Thieves’ Road: The Black Hills Betrayal and Custer’s Path to Little Bighorn

Terry Mort. Prometheus Books, $25 (300p) ISBN 978-1-61614-960-4
Though much has been written about the legendary confrontation between the Lakota Sioux and Gen. George Custer’s U.S. cavalry at the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn, Mort (The Wrath of Cochise) examines Custer’s less well-known 1874 expedition to South Dakota’s Black Hills, in this dense work of narrative history. Custer’s goal was to discover if this region, little known to white Americans, held extensive gold deposits, and though he was careful not to exaggerate how much gold he found, word soon spread, drawing prospectors from across the nation. In Mort’s view, Custer’s discovery of gold made it inevitable that the federal government would try to gain control of the Black Hills by any means necessary, a decision that spelled the end of the Lakota Sioux’s way of life. Although Mort’s book suffers from occasional overwriting, it is a lively and impressively researched account not only of the collision between two very different ways of life, but between ideas about the ownership and use of landa collision whose outcome would have long-lasting significance for both the victors and the vanquished, far beyond the remote hills of South Dakota. Agent: Don Fehr, Trident Media Group. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/15/2014
Release date: 02/10/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
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