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2.98 of 5 stars 2.98  ·  rating details  ·  351 ratings  ·  122 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 battle
Hardcover, 173 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Simon & Schuster
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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
Bill  Kerwin

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
Michael Custer
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 du ...more
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
Mark Mitten
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 s ...more
Doug Mcnair
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 Custer ...more
"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 clar ...more
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
Lorin Cary
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 “cl ...more
Bill Holmes
"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
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 h ...more
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
Gary Anderson
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 frustra ...more
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
Jeff Currie
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.
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
Marc Brackett
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.
Pictures were great. Writing was sub-sophomoric and confused. Stick to fiction, Larry.
David Wilkerson
A glorious literary career has come to this. Though it isn't a comeback as Larry has never stopped writing, Sugar Ray Leonard had more late career success. Somewhere around Dwayne's Depressed or the last of the BerryBender Chronicles, McMurtry ceased to be the writer he once was. There are some impressive pictures in this handsome volume, but the journalism is sloppy, unoriginal, and downright adolescent. I'm not entirely convinced he didn't find an intern who over-utilized wikipedia to produce ...more
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
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, of ...more
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 l ...more
Ethan Harris
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
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
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
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, illus ...more
The UPS driver delivered my copy of Custer today, Nov 6,2012. What a major disappointment. I expected a nice big, juicy book on the scope of Lonesome Dove and others. What I got was a poorly written, badly printed and cheaply bound coffee table book that I would be ashamed to put on any coffee table of mine. I bought the book on the strength of McMurtry's name and a review in U.S.A. Today. Both let me down.
Bill Shuey
McMurtry keeps this glimpse into the life of Colonel Custer brief, pointed, and informative with some obscure factoids and photos along the way. He doesn't get "out in the weeds" and chase rumors but rather stays on point.

If one is interested in the life and final engagement of Custer, this is the book to read on the subject -- short, concise, and informative.
Ronald Broun
This book has received some bad reviews over the author's style of writing, but based on the content of the book I thought it was excellent. Custer was not the hero that he is often portrayed by legends and movies. I think this book shows him warts and all. The book is not Custer bashing, just the truth behind the legend.
Book is wonderful physically and visually. Pages are thick & glossy, photos are terrifically rendered; text doesn't engage this reader. Only Mcmurtry completists (which i am) or Custer fans (which I'm not) would have reason to buy/read this book. Book serves as low key exclamation point on Mac's obsession with death. 3 stars because if book's production values otherwise I would give it 1 star.
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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 adapted into the film "Hud".

McMurty went on to publish many more novels, a number of which went on to become movies as well as a TV mini-series.
More about Larry McMurtry...
Lonesome Dove Terms of Endearment The Last Picture Show Streets of Laredo Comanche Moon

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