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A Terrible Glory

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,544 Ratings  ·  170 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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Matt
Aug 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
'Aussie Rick'
Excellent and detailed account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn - the book to read if you want to know what really happened.
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
Socraticgadfly
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
...more
Bill Brewer
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Kelley
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Keith Akers
Jul 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Miles Mathews
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
John-Michael
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
...more
Kevin
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
Shane
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A perfect example of why I love a good history book. Before reading this, I had only a glimmer of an idea of what happened at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, complete with the customary demonization of General Custer that everyone seems to get from their high school teachers. James Donovan has clearly done an exhaustive amount of research to craft what is an engaging work that covers the battle, its antecedents, and its aftermath. Better than just a dull retelling of the details of this histor ...more
Michael Stapleton
granular-level examination of the day of battle. Not hagiographic. Perfectly attuned to the mistakes of a megalomaniac.
Don
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, war, biography
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
...more
Jim
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
...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
...more
Taylor
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-completed
I came into this topic with very little prior knowledge. James Donovan was able to tell this story with such vivid and engaging language that I felt like I'd been studying it for years.

I regularly read quite a lot of nonfiction and history of various parts of the world. I've typically focused a lot of interest in Europe - but after reading this, I have a new hunger to learn more about American history. The standard required learning in grade school never interested me the way this book did. I w
...more
Carlene Amaro
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read numerous accounts of the various battles of the U.S. war against the western native nations, I found that this account provided more detail from all sides of the conflict, yet, inevitably, left me confused. The author's exhaustive research, inclusion of accounts from natives, scouts, enlisted men, and letters, showed how impossible it is for anyone to assess performances during battle. This book did not appear to attempt to lay blame for the results of the Battle on the Little Big Ho ...more
Andy Dale
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a biography of General Custer who died fighting American Indians in the late 1800's in the american west. I didn't know that Custer was a successful soldier and general in the civil war before his work in the west and he had an impressive record there. This book also was about Custer's major's and captains and other officers below him. The middle 1/3 of the book concerned the attack on several thousand indians by custer and about 500 soldiers. Custer obviously overestimated his force, bu ...more
Ben Garrison
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Ted Behrens
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Darkside Johnny
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research, finished
It was a very thorough account of Custer's last battle, with quite a build up of Custer's character before his Last Stand, with a continuation about the battle and the other officers, after the battle.

I've read some other accounts of Custer's Last Stand, watched some documentaries, and James Donovan seems to have compiled all the existing information on Custer in this one book. Well written with an easy flow.
randy brich
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A LIFE WASTED

Custer's drive combined with underlings incompetence and Indians bravery in numbers caused the perfect storm. Read for enjoyment knowledge and truth.
Pete the Revolutionary
One of the best accounts of the battle of the Little Bighorn. I really enjoyed it.
Colton S.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I myself have found A Terrible Glory, by James Donovan, to be quite interesting. This novel goes deeper into the Battle of Little Bighorn, stating details that had become major deciders in the outcome of the battle. James Donovan also mentions the backgrounds of many of the officers that participated in the conflict, as well as the members of “Custer’s Family”. By reading this book, you shall obtain the knowledge of how grudges and things of the sort can and will lead to gruesome deaths at the
...more
David Vinther
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
A very good book. A tad dry in places early on, but really gets going the closer it gets to the events of Custer's Last Stand. I knew about the battle, of course, but really didn't know the details and particulars that led to the events, or what actually happened that day that caused Custer and his troops to be defeated so thoroughly. This book has a lot of detail and gives a nearly minute by minute accounting of what happened at Little Bighorn. If you like books about history, I recommend this ...more
Andrew Degruccio
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating history of General Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn. This detailed accounting helps to remove some of the myth associated with the man and the battle. As always the truth is much more complicated than the TV version, although truth can certainly be tainted by time. In general, I feel this book helps me to appreciate this era of American history with more accuracy.
Krista
Aug 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jay Kennedy
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book quite thorough, and enthralling . The descriptions of the events unfolding were much better than I had anticipated, and Donovan kept me hooked. In my opinion, a read that should be done in schools now.
Matt
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best Great Sioux War book I have read (3 in total). General chronological description of the F and I War and CW that leads you through the 1830s - 1870s. Book ends with mild description of Spanish American War. #read up my friends.
Jerry Smith
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, war, 2015-read
Custer is an interesting and highly polarizing figure in American history, it cannot be argued. This book is essentially two halves, covering his bio and those with whom he came into contact in the first part, followed by the battle itself and aftermath thereafter.

I enjoyed the first part more than I thought I would and the writing is good, although there are some chapters that seem to rely overly on the same words to describe specific situations, and in close order. Milieu for example. However
...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

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