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Custer's Luck 1st Edition

3.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1928746140
ISBN-10: 1928746144
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What if Gen. George Armstrong Custer had won the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn after all and had emerged a national hero? That is the question Skimin (The River and the Horsemen) poses in this vividly imagined alternative history. As Skimin reminds the reader, Custer led a charmed life, at least until his famous last stand. As a fighting soldier, Custer's "luck" saw him safely through the Civil War, court-martial, scandals, failed investments, and Indian wars (almost). In this fictional universe, the general's luck holds much longer. After defeating the Sioux and Cheyenne at Little Bighorn, Custer becomes the most popular man in America. Full of himself and ever the opportunist, surrounded by brothers, nephews and sycophants, he begins to envision a political career. Aided by a ruthless newspaper tycoon and political powerbroker, and with a crooked charlatan as campaign manager, Custer runs for the presidency in 1880. He demolishes his opposition, and is swept into the White House on an imperial expansion platform called "The New American Empire." Determined to make the U.S. the most powerful nation on earth, Custer intends to annex Mexico, absorb Canada and kick Spain out of Cuba. Opposing him are two enemies, his hated army rival, congressman Frederick Benteen, and a vengeful Sioux warrior named Red Elk, who has a special score to settle with the general. From the smoke-filled rooms of Tammany Hall to the perfumed boudoirs of several famous mistresses, the ornery Custer manifests unexpected political acuity and a stinging authority that scares and threatens even his supporters. Of course, Custer's luck will run out, but getting there is all the fun in this preposterous and highly entertaining yarn of fame, politics and power.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Award-winning author Skimin and Texas Judge Moody, who edits Research Review: The Journal of The Little Bighorn Associates, deliver a fascinating what-if historical fantasy. (Skimin went this route earlier with Gray Victory [1988], in which the Confederacy wins the War between the States.) Now, he and Moody have made the golden-haired George Armstrong Custer, always a legend in his own mind, the winner at Little Bighorn. This alternative Custer is a figure of such enormous popularity that, eventually, he is swept into the Oval Office, where he quickly becomes a saber-rattling chief executive and declares war on Spain. The novel's fascinating subplot, about Sioux war leader Red Elk, whose wife dies at Little Bighorn and who dedicates the rest of his life to avenging her death, could have been a novel all by itself. An outstanding story, both as fiction and as historical speculation. The authors make us believe that it could have all happened just the way it is presented here. Budd Arthur
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 297 pages
  • Publisher: Herodias; 1st edition (September 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1928746144
  • ISBN-13: 978-1928746140
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,933,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fiction, indeed: George Armstrong Custer wins at the Little Bighorn and becomes such a hero that he is later nominated for the presidency of the United States. Skimin explores the possibilities of this scenario, and it's up to the reader to decide if it makes any difference when an alternative personage resides in the Oval Office. If you know just the barest of facts about Custer, you'll find this book interesting. If you've done your homework and read "Crazy Horse and Custer" by Stephen Ambrose, you'll find the work intriguing. At the very least, it's stimulating food for historical thought.
Unfortunately, the editing and/or proofreading job on the publication leaves a lot to be desired. When I started counting the number of times "it's" was mistakenly employed instead of "its" -- 17 -- I knew the styling was getting in the way of my enjoyment of the story. I also saw at least 11 spelling or grammatical errors; mis- or non-uses of dashes, hyphens, quotes, and question marks became too numerous to make note of. It's surprising that a commercial publisher can let that much slip by these days. For the reputation of the author, I sincerely hope the glitches are corrected if this title goes to paperback or to an additional printing.
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Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this "what if" story of a successful Custer who seemed to be ahead of his time, and yet suffered from the same character defects as more recent leaders. While the details surrounding some of the lesser characters was a little tedious, it was a quick,interesting, and fun read. In the final analysis, Custer could not escape the Little Big Horn and, as with JFK, the promise of a great leader was not realized. Don't miss this book if you enjoy alternative history and Custer mythology.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been reading alternative histories on and off since MacKinlay Kantor wrote "If the South Had Won the Civil War" several decades ago. The two key factors in any alternative history are (1) what happens differently to alter the flow of history and (2) what significant chances result from that alteration. Such stories are usually flawed because the first part becomes convoluted beyond belief, but that is certainly not the case with "Custer's Luck," written by Robert Skimin with researcher William E. Moody. The pivotal moment is, of course, the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and the authors have George Armstrong Custer discover the true size of the Indian camp he is about to attack. So instead of continuing with his suicidal charge he reunites his elements of the 7th Calvary with those under Reno and Benteen. With a unified command Custer is able to compel Sitting Bull to surrender by employing his standard tactic, threatening the women and children. Therefore, instead of the newspapers being full of the massacre of Custer's troops on nation's Centennial, "Long Hair" is credited with a great victory. All of this is certainly plausible.
Equally reasonable is the idea that Custer would then have been tapped to run for President in 1880. The main thrust of "Custer's Luck" is therefore going to be what happens to the destiny of America with Custer in the White House. If you have a reasonable grasp of American history--and there is no reason to be reading these types of books if you do not--then half the fun is recognizing where and when the authors are lifting ideas and events. This goes from such relatively minor things as the court-martial of a black West Point cadet to Custer insisting the U.S.
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Format: Hardcover
This book, which tells the story of a successful Battle of Little Bighorn, is painstakingly well researched. Obviously, researcher Bill Moody did his job; all the "players" of the Gilded Age fall into their obvious roles. The comparisons to JFK don't stop at the brothers in the government or the youthful (unfaithful) President and his pretty wife, though Skimin claims that the book is not intended to be compared to "Camelot."

The problem is that either Skimin is a terrible writer or his editors had it in for him. The book is riddled with grammatical and stylistic errors, especially "it's" for "its." At first it's just annoying, but after awhile the errors really detract from the enjoyment of the story.
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Format: Hardcover
...and I hate to say that, because I was really, REALLY looking forward to reading this book! Alternate histories fascinate me (as they do many readers) and although I'm happy to say that the author appears to have a good grasp of Custer as a personality and doesn't paint him as a heartless, Indian-hating, glory-grabbing brute (which is refreshing!), his style is extremely dry. The research is sound, but it's more like reading a history textbook than a novel. So, if you're looking for a teeth-rattling page-turner, I'm afraid this isn't it. "Marching to Valhalla" is a much better bet!
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