Monday, September 9, 2013

Glorious War: The Civil War Adventures of George Armstrong CusterbyThom Hatch

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: September 5, 2013

The thrilling and definitive biography of George Armstrong Custer's incredible Civil War years and the heroics that made him a legend. From George Armstrong Custer’s graduation from West Point to the daring cavalry charges that propelled him to the rank of General and national fame to a romance with his wife Libbie Bacon that is unmatched in American history, Custer’s exploits are the stuff of legend. Not only did he capture the first Confederate battle flag of the war and receive General Lee’s messenger who had come to begin negotiations for surrender at Appomattox, but he was a key part of nearly every major engagement in the east, always leading his men from the front with a bravery seldom seen before or since. For decades, historians have looked at Custer strictly through the lens of his death on the frontier, casting him as a failure. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While some may say that the events that took place at the Little Big Horn are illustrative of America’s bloody expansion, they have unjustly eclipsed Custer’s otherwise extraordinarily life and outstanding career and fall far short of encompassing his incredible service to his country. This biography of thundering cannons, pounding hooves and stunning successes tells the full and true story of one of history’s most dynamic and misunderstood figures. With Glorious War, award-winning historian Thom Hatch reexamines Custer’s early career to rebalance the scales and show why his epic fall could never have happened without the spectacular rise that made him a legend.

════════════════════════════ ❧  ════════════════════════════

Virginia, 1862 Custer poses with a former classmate, 
Confederate POW Lt. James B. Washington.
One has only to watch Bill Hader's performance as General George Armstrong Custer to understand the stereotypic legacy that dogs the memory of this career army officer and cavalry commander, but is that legacy deserved? Author Thom Hatch doesn't think so and makes a compelling argument the that affect in his latest release, Glorious War. 

Though listed in the nation's history books for his disastrous defeat at Little Big Horn, his career with the Union Army was marked almost exclusively by victory. Graduating West Point in June 1861 his first assignment found him on the field at the first battle of Bull Run (or first Manassas). Time and again he proved himself a capable if unconventional commander who kept his head under pressure and held the admiration and trust of his men. By the time he collected the first flag of truce from the Confederates at Appomattox, the exploits that had propelled him up the ranks had also earned him a fair amount of celebrity.

Hatch's carefully researched civil war biography chronicles Custer's early life and military career, shedding light on man Custer was both on and off the battlefield. What is surprising though is how objective the author is despite his rather obvious agenda. Rather than ignore his failings (real or imagined) Hatch answers each accusation fairly, allowing his readers to come to their own conclusions about his subject.

All told, a well-written and thought-provoking mini biography of a controversial American legend. 

════════════════════════════ ❧  ════════════════════════════
"He is the same careless fellow that he was. He is the most romantic of men and delights in something odd. Last summer when he was one the Peninsula, he vowed that he would not cut his hair until he entered Richmond. He kept his vow and now his hair is about a foot long and hangs over his shoulders in curls just like a girl. But he is a gallant soldier, a whole-souled generous friend, and a might good fellow..."
════════════════════════════ ❧  ════════════════════════════

No comments: