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Deliverance from the Little Big Horn: Doctor Henry Porter and Custer's Seventh Cavalry Hardcover – October 8, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“I read this entire gripping saga in one sitting, fascinated by Joan Stevenson's exciting narrative style and her perceptive insights into certain heretofore obscure details of our nation's most famous failed military expedition. With her keen knowledge of the medical practices of the era, Stevenson sheds graphic illumination on the skills and bravery of the physicians and soldiers who served on that tragic battlefield. This remarkable book is an important addition to the history of medicine, military history, and any collection of Americana.”—Sherwin B. Nuland, Clinical Professor of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, and author of How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter


“A gripping account of medical care in the Indian-fighting army. Often grim but always insightful, Stevenson’s examination of doctoring in the 1870s is an exceptional contribution to Custer and Little Big Horn literature and to the woeful saga of medicine in the Old Army.” —Paul L. Hedren, author of After Custer: Loss and Transformation in Sioux Country and Great Sioux War Orders of Battle


"Joan Stevenson explores an important and often overlooked dimension of the Battle of the Little Big Horn: the intricate medical aspects. Told largely through the life and experiences of the only surgeon with Custer’s command to survive that bloody day, Deliverance from the Little Big Horn offers a stirring tale that will readily appeal to readers enamored not only of that engagement but of other army-Indian conflicts throughout the West."—Jerome A. Greene, author of Yellowstone Command: Colonel Nelson A. Miles and the Great Sioux War and editor of Lakota and Cheyenne: Indian Views of the Great Sioux War, 1876–1877


This is a book that needed to be written. In Deliverance from the Little Big Horn, Joan Nabseth Stevenson has tackled a complicated, unfortunately somewhat obscure topic with a level of expertise and credibility that places her among the finest Old West medical writers around.

She re-polishes the sometimes weary and dull recounting of the Custer battle with the grit and gory detail it deserves. She has accurately depicted the challenges, limitations and delivery of medical trauma care of the day. To tell the tale of Maj. Marcus Reno’s perspective of the battle, withdrawal and “deliverance” from the point of view of the Old West contract army physician Dr. Henry Porter is brilliant. I highly recommend the book to all True West readers.

—James P. Kornberg, M.D., Sc.D, “Frontier Doc” True West contributing editor



Custer’s Seventh Cavalry had three surgeons among its ranks before the Battle of Little Big Horn. When it was over only one, 28-year-old Henry Porter, was still alive. John Nabseth Stevenson’s evocative account of Porter’s battlefield heroics in the face of overwhelming odds is a wonderful addition to the existing literature on this seminal battle.

Following the attack, and the frontier surgeries he performed on more than 60 soldiers, Porter was instrumental in evacuating survivors and keeping them alive over a rough 15-mile journey to a steamboat, followed by a 700-mile journey to the nearest hospital in Bismarck. Stevenson reveals that the U.S. government has still not acknowledged Porter’s deeds. Perhaps this book will change that.—Cowboys & Indians



“Stevenson’s medical perspective on Little Big Horn is revelatory, written with an eye for striking details.”—Publishers Weekly


This is a mesmerizing story, masterfully researched and excellently written” —Johnny D. Boggs in Roundup Magazine

About the Author

Joan Nabseth Stevenson an independent scholar, holds a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literature from Stanford University. The daughter of a vascular surgeon, she lives with her husband, a neonatologist, in Los Altos Hills, California.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press; 1st edition (October 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806142669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806142661
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,410,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I must confess to being an avid history reader but not usually about the US Western expansion. However, this book combined my interest in medical history with one of my brothers special interests, the Little Big Horn. A wonderful, engaging read. I learned a lot and enjoyed every minute. A special story that is beautifully written and documented.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book will remain etched in my mind as the most fantastic account of the battle I ever read. I have shared it with a few friends and afterwards sent it off to Finland for my son to read, after he and I visited the actual site. Heartily recommended to anyone interested in this historical event.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very well read and researched book. If you're looking for obscure facts about the battle, and most Custerphiles are, you'll find this an interesting read. It drags in a few places, but not dramatically so. The author clearly did their homework.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the Great-Great Nephew of Dr. Henry Rinaldo Porter, I wish to thank Joan Nabseth Stevenson for this wonderful book. The research and time that was spent on this project is just remarkable, and the insight she is able to offer is beyond description.

Having a lot of knowledge about Uncle Henry's life and times, makes me appreciate her effort even more. She has been able to re-introduce him to me, and to become far more aware of who he was, and what a major part of the Battle of the Little Big Horn that he provided. Joan has given me insight that I had never thought about, and almost "put me right there on Reno Hill" with Uncle Henry, in the field hospital. It takes a certain kind of Author to have the ability to accomplish this, and Joan is just that. Joan, thank you.

If you are a student of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, this book is a MUST. The battle, itself, was more than just LtCol. Custer and his family. It was about individuals who fought, died, were wounded, survived, and survived pure hell. Each member of the 7th Calvary had a story to tell, although most didn't. Joan Nabseth Stevenson has thoroughly told the story of Dr. Porter during the battle and thereafter.

Having had the honor and pleasure of talking with Joan has made this book so much more enjoyable, as well. Joan, not by bloodline, but thru love and so much labor, is now considered by the Porter Family of today, to be one of us.

Again, this is a MUST read if you are a true student of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The University of Oklahoma Press should be thanked as well, for their publishing this FANTASTIC Account.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked the book and the author is talented. Much of the book is standard Little Bighorn Battle narrative. The author goes very easy on Reno in that regard. I was expecting much more detailed information on the medical techniques and procedures. Not to say none were covered. But a lot of the book was about the battle. Worth reading after others like Terrible Glory and Last Stand.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There has been quite a few books published on the Little Big Horn covering a whole range of characters who were there, and this book on the surviving Doctor, Dr Porter is a biography deserving of the man. We are made aware of the hardships and even prejudices particularly toward the contract doctors like doctor Porter had to endure whilst at the same time giving their all to their profession in accordance with their oath.

Yet another insight into this campaign that further highlights the myths that were propagated by Hollywood. From all of these books published on Reno, Custer, Benteen, Sheridan and others, we are presented with a more accurate history particularly with how some of these main players thought of their roles. For example the general empathy felt toward the indians.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book which apart from Custer buffs, would also be interesting to the medical profession today. This is a book that sits proudly with the rest in my bookshelf.
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By wpapac on February 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was a medical officer in 3/7 Cavalry. I provided the latest treatments at that time, and in worse case scenarios could never believe that I wild be in the same situation as Dr Porter. We have such advantages today in medicine and soldier protection that precludes life threatening woulds. Dr Porter would have appreciated a bucket of clean water! I love to read the histories of the military doctor and advancements in treatments and equipment. This book illuminates the Doctor of old and should be read by every serving medical person! They would then appreciate what they have today! Every military medical historian must have this book in their collection. It is a vivid picture of the battle and the medical system in place at that time.the tourniquet and the pocket kit are not unlike what I carried with me in four combat tours of Iraq. Updated of course. Great book, great history.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book details what the men went through in the timber fight and on Reno hill. Dr. Porter worked his heart out to keep lifes blood flowing in the men. This was a great story and a very interesting read. Without a doubt a five star rating.
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