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Little Big Man: A Novel Paperback – September 1, 1989

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Editorial Reviews


“An epic such as Mark Twain might have given us.”—Henry Miller

“The very best novel ever about the American West.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Spellbinding . . . [Crabb] surely must be one of the most delightfully absurd fictional fossils ever unearthed.”—Time

“Superb . . . Berger’s success in capturing the points of view and emotional atmosphere of a vanished era is uncanny. His skill in characterization, his narrative power and his somewhat cynical humor are all outstanding.”—The New York Times

About the Author

Thomas Berger, whom the Times Literary Supplement has called “one of the century’s most important writers,” is the author of twenty-three novels. Little Big Man has been published in more than fifty editions throughout the world.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; 25 Anv edition (September 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385298293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385298292
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Thomas Berger (1924-2014) was the bestselling author of novels, short stories, and plays, including the Old West classic Little Big Man (1964) and the Pulitzer Prize-nominated novel The Feud (1983). Berger was born in Cincinnati and served with a medical unit in World War II, an experience that provided the inspiration for his first novel, Crazy in Berlin (1958). Berger found widespread success with his third novel, Little Big Man, and has maintained a steady output of critically acclaimed work since then. Several of his novels have been adapted into film, including a celebrated version of Little Big Man. His short fiction has appeared in Harper's Magazine, Esquire, and Playboy.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Jack Purcell on January 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
When Little Big Man was first published during the 1960s it was the culmination and a spin-off from a series of events. Old men in geriatric homes throughout the US were claiming to be the 'real' John Wilkes Booth, Jesse James, Billy the Kid and other notorious figures in the history of the American west. Berger created a spin-off character, Jack Crabbe, who claimed to be none of these, but managed to be present for a surprising number of pivotal events of the 19th Century. He also claimed to know many of the characters involved, including Sitting Bull, Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp and his brothers, Bat Masterson, George Armstrong Custer and others.

In addition to being a great read and informative piece of historical fiction, this novel became a model for the anti-hero of a number of other historical fiction series and works. The most notable of these is the George MacDonald Frazer, Flashman books.

Berger has done a signal job of turning over the rocks of history, finding twists and turns normally not part of the legends, and weaving them into a character and plot unsurpassed in American historical fiction.
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By J. Remington on January 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
Long before Micheal Blake's politically correct tome "Dances With Wolves" gave voice to other side of the American West, Thomas Berger wrote the expertly crafted, humourous, tragic and down right entertaining "Little Big Man". Written in 1965, when it was still fashionable to portray the Native American as a "in the way savage", Berger deftly blended the genres of tall tale and history in a manner that really has yet to be matched.
The character of Jack Crabb is cut of classic cloth. His story may very well be pure hogwash, but it is filled with touching humanity that underpins all the comedy. Berger portrays The Cheyenne people, or the "Human Beings" as possessing many of the same foibles and warts as their European counterparts. They are not painted as noble savages as in Blake's new agey work, but rather as complex characters deserving of respect and honor.
Berger's General Custer is a wry study of madness that somehow avoids cynicism. One of this book's many virtues lies in its ability to lend the Western myth a critical eye, while avoiding the nihilistic pessimism that frequently goes hand in hand with such work (something the film version couldn't avoid).
"Little Big Man" is a must read to all who love good yarns spun with a big heart and a bigger mind.
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Deborah L. Cohen on February 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Like many others who reviewed this book, I first read it (in high school) after seeing the movie. The movie was a real eye opener for me, for the first time giving me a sense of Indians as real people, struggling to stay themselves and maintain their way of life against the relentless & overwhelming campaign of conquest, destruction & genocide by Whites. It inspired me to read this book, which I found to far surpass in richness, character development and detail what I had thought to be an excellent movie. After reading it the first time I think I read it annually for the next ten years, and several more times since. Each time it has moved me to laughter, anger, and without fail tears at the end. I can't begin to do it justice, even trying gives me "...a pain between my ears..." and some of the reader reviews have already done a fine job of describing it. There's just a couple of points I'd like to add. Jack Crabb has always reminded me Huckleberry Finn. Through close personnal experience, each character evolves in his understanding and appreciation of a race he'd been raised to believe inherently inferior to whites (Jack Crabb's rearing by Indians does not begin till his tenth year). Niether Jack nor Huck are saints who always "knew better". Along the way, both struggle with feelings of doubt, guilt & shame when they find themslves favoring the Indians or Blacks over Whites. Both think badly of themselves for doing so. Like Mark Twain, Thomas Berger puts us into the head of a White male who struggles with the conflict between his own experience and the stereotypes he'd been raised on and which shape the White society of his time. Both books are marvels of insight into human nature.Read more ›
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By BOB on May 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
I just re-read this for the first time in forty years, when I read it shortly after seeing the movie. I had always rated it among my favorite novels and my estimation has not diminished. It is like a lost Mark Twain novel, in many respects surpassing most of Twain's own novels. It is a major accomplishment and the forerunner to Zelig and Forrest Gump and any other 'little nobody just happens to be present at many major world events' stories that have come down the pike subsequently. Jack Crabb is a quintessential American Everyman...literally, as he lives alternately in the white world as well as the Indians'. He can literally see multiple points of view from a vantage point that few, if any, could ever acquire. This is the tall tale to tower over all other tall tales, one of the ultimate American epics. Ironically, this novel, like Jack Crabb himself, seems to be inexplicably neglected in any discussion of major American novels, to which select company this certainly belongs.
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