rest of his life. However, it states that at the Little Bighorn Custer was drinking whiskey. The quote is on page 141. "Custer,who was sampling two fine kegs of liquor from one of the packs, probably had no idea that Reno was as deep in trouble as he had been. What an outrageous lie! Sorry ...more
Dec 20, 2012 Larry rated it did not like it
"Custer" is a well illustrated but badly written book. I don't mean that McMurtry is ungrammatical, or that he is unknowlegeable, but that he has produced an ill-organized and inadequately conceived book. Individual sentences make sense, more or less, but they are not connected to the sentences around them in any meaningful way. The same is true of phrases, paragraphs, and chapters. You could change their order any way you wanted to and the effects of the change wouldn't decrease the book's ...more
Aug 07, 2015 Michelle rated it did not like it
Shelves: bios, history, abandoned
Okay so I didn't abandon it but......this book sucked donkey balls. First of all, what is wrong with publishing these days? No one can afford a good proofreader or editor? Crazy. And why did McMurtry write this? His greed, his publishers' greed? He clearly didn't like Custer or his wife and put the most negative, simplistic spin on nearly every chapter of this man's life. No balance was attempted nor accuracy, nuance.

I almost got out a notebook to write page numbers and mistakes down. In the fir
Dec 01, 2012 Doug rated it liked it
OK, this was a long way from being my favorite McMurtry. Obviously, fiction is his strong suit. However, I think some of our fellow Goodreads participants need to chill out and THINK for a second before writing a review. Some of the reviews were scathing, characterizing the book as worthless, historically inaccurate or incomplete and so on ad nauseum. First of all, this is a coffe table book for God's sake. If you want the detailed, complete story find one of the many good volumes that has been ...more
Doug Mcnair
Dec 07, 2012 Doug Mcnair rated it did not like it
Shelves: american-history
This is a terrible book. The pictures are nice, but the text is disjointed and ungrammatical, and it's obvious that no editor or proofreader ever got anywhere near it. Chapters are thrown together willy nilly, with succeeding paragraphs having nothing to do with each other. The author repeats himself all over the place to no effect, and his few attempts to be clever are groan-worthy at best. At last, on page 106, he abdicates all responsibility for saying anything new or interesting about ...more
Nov 10, 2012 Marcel rated it did not like it
One of my favorite westerns was Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. While I experienced this book in audio format, it was just a wonderful saga of the old West and as I recall McMurtry won a Pulitzer prize for the effort. It was with these thoughts in mind that this week with great anticipation I purchased a copy of "Custer" by Larry McMurtry. I made a mistake.

I want to provide a full paragraph quote from "Custer". This is the last paragraph in Chapter Four.

"Which man had the sadder lot is not easy
Mark Mitten
Jun 06, 2013 Mark Mitten rated it liked it
Shelves: western
The value here is in the photos & art. There is a lot of that, all apropos, regarding the eponymous figurehead he's expounding on. Although "expounding" may not be the right word...this is a "short life", or an abbreviated bio--as opposed to the thick & thorough juggernaut tomes of TMI which larger-than-life real-world characters often attract. In this case, it was more about chiming in. McMurtry, an author whose career may be arcing to a close, given his age and voluminous output, and ...more
Apr 23, 2013 Louise rated it really liked it
It was good to have so many great photos all in one place. I particularly liked those of the wagon train on p 89, those of Custer and his wife Libby pp. 78-83, Custer in his study p. 88 and the many photos and paintings of the Indians and their leaders. The final photos of and about Wild Bill Cody seem to be an afterthought.

I don’t read many coffee table books (not many people do), or pick them up (which many people do), but this one caught my eye. I wondered what Larry McMurtry’s take on Custer
Jul 31, 2012 Beckie rated it really liked it
Did you watch the movie "Night at the Museum 2" and think they were exaggerating the Custer part to be funny? After reading Larry McMurtry's Custer on adobe reader, I have to say, I kept thinking of that movie the entire time. McMurtry is a wonderful writer. He is colorful, not-too-detailed, and he is funny. Who knew history good be so amusing? And remember, I am talking about a slaughter, so that says alot.

McMurty starts at the beginning of Custer's career and works his way to the end, even pa
Bill Holmes
Dec 28, 2012 Bill Holmes rated it liked it
"Custer" is a well-illustrated and very brief "life and times" of General George Armstrong Custer, written by Larry McMurtry of "Lonesome Dove" fame. It's interesting in spots and engaging in its own way, but it rambles with a vengeance. The narrative wanders all over the 19th Century American West, touching on some aspect of Custer's life, then digressing to a quick and inconclusive "parallel life" of John C. Fremont, then a brief excursion into Custer's marriage to his wife, Libby, then to the ...more
Gary Anderson
Nov 13, 2014 Gary Anderson rated it it was amazing
In the years after the Civil War my great-great-grandfather, a Union soldier, went AWOL from the Army in Kansas. An old letter from his daughter says that he was having trouble with a superior officer, and one of them was going to kill the other unless my great-great-grandfather took off. General George A. Custer was in Kansas at the same time, and I’ve always wondered if maybe he was the superior officer mentioned in the letter. I can easily believe that an ancestor of mine could become ...more
Angela Gaskell
I didn't know how to rate this book because it's the first book on Custer that I've ever read. I liked the historical notes and swift story-telling that unfolds. I little jumpy - here and there about people and places. Causes a lapse in some of the time and events, but overall, a great story of the West. The book was given to my by my father-in-law, Mac. He is a Vietnam veteran and absolutely loves Custer. He has the Last Stand poster in his office at well as Custer's famous portrait in hat. I ...more
Lorin Cary
Dec 13, 2012 Lorin Cary rated it it was ok
Larry McMurtry’s Custer includes lots of graphics, and that’s good. The text itself is choppy, consisting of short chapters sometimes chronological and sometimes not. The effect is to make the read uneven, as if the text had been put together by someone with ADD. It’s clear from the outset that McMurtry does not like Custer. Just about everything negative that could be said about the guy is included. The author does make some good points along the way. The 1876 debacle at the Little Big Horn ...more
Mar 11, 2014 Matt rated it it was ok
Shelves: the-west
This book was shockingly disappointing--truly bad, to the point where it helps me better appreciate other books. But first, a few positives: I listened to this on audiobook, and the chapters are very short, which made for easy listening. Also, the reader was very good. Second, the printed volume (I checked that out from my library as well) contained a lot of interesting pictures and paintings--well worth perusing but not owning.

What made this book so bad was its simplistic and roundabout analysi
Jun 18, 2014 Randy rated it really liked it
As Mr. McMurtry terms it, it is a "short read" on Custer. It is enough to "wet the appetite" without boring. It made me want to get into some of the other books recommended, although I think I've got enough on Custer for now. I just appreciate the glimpse into this time in history. McMurtry makes the history interested in a very familiar style and certainly doesn't glamorize General Custer. I recommend this book especially since you will invest very little time. The audio version is very easy to ...more
Jeff Currie
Dec 15, 2012 Jeff Currie rated it it was ok
Not great - though an easy run through of Custer's personal career set against the bigger historical events and trends from the Civil War through western migration and development of railroad and gold rush in Black Hills. As others have noted, it is so easy to find detail errors that almost nothing in this book can be counted on 100%. Lots of personal impressions from McMurtry and lots of filler too. It's pretty much a Custer picture book.
Marc Brackett
Dec 02, 2012 Marc Brackett rated it did not like it
If you want a coffee table book this would work as long as no one opens it. Nothing new, large print, and a lot of pictures.
Dec 31, 2012 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pictures were great. Writing was sub-sophomoric and confused. Stick to fiction, Larry.
Ethan Harris
Aug 31, 2012 Ethan Harris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Custer, by Larry McMurtry, promises to bring the complexity of George Armstrong Custer to life by illuminating his difficult marriage and his glory-seeking in an assessment of Custer’s fame and the power of his personality while redefining the common understanding of the American West. This title is published by Simon & Schuster, ISBN: 978-1-4516-2622-3 as an ebook.

The author begins by explaining that his work will cut through much of the irrelevant guesswork that is common in most of the wr
Allan Pratt
Oct 16, 2015 Allan Pratt rated it did not like it
The alleged Indian fighter Custer may not have been scalped but I feel I was after stumbling and staggering through the pages of Larry McMurtry’s meagre biography of the controversial seventh cavalry commander. Furthermore, I came to realize that wasn’t the only wound I suffered in the process: I noticed a big hole in my wallet too. McMurtry’s “Custer” is awful.

Like Custer, I never saw this coming. And why would I? Who could possibly have thought that McMurtry, the doyen of writers on the
Dec 19, 2013 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have enjoyed Larry McMurtry's fiction and I admired his biography of Crazy Horse for Penguin Lives so I was drawn to this lavishly illustrated account of Custer's life and his "last stand." McMurtry has considered George Armstrong Custer the "child man" for many years. He has read all of the good biographies and accounts of Custer and he is well informed. Obiviously McMurtry did not set out to duplicate the work of Custer scholars and biograhpers. This is a very wandering, personal account, ...more
Sep 02, 2014 Justinbwood rated it did not like it
Very poorly edited rambling mess. The claim is that this is a short biography, but the reader gains nothing from it. It is written in a folksy, old person reminiscing style and suffers from all the negatives of that experience. Contradictory, failing to be concise, omitting information and getting things plain wrong.

Mistakes abound, both factual and in the grammar such that it appears the book was not even proofread. Seems like a very clear attempt to cash in on Custer. I however, am totally ove
Les Gehman
The only reason this book is getting two stars instead of one, is that most of the illustrations are excellent. In particular, the two stereo photos on pages 30-31 and 142 are outstanding. However, the stereo pair on pages 30-31 is not labeled as a 3D photo (view it with crossed-eyes) and most people probably think that the publisher mistakenly place the same photo on the two pages. Also, the illustrations really need more description than just their titles. It would be nice to know who painted ...more
Jan 29, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The pictures are fantastic. The format is more of a picture book than a book you pick up to read from cover to cover. I enjoyed it because I'm a fan of Custer's as well as the period in the West. We seem, in general, to know so very little of this era and the region. If you are interested in the development of America then you have to learn about the Wild West. It was wild, it certainly wasn't always fair and it was very violent.

Naturally, the Indians took the brunt of the cruelty so freely disp
Ó Ruairc
Jun 17, 2016 Ó Ruairc rated it did not like it
Shelves: gac-collection
I have read many, many books about George A. Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn and McMurtry's book is, without a doubt, the worst ever written. Most biographers give a well-rounded portrait of Custer, but McMurtry's biography is all one-sided. In fact, the one-sidedness of the book makes it almost fictional; that, and the numerous historical errors. Just as an example, at one point McMurtry suggests that Custer might have been drunk at the Little Bighorn. Not Major Reno, mind you; but ...more
Feb 25, 2013 Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books in childhood, one that I reread and reread was Comanche, about the Army horse, the only Army survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. And as a native Kansan, Custer has long been part of the fascination. McMurtry does his usual excellent job laying out the facts, circling back through the story, adding layer after layer, to provide a complete picture of the battle and its aftermath. Fascinating stuff about the difficulties translating between the Indian and White ...more
Sep 28, 2013 Sheri rated it it was ok
I should preface this by saying that I've read many books about Custer, and about the battle at the Little Big Horn. McMurtry mentions the best of them, praising Evan Connell's book as being probably the very best (and Connell's book, which I have read, is outstanding). But this work by McMurtry (who positions himself as a Custer nut who's read 200+ works about the man and the battle at the Little Big Horn) is not worth picking up. It reads as if he dictated it while looking at the photos, ...more
Frank Richardson
May 31, 2013 Frank Richardson rated it really liked it
Ya know sometimes you can't beat the old masters. In this book, highlighted by numerous photos and beautiful paintings, Larry Mcmurtry takes us through Custer's background right up to his bad day at the Little Bighorn. The book is well written and written in a highly readable style so you can read it quickly and enjoy it as I did. McMurtry on several occasions refers to 4 other books about Custer and he says if you read these 4 books you will probably know all you need to about Custer unless, of ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Custer by Larry McMurtry 1 3 Dec 09, 2012 04:21AM  
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Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays.

Among many other accolades he was the co-winner of an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain in 2006.

Larry McMurty was born in Wichita Falls Texas in 1936. His first published book Horseman, Pass By was
More about Larry McMurtry...

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