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Crazy Horse and Custer
Stephen E. Ambrose
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Crazy Horse and Custer

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  3,930 Ratings  ·  233 Reviews
From bestselling historian Stephen E. Ambrose, a dual biography of two great nineteenth century warriors, General Custer and Crazy Horse, culminating in the Battle of Little Bighorn.
Paperback, 527 pages
Published July 9th 2009 (first published 1975)
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Joshua Polk Other than some mild language and depictions of 19th century battles, I don't know of anything to be worried about. No sexual themes, strong language,…moreOther than some mild language and depictions of 19th century battles, I don't know of anything to be worried about. No sexual themes, strong language, or gratuitous descriptions of violence are in the book. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Oct 01, 2009 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Custer and his immediate antecedents were consummate crackers. Jacksonian Democrats, American expansionists spoiling for a war, any war. Settled long enough and far enough East to entertain romantic, Fenimore Cooper-ish images of Noble Red Men, but made impatient by the independence of the tribes that still existed, on the land still to be taken by whites. Northerners, and loyal Unionists when the time for fighting came, though untroubled by slavery while it existed, and absolutely opposed to bl ...more
Oct 03, 2010 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chief Crazy Horse gave native Americans one of its few moments of triumph in its struggle with the white settlers, who in the mid-19th century moved across the country, shot the buffalo, and built a railroad which would make the Western tide ever more inexorable. “Custer’s last stand” achieved mythic proportions, and it firmed up US resolve to finish the Indian problem once and for all. Within a few years, the reservation system was firmly in place.

I personally don’t usually like reading descrip
Apr 21, 2011 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. History has gotten so much better since I was in Junior High...

Immensely readable, Ambrose has written a wonderful depiction of the times based on the conflict between two immense, American heroes. He paints a vivid picture of their up-bringing, formative years and early careers that eventually and inevitably led to their day at the Little Bighorn. This history is fair to both: elegant and moving. We come to know and perhaps love both protagonists, and the tragedy of Crazy Horse's death is
Aug 05, 2011 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Ambrose, what a shame that he's gone. After a slow start (read a bit like a PhD dissertation but I wouldn't want anyone comparing mine) this was really fun. Like a lot of folks I had the impression that Custer was a buffoon. To the contrary he was a leader, motivator and while flamboyant at times not at all like what you've casually been exposed to. Much has been said of his last place finish in his West Point class. This was by design, he just did what he had to, but was surprisingly cap ...more
B.T. Clifford
Aug 20, 2013 B.T. Clifford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Ambrose is one of the most readable historians I've ever come across, and Crazy Horse and Custer is a prime example of why. He gives these men life on the page. Rather than focusing on their battle at Little Big Horn and propagating the prevalent misconceptions of the men, he reaches back into their childhoods and beyond, into the cultures that created the men. He picks no favorites and presents the stories of both in great detail.
I particularly appreciated the work on Custer. This was t
T.E. George
Oct 20, 2014 T.E. George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a child of the 50s, I grew up with the romanticized Hollywood version of Cowboys and Indians. My image of both was Randolph Scott, Fess Parker and more often than not some nameless actor who was less Native American than I am. Because my great-grand mother was half Cherokee, I proudly bragged to friends about the legends that accompanied her memory while arguing fiercely for my right to be one of the cowboys instead of a “dastardly Indian”.

Stephen Ambrose illustrates this dichotomy of my Amer
Jim Cunningham
Dec 08, 2016 Jim Cunningham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent work by Stephen Ambrose, comparing the lives of two of the most iconic figures in the 18th century conflict between the advancing white settlers, the army, and the Indians who lived on the Great Plains.
J Cravens
Sep 10, 2009 J Cravens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs, anyone who wants to understand that people haven't really changed
Shelves: history
I loved this book because of its focus not only on historical events, but personalities and cultures. Ambrose looks at the European American culture of the time with the same anthropological eye that he does Oglala (sioux) and other Indian culture of the time, with lots of commentary, but no judgment, on either. He reserves his judgment for the military and political decisions by the men he profiles in the book (not just Crazy Horse and Custer) and he can be downright brutal (and right on!) in s ...more
Jan 03, 2012 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be excellent. Ambrose goes into good detail on how the Sioux Indians lived their organizational structure and their customs. I highly recommend this book if you have any interest in the American Indian. Other reviewers thought Ambrose was biased towards the U.S. Army I really didn't feel that way. The book does discuss the treatment of the Sioux by the Indian Agents and the Army. It seemed each had a different idea of what was the correct approach controlling Indian populati ...more
I low-rated this book for its careless use of such highly charged words as "savages" and "civilized" and such statements as this: "The United States did not follow a policy of genocide; it did try to find a just solution to the Indian problem."

Whether from policy or from the unanticipated sum of myriad government-aided and -abetted acts of soldiers and settlers, the result was genocide. Nor was "a just solution to the Indian problem" ever a major concern of U.S. Indian policy. After all, the "In
Nancy Mulder
Oct 16, 2016 Nancy Mulder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
After having traveled across South Dakota and visited Deadwood and the Black Hills in September, I'm obsessed with the West.
Apr 25, 2012 Duane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On July 4th 1876, the United States of America was celebrating its centenary while at the heights of influence and power. In the first one hundred years since its independence, the United States had fended off two British invasions, survived a brutal Civil War, and joined both its oceanic shorelines with a transcontinental railroad. Settlers were pushing westward and taming the vast wilderness in increasing numbers. Such expansion and the fulfillment of America’s Manifest Destiny seemed almost u ...more
Dec 07, 2016 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent introduction to both Crazy Horse and well as the epic battle that made them both famous/infamous. As usual, Ambrose does a good job in trying to be objective--especially in dealing with polarizing individuals and topics like US/Native American relations and the myths and reputation surrounding Custer & Crazy Horse. Robert Utley and Allan Eckert are two other historians which to my mind give good and accurate historical descriptions of subject matter which has become ...more
Sandi Miller
Feb 23, 2017 Sandi Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors is an excellent dual biography of two men who would one day fight each other on the battlefield. One fought for freedom for his people, the other for American Expansion but also to feed his own ego and possibly to increase his chances of becoming a U.S. President. The author, military historian Stephen E. Ambrose, was meticulous in his research. To lay the groundwork for this book, he, his wife and five children and two dogs tra ...more
Nicola Pierce
Dec 31, 2016 Nicola Pierce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book: the premise, the research, the writing, the tone, the opinions ... feck, even the line drawings that signalled the new chapters ... I loved it all, every little bit of it. It's my first time to read Stephen E. Ambrose and I'm certainly going to be reading more of him. And I must admit to feeling a mite bit kinder towards Custer than I did before I read it. Now I'm not saying that I liked him any more only that Ambrose help me understand his situation better than of ...more
Charles T Elston
History at it's Best

Stephen appears to have done his research. Everything I have read about Custer points to an egotist, bent on fame and glory regardless the price, including the lives of his men. In contrast Crazy Horse did not seek fame or glory but merely wanted to live as the Native Americans had always lived. Our "Manifest Destiny" caused the demise of a great many Native Americans, which mirrored genocide, albeit on a smaller scale, than we witnessed during WWII. This true history needs t
Feb 18, 2017 Miles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Information good: personal beliefs/bias not so much.

This book was well researched which gives it the feel of an easy, smooth, general read. You will find it interesting, informative, and (if you're like me) a real page turner. I enjoy reading non-fiction of this nature, so the read may be different for you, but you will learn much about these two men. The only complaint(s) I have are: I feel that Ambrose leans towards Custer on the bias scale sometimes a little other times more so, and he doesn
Dec 31, 2016 Dennis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not without some revisionism but still a very good read by a great popular historian. The parallel element between Custer and Crazy Horse gives much more breadth and scope to the overall history of the tragedies of the American West.
It's the 2nd of my trilogy of Custer histories/bios that I'm reading in 2016. Looks like the 3rd book will be finished in 2017 but I'm less than 100 pgs from the end in that one as well.

I've learned much from all 3 and as usual, human beings are much more complex tha
Dec 08, 2016 Dan6838 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always love Stephen Ambrose' work, and this is no exception. I think was most of us knew about Custer, Crazy Horse, and the Little Big Horn was more folklore shaped by TV and the Movies than by historical fact. The real story presents a fascinating story of two men involved in the radical evolution of the Great Plains.
Rob Sobieck
Mar 09, 2017 Rob Sobieck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book rates as one of te best books i ever read. great history surrounds america. I love history its my favorite subject. heartbreaking how our government handeled the indians. Also terrible how crazy horse met his fate. people were so scared of him, that tells you one thing: He was a great warrior. Imagine if he and geronimo and tecumseh were of the same tribe?
Dec 12, 2016 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit of a history slog, although it picked up in the latter half. Nevertheless, an important read to understand the history of Native American tribes in the northern plains and the significance of Crazy Horse.
Tom Claycomb
Oct 22, 2016 Tom Claycomb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great perspective

I previously knew these two warriors fought each other but I didn't realize the parallels between them. Fascinating book. Excellent writing.
Chip Cocks
Feb 20, 2017 Chip Cocks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good book from Ambrose.
Jon Vanderheyden
Nov 23, 2016 Jon Vanderheyden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating history of two very interesting players in the conquering of the west saga.
Gregg Bell
Apr 13, 2014 Gregg Bell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crazy Horse and Custer is a story of opposites and similarities. Two men from wildly different worlds collide as history forces them together. The book is fascinating as it explores the men's lives individually, and then, as they clash, collectively. The differences in the men's lives are apparent.

Crazy Horse is a man living free and easy, close to the earth, nature-smart, and satisfied with the ordinary life of a young brave. Custer, on the other hand, a West Point grad, is a man of military d
Barbara Stoner
Aug 13, 2013 Barbara Stoner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

There's a row of books stashed on a bottom shelf of one of my bookcases where I keep books I intend to read but haven't as yet. I don't even remember where I got some of them, only that when I see them I think, oh, yeah. Wanna read that one some day.

One such is Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors , by Stephen Ambrose, originally published in 1975. Finished it last week. In his introduction, Ambrose wrote,

[Crazy Horse and Custer] met only twice, on the battlefield
Peter Hutt Sierra
Dec 30, 2016 Peter Hutt Sierra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally have time to read again!

Stephen Ambrose is as always a competent historian. His double biography of George Armstrong Custer and Crazy Horse is thorough, thoughtful, and entertaining. It paints an clear and picture of one of the most fascinating and shameful parts of our history. I came away from this book with a clear understanding of the Indian wars on the northern plains as well as a good sense of who these two men were.

That being said I'm not sure that Crazy Horse and Custer were t
Patricia Wilson
Dec 28, 2016 Patricia Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A believable account of two historic figures.

This is the most concise and interesting volumes of history I've had the privilege and joy of reading. The reader will find this tome hard to put down. I have only praise for the author and his endeavor to present true history. We all know that history books are written by the winners. This author gives facts and allows his readers to draw their own conclusions.
Five stars is not enough for this book.
As always, happy reading.
Chris Russell
Feb 27, 2017 Chris Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Custer and Crazy Horse

Stephen Ambrose wrote a fascinating fascinating book about Custer and Crazy Horse that I could not put down. It is well written and kept my interest from start to finish.
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Stephen Edward Ambrose was an American historian and biographer of U.S. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon. He received his Ph.D. in 1960 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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“All that existed was precious in Crazy Horse’s religion—whatever a man did or thought was good, was wakan, so long as he obeyed his own inner voice, for that too was wakan.” 3 likes
“Burial practices illustrated the two men’s different outlooks. Custer believed a body should be buried in a long-lasting metal casket, thus removing the body from the ecological system by preventing bacteria from breaking it down and feeding it back into the soil. Crazy Horse believed in wrapping a body inside a buffalo robe and placing it on a scaffold on an open hillside, where the elements could break it down in a year or two. It would then come up again as buffalo grass, to be eaten by the buffalo, which would then be eaten by the Sioux, completing the circle.” 2 likes
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