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I've read some reviews on "A Terrible Glory" that complain about it not offering anything new about this battle. Having read it twice I found it very good from the perspective of depth of research, use of primary sources, including results of the forensic analysis following the large fire in, I believe, the 1980s and combining all of the above to provide the reader with as complete a narrative as possible of this complex battle.
Donovan does a great job of putting the reader inside Custer's head, allowing one to wrestle with the available intelligence on the "enemy" the day before and the day of the battle, how Custer interpreted it, calling on past experience, the fact that the Indians "always chose to run rather than fight," not wanting to repeat his mistakes in how he executed the Washita battle in 1868 and in hind sight not listening to the pleas of the Crow scouts not to divide his force and so on.
Donovan also delves into the absolute dysfunction that existed in the Regiment at the time, the bitterness between Reno, Benteen and Custer, and the lack of combat readiness of the 7th prior to the campaign. This level of unpreparedness has been glossed over in the more romanticized versions of the battle.
Donovan identifies Custer's strengths and weakness and provides a balanced account of the man and his final battle.
What I failed to realize, but should have, was that after a point in the battle, everything that occurred to Custer's force on Last Stand Hill is conjecture from the 7th Cavalry perspective because none of his command survived. The only live accounts were from Indian interviews. Depending where an Indian was during the latter stage of the fight, a wide range of accounts came forth. Donovan, based on his exhaustive all source research, does a credible job of providing a very plausible version of Custer's last hours.
For military historians I recommend using, as an analytical tool, the battle field operating systems of Intelligence, maneuver, fire support, logistics and command and control. Think through these parameters as you study this complex campaign.
Heartily recommend this book. I have read many books on the subject. This is the first author to let the story tell itself, without setting an agenda either pro or anti Custer. Not only is this book thorough, it is also written in a style that is very easy reading. A must for anyone interested in this era of American history.
I have an extensive collection of books on Custer and the Little Bighorn battle, been out to the battlefield area twice and this book is one of the most exquisite, comprehensive and historically correct books ever written. It is easy to read, brings into account details and events that were taking place during Custer's life and while he was preparing for his expedition and as they happened along the way out to the Little Bighorn arena. The author skillfully weaves in other participant's personal accounts and memories to accurately convey this sad, but epic event in American history and the ultimate defeat and annihilation of Custer's forces by the largest ever assembled encampment of Native Americans on the North American continent. Once you begin this book it will be difficult to put it down as you will long and hunger for more to read!
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