cover image Glorious War: The Civil War Adventures of George Armstrong Custer

Glorious War: The Civil War Adventures of George Armstrong Custer

Thom Hatch. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-02850-1

What most people know about Custer’s life centers on one day: his fatal last stand at Little Bighorn in 1876. Not fair, claims Spur Award winner Hatch (for 2005’s Black Kettle), who briskly and convincingly sets out to rescue the Union Army’s youngest general from this ignominy. Hatch leads a romp through the Civil War, describing Custer’s involvement in many key confrontations, including both Bull Runs, Brandy Station, Gettysburg, and Appomattox. An undistinguished graduate of West Point in 1861, Custer made a name for himself early in the war with daring cavalry charges and smart military strategies. His rapid advance through aide-de-camp positions for three generals, coupled with his willingness to get out on the battlefield with his men and his flair for self-promotion, made Custer one of the most colorful characters of the war. The deftly detailed narrative undergirds Hatch’s emphasis on the importance of Custer’s early military career while delivering the drama of the larger swirl of the Civil War. However, Hatch reveals little about Custer’s private life or his inner self, elements of character that might have helped flesh out how and why this popular, accomplished general died so young. (Dec.)