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Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Big Horn and the Fate of the Plains Indians Paperback – September 1, 1995

3.9 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Novelist Welch and documentary filmmaker Stekler probe the long-term repercussions that victory over Custer had for Native Americans, in a companion book to their PBS documentary Last Stand at Little Bighorn.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (November 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140251766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140251760
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #595,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Chris Wilson on January 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
Let's get something straight. Nothing new can possibly be written on Custer and the Battle of Little Big Horn. Every shadow, contemporary account and hidden ridge have been combed over. The truth is there and the mystery is solved. So it was with great surprise while reading James Welch's "Killing Custer" I discovered a few interesting perspectives not yet studied, and what a refreshing contemplation this is.

Welch, an accomplished Native American writer of the Blackfeet tribe in Montana, was initially a reluctant participant in the superb documentary American Experience: Last Stand at Little Big Horn directed by Paul Stekler. He became a dedicated activist in the film's cause and this book is a result of his own spiritual examination. The documentary, first broadcast on PBS in 1992, recounts the battle and aggressive eastern encroachment through the eyes of Native American descendants of the Lakota, Cheyenne and Crow. The film was an earnest attempt to emphasize stories of the people attacked by Custer and the 7th Cavalry, who essentially made a last stand for their culture.

Welch accurately notes how most Native Americans roll their eyes at America's obsession with this battle. He cuts through the mythology and tells his version without military glorification. As Welch states, Custer's plan was to kill Indians, and when he rode down into that valley in 1876, he planned to kill as many as quickly as possible. Welch's version of the battle is largely inspired by Native American accounts handed down through generations.
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Format: Paperback
It's a good day to die; the book was issued in France under this title.Looking for other books on this american site,I was surprised and shocked to read some of the reviews.I think this book is important . Of course, I guess that many books have been written about this subject, and I don't know if this one gives us more informations than the others.But what is important to me is the fact that this book has been written by an indian,a man who has more than anyone else, the right to speak about what happened to his people. The 20's century great democracies, including France,can't be proud of their foundations.America with indian and black peoples,France in the West Indies ,and North Africa.One thing surprises me in the reviews of this book:a reviewer only writes about the Little Big Horn battle,although the book goes from 1869 to Sitting Bull's death in 1890.He is sad not to have been able to see the Reno site while visiting the country; personnaly,I would have prefered (and hope I'll have the opportunity) to spend a few hours on the place,near the river,where the Sioux and Cheyennes were living with their families.Another reviewer complains about "the political subtones of the author".And so what? Senator McCarthy fortunately died,no? And I think Mr Welch ,like any other human being, can and has to have a political conciousness.YOu can agree with him or not,but you can't reproach him with telling what he thinks .I was glad to read this book,and I recommend it to you.
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Format: Paperback
James Welch, a Blackfeet/Gros Ventre novelist, turns his hand to history after writing a screen play on the same topic, The Battle of the Little Bighorn.
The book is very smoothly written and easy to read and follow; there are maps and photos to augment the text.
For anyone interested in the events which led up to "Custer's Last Stand" and more importantly to the effect it had on Native Americans this book provides a great deal of understanding.
Welch has the wisdom to write for his readers, some white, some not and maintains a clear eye throughout without devolving into blame or distortion.
The book is particularly interesting if you have been to or plan to go to the National Monument in southeastern Montana , an hour north of Sheridan , WY and the Bighorn Mountains.
The site has a moving quality to it, bare hills with white markers for fallen soldiers flanked by steep gullies leading down to the valley floor where a three mile long village of Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho gathered in late June 1876.
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Format: Paperback
The value of this book lies in the ability to present the Indians as humans rather than the evil savages ingrained into most American s during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Mr. Welch succeeds in showing the indecision and doubt that plagued Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse during the latter years of the Plains War. The passages explaining the negative aftermath of the Little Bighorn for the Plains Indian because it is overlooked or ignored by history books.

I thought Mr. Welch's decison to weave the Little Bighorn into the story of making the film about the battle made the book more interesting. It allowed the inclusion of unrelated items, such as the gravesite of Bill Thomas, which provided additional background to some of the major points of the book.

It is an interesting and easy read that would be enjoyable to anyone slightly interested in Custer, Little Bighorn or the Plains Indians.
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