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The Return of Little Big Man Hardcover – February, 1999


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Ace and Chance Jensen have a knack for taking risks--even if they have to blast their way out of trouble. Their skills are put to the test when two young ladies ask them to protect their struggling stagecoach line. The boys have to ask themselves: What would Smoke Jensen do? See more by William W. Johnstone and J.A. Johnstone

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jack Crabb, supposedly the only white man to survive Custer's Last Stand, first disclosed the brimful and dubious chronicle of his life in Thomas Berger's 1964 charmer, Little Big Man. There the 111-year-old, a shade of history who strutted unnoticed through the mythic West, recounted his acquaintances with notables such as George Custer and Wild Bill Hickok, as well as his shuttling between the worlds of whites and Indians. In The Return of Little Big Man, ostensibly a long-lost addendum to these memoirs, we get more of the tale--or more hot air, perhaps. "Just listen to what I tell you, and then check it against the facts if you can," our hero invites.

Return has much in common with its predecessor. Once again, Crabb seems to have known everyone and been nearly everywhere, and his many associates--both notorious and anonymous--reappear as if by miracle. Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Annie Oakley all check in; while Crabb himself wanders the globe as Buffalo Bill Cody's right-hand man, witnesses both Hickok's and Sitting Bull's murders, and crouches behind a wagon during the O.K. Corral shootout. Berger's Twain-esque ruminations lend an air of purposefulness to Crabb's meanderings, a sense that separation is merely provisional, that existence only appears haphazard.

Crabb, however, seems more than occasionally dispirited--friends pass, younger men ascend. Midway through, though, the book gets its real charge, as Crabb confronts a fading world and a future both bright and bewildering. Sustained by an enormous heart, an affinity for exaggeration, and a conscience both weary and sentimental, he acknowledges the best--and worst--in everyone he meets. It's a story you'd like to believe. --Ben Guterson

From Publishers Weekly

Thirty-five years after the hapless, endearing Jack Crabb narrated the early years of his life among the Cheyenne Indians and Wild West ruffians in Berger's Little Big Man the riotous epic continues. Picking up the story after Custer's Last Stand, Crabb (now an improbable 112 years old) is the only white survivor of the Little Big Horn and the only one equipped to straighten out the history books. Through coincidence, design or luck (not all of it good), Jack meets a passel of frontier notables and witnesses many famous events: Wild Bill Hickock's gunslinging stunt at the Deadwood saloon; savage Wyatt Earp's provocation of the slaughter at the O.K. Corral; the tragic 1890 murder of his friend Sitting Bull by reservation police. Jack's on hand in London when the queen emerges from over a quarter century of mourning to see Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. Annie Oakley and Mrs. Libby Custer look lovely from Jack's whiskey-blurred point of view, but in the end he gives his heart to an educated, literary, "modern woman." Bergman's authority as a historian never takes itself too seriously. With masterful use of dialect and utter narrative confidence, he fully inhabits his idiosyncratic hero to create a hilarious and touching classic. Time Warner audio.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Little Brown & Co (T); 1st edition (February 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316098442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316098441
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #916,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Good historical fiction.
Lari L Solomon
The first book was the best one but this one was a good follow up and left me wanting to read more.
Raev1
In just looking thru it quickly, it is as funny and interesting as the first book .
Joyce S. Flippin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In Twain's footsteps
Critics tend to gush over Thomas Berger. He's been called the new Mark Twain. One of the most important writers of this century. Read "The Return of Little Big Man." You'll understand why. In his latest work, the author of 20 novels returns to the story of Little Big Man (a.k.a. Jack Crabb). We first met Crabb in 1964 in the original "Little Big Man." Thirty-five years later, Berger reprises the character in an effort that brings honor to the tattered reputation of sequels. Again, Crabb, who's well past his 100th year, is reminiscing about his life in the Old West. And an adventurous life it is. In many respects, he is the Forrest Gump of his time. Despite being a lowly bartender, his path continually crosses the biggest names in the West: Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickock, Annie Oakley, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Sitting Bull and, for good measure, the Pope and the Queen of England. The result is a personalized, everyman's perspective of the era's legends. The plot is delivered in a series of encounters with such notables. But where Berger truly shines is in Crabb's observations on life. He speaks in the rich, unlettered voice of another time - hence the Twain comparisons. Yet he manages to be insightful, educational and disarmingly funny all at once. Crabb bounds about the West, busting myths, telling tall tales and offering eccentric commentary on the period. This is fiction at its best. Don't let the Western theme put you off. Berger ably meshes biography with comedy, love stories with history, without any one element pushing another away. Best of all, you'll get to see Berger, one of the great craftsmen of our time, at work.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jack Purcell on January 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Those who read and re-read Little Big Man every decade or so over 40 years were probably as delighted as I was when Return of Little Big Man appeared in 1999. Jack Crabbe, the geriatric home resident of the original novel who'd told of his experiences in the West, always peripheral to the events we all know of, returns in this sequel to tell of his life after the Little Big Horn fight.

As the only white survivor of Little Big Horn, Jack wanders broke and almost naked into Deadwood, SD, to encounter his old acquaintance from Dodge, City, KS, Wild Bill Hickock, in time to be present for the Aces and Eights scenario. Naturally, Crabbe gives the eye-witness account of the even a bit differently than you've heard before.

Thereafter, Crabbe wanders back to Dodge, Tombstone, elsewhere, in time to be present for the OK Corral fight, offering up another side of the Earp brothers, Doc Holliday, the Clantons and Bat Masterson. Then eastward to the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, Queen Victoria, Bertie, Sitting Bull and Elizabeth Custer.

As a grand finale he manages to be with Sitting Bull for the assassination of the great chief of the Souix.

A great follow-up book to Little Big Man. Too bad it took so many decades to appear.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Return of Little Big Man is not as good as Little Big Man, but since Little Big Man easily ranks among the ten greatest American novels ever written, that is not strong criticism. RLBM is a bit too long - it drags somewhat between the point at which Jack Crabb joins Buffalo Bill and the point at which he witnesses Sitting Bull's death. But otherwise it is superior in every way.
There is a change of focus here. Unlike LBM, RLBM is less a revisionist history of the Old West and has changed its focus to the encroaching Twentieth Century. Best of all, it introduces a romantic element in the form of Amanda Teasdale, who will surely prove a match for Jack Crabb. The author promises additional installments of Crabb's life. I look forward to them. I wish he'd produce a nonfiction companion volume (or footnotes a la Flashman) so the reader could determine what is fact and what is fancy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This sequel was well worth the wait. Although I found the later chapters to move slow at times this is Berger at his best. The chapters dealing with Tombstone are as charming and witty as the material in the original story. An enjoyable read!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Frank J. Konopka VINE VOICE on November 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
I remember quite fondly the movie "Little Big Man" with Dustin Hoffman, so when I discovered that there were further adventures of Jack Crabb I purchased this sequel. It reveals more tales of Jack's adventures with some of the Old West's most colorful characters such as Wild Bill Hickock, Buffalo Bill Cody, Chief Sitting Bull, Annie Oakley, etc.. It's a book that is never dull, and the characters, both real and invented, mesh seamlessly in the narrative. It's not the West that you might remember from the old cowboy shows on television, but it's certainly a more vibrant place, and definitely more true to life. The book only takes us up to about 1893, so I sincerely hope that ol' Jack has more tales to tell, and that we'll see them in book form shortly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
My favorite historical fiction novel of the last year or two is The Triumph and the Glory, but Berger's fine book is a close second. The appeal of this genre is the transportation of the reader to other times and places with style and compelling realism, and Berger accomplishes this task 100 percent. Great reading, well-developed characters, a solid four star book.
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