Road We Do Not Know: A Novel of the Little Bighorn

Frederick J. Chiaventone, Author Simon & Schuster $24 (333p) ISBN 978-0-684-83056-8
Everybody knows how this story ends, but in his first novel Chiaventone still provides a thrilling and scalp-raising ride with Custer and the 7th Cavalry down into the valley of the Little Bighorn River in 1876. Despite the emphatic warnings of his experienced Indian and civilian scouts, Custer never believed that his 600 cavalrymen would ride head-on into 5000 Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapahoe waiting eagerly to fight Yellow Hair and his soldiers. Custer expected to face no more than 800 warriors, and was sure that the Indians would scatter when attacked by the 7th Cavalry. He couldn't have been more wrong. Lieutenant Charles Varnum opens the story here, in the early morning hours of June 25th as he and his scouts come across the first signs of a huge Indian village laying somewhere ahead in the darkness. As events develop that morning, Custer, who is depicted by Chiaventone as never hesitant, makes fateful decisions that will be immortalized for 120 years. After dividing his force with the hapless Major Reno and the embittered Captain Benteen, Custer foolishly leads five companies of cavalrymen into a maelstrom of blood, bullets, arrows and war clubs--a horrific battle that can have only one outcome. Through the eyes of troopers, sergeants, officers and Indian warriors, Chiaventone takes the reader on to the battlefield, dismounted, choking on dust and gunsmoke, frantically shooting and dodging tomahawks, desperate to survive. Though fiction, this vigorous account is bolstered by fact and makes an excellent companion to Edwin P. Hoyt's novel The Last Stand, and Evan S. Connell's nonfiction Son of the Morning Star. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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Paperback - 333 pages - 978-0-8263-1885-5
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