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A Terrible Glory
Custer and the Little Bighorn: The Last Great Battle of the American West
This book will remain the last word on Custer's Last Stand. The details amassed by the author astound me. Especially impressive are his biographies of the Sioux and Cheyenne leaders.
It is not a book for the squeamish. There are graphic accounts of mutilations of the dead Seventh Cavalrymen's corpses by women and old men from the Indian village.
Lawyers will likely focus their interest on chapter 20, which extensively reports the perjurious Court of Inquiry concerning Major Reno's conduct. I wrote about Reno in my February 2001 column. Author Donovan has convinced me that I was too kind to this officer.
Reno was drunk and incompetent throughout the battle. Most damning was his proposition to Captain Benteen that they retreat and abandon the wounded. The latter refused. Had it not been for the captain's leadership in the absence of the major's, there would have been no cavalry survivors.
Finally, I recommend the unabridged compact disc version from Tantor Audio. James Boles is an excellent reader.
DONALD F. PAINE is of counsel to the Knoxville firm of Paine, Tarwater, Bickers, and Tillman LLP.