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Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn 1st Edition

172 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0065023633
ISBN-10: 0065023633
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Editorial Reviews Review

Part anthropological study of Plains Indian life, part military history, and part character study of the principal actors in the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Evan Connell's justly well-known book presents a balanced and critical account of George Armstrong Custer's career. ("Why he was esteemed as an Indian fighter is puzzling," Connell remarks. "None of his frontier campaigns demonstrated particular skill or insight.") Connell also examines the lives of Captain Frederick Benteen and Major Marcus Reno, the admirable General George Crook, and their foes Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Rain in the Face. Reno comes out worst: he held the dubious distinction of having the worst record before or since in the history of the United States Military Academy, and he was dishonorably discharged for incompetence after failing to get his column into battle in time to save Custer's command. Connell's thrilling story has all the inevitability of a tragedy, but there are no tragic heroes to which to point. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Impressive in its massive presentation of information . . . Son of the Morning Star makes good reading--its prose is elegant, its tone the voice of dry wit, its meandering narrative skillfully crafted. Mr. Connell is above all a storyteller, and the story he tells is vastly more complicated than who did what to whom on June 25, 1876."--Page Stenger, The New York Times Book Review

"Son of the Morning Star leaves the reader astonished."--The Washington Post

"A scintillating book, thoroughly researched and brilliantly constructed."--The Wall Street Journal
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 441 pages
  • Publisher: Addison Wesley Publishing Company; 1 edition (June 23, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0065023633
  • ISBN-13: 978-0065023633
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

131 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on July 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Evan Connell has written a powerful book. It is a balanced presentation of George Armstrong Custer, the post-Civil War Indian Wars, Plains Indians and the myth of the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
Facts abound. I started this book thinking it would primarily focus on Gen. Custer and the fight. While those topics are the framework of the book, Connell spends quite a bit of time exploring various indian chiefs, indian practices, previous conflicts and the conditions that produced one of our country's most celebrated battles. First person quotes are abundent and the author usually produces two or more sides to every episode. These explorations underscore how difficult getting at a true history is, particulary when pride and ego rest on a particular telling of an event. He has done very good research.
This is a brutal book. American and indian savagry are laid bare. Warfare and existence on the frontier were not pretty. The "rules" of war were abandoned by both sides with regard to the taking of prisoners or the frequent butchering of women and children along with those unlucky enough to be in the path of maurading soldiers or indian bands. Connell's book leaves no doubt that American notions of racial superiority, mainfest destiny and economics created the situation in which the indians would fight in the extreme to protect their lands from white encroachment. However, the author also underscores that most of the indian tribes were brutal and ruthless when attacking other tribes, lone indians and in their own rituals and customs.
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Pete Agren on November 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Connell has one of the most unorthodox writing styles of any history writer I've read but somehow it works brilliantly. A proper chronological order is completely disregarded and Connell jumps all over the place, yet somehow is able to keep the reader right along with him. It reminds me of listening to an old Vet tell war stories and finish half a story and skip to something completely unrelated again and again and again until you can't remember where he originally started the conversation from. Yet, just like listening to the proud hero tell his tales, it is completely fascinating and you will hang on every word.
A prime example of this is within the first ten pages of the book, Connell is writing about President Hayes' Court of Inquiry, three years AFTER the battle.
Another thing which Connell does masterfully is tell BOTH sides of the tale. The Dakota and 7th Cavalry are given equal weight throughout the book and the author pours pertinent information as well as trivial but entertaining facts at the reader. And along with giving biographies on Reno and Benteen, the reader learns just as much background information on Gall, Crazy Horse and Two Moon.
About the only person I suggest shy away from this book is a college student cramming for a paper because there's no way they'd be able to find the needed info with Connell's writing style. However, if they don't procrastinate and began reading at the beginning of the semester, I promise you won't find another book with more info on the subject.
If you do read "Son of the Morning Star," be prepared to take a trip out to the high plains of Montana to see the battlefield. Connell's book instilled a 'must-see' desire into me on having to see the Bighorn for myself and I plan to go next summer. See you there!
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Morgan Sjoberg on August 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have read many books about Custer, Little Big Horn and the plains indian wars, but this one is truly the very best of the lot. Connell has given us an exellent biography of Custer, but we also get to know such men as Major Reno and Captain Benteen. Indians such as Sitting Bull, Gall and Crazy Horse are also prominently featured in this treasure of a book. This is so much more than a book about Custer and his last stand at Little Big Horn river in 1876. It's a book about the whole drama, that is the conquering of the west. Also, the photo section is exellent and the bibliography is unparalelled. Two very good maps helps the reader follow the movements in the 1876 indian campaign. If You're gonna buy just one book about the American west, please choose "Son Of The Morning Star". It's history, for sure, but it's not boring. It's also a source book in the best sence of the word, not to mention a literary masterpiece. Connell is a novelist, and it shows in his quick and precise eye for charaters in the play and their often peculiar behavior and actions. The heroes and/or villains is only so human in this highly entertaining book that leaves the reader wanting more. I have so far never read a better book, fact or fiction. Why don't You read it too?
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
Like many historic events of the nineteenth century--especially those of a tragic nature--the events that took place at The Little Bighorn were shrouded for decades in sensationalism to a greater or lesser degree. Misconceptions and inaccuracies have abounded as the story of Custer and his ill-fated troops has been told and retold in print and on the big screen.
I was looking for a book that would go a long way in providing an objective view of the events surrounding The Battle of the Little Bighorn and found such a book in Son of the Morning Star.
Evan S. Connell does a masterful job of telling the story. He provides excellent background history and tells how information, or the lack thereof, available to Custer at the time may have contributed to his ultimate demise. Arrogance and racism have long been attributed to Custer's disastrous campaign but Connell helps paint probably the most accurate and objective portrait of the colorful general to date. Custer was arrogant but Connell shows that there was much more to the story.
A great read!
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