The best books about George A. Custer and the Little Bighorn

Why am I passionate about this?

As a journalist, the Little Bighorn fascinates me because it has all the elements of a great story: larger-than-life characters, conflict, fighting against the odds, and mystery. I turned that fascination into research when I left newspapering to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Texas. I wrote a number of articles about press coverage of Custer and the Last Stand, and this research eventually led to two books, most recently a biography of Custer focusing on his artistic personality, especially his writing career. I’ve continued to explore the history of war reporting, always looking for topics that make good stories.


I wrote...

Ambitious Honor: George Armstrong Custer's Life of Service and Lust for Fame

By James Mueller,

Book cover of Ambitious Honor: George Armstrong Custer's Life of Service and Lust for Fame

What is my book about?

George Armstrong Custer, one of the most familiar figures of nineteenth-century American history, is known almost exclusively as a soldier, his brilliant military career culminating in catastrophe at Little Bighorn. But Custer, author James E. Mueller suggests, had the soul of an artist, not of a soldier. Ambitious Honor elaborates this radically new perspective, arguing that an artistic passion for creativity and recognition drove Custer to success—and, ultimately, to the failure that has overshadowed his notable achievements.

What Ambitious Honor provides is the context for understanding how Custer's theatrical personality took shape and thrived, beginning with his training at a teaching college before he entered West Point. Teaching, Mueller notes, requires creativity and performance, both of which fascinated and served Custer throughout his life.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors

James Mueller Why did I love this book?

This dual-biography has the best description of Custer’s death ever written. Of course, no one knows exactly what happened, and that sense of mystery is one of the reasons it has become part of American lore. But master historian Stephen Ambrose uses the available evidence to speculate in a few beautifully written paragraphs what brought Custer to his legendary defeat and how he might have reacted to it in his last moments. The comparative stories of Custer and Crazy Horse leading to the battle is a fast-paced tale that will make you keep turning pages, forgetting you know how it will end. But the book is more than fine writing. The dual-biography format is the perfect vehicle for Ambrose to explain the clash of cultures that led to tragic conflict.

By Stephen E. Ambrose,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crazy Horse and Custer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller from the author of Band of Brothers: The biography of two fighters forever linked by history and the battle at Little Bighorn.

On the sparkling morning of June 25, 1876, 611 men of the United States 7th Cavalry rode toward the banks of Little Bighorn in the Montana Territory, where three thousand Indians stood waiting for battle. The lives of two great warriors would soon be forever linked throughout history: Crazy Horse, leader of the Oglala Sioux, and General George Armstrong Custer. Both were men of aggression and supreme courage. Both became leaders in their…


Book cover of A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn - The Last Great Battle of the American West

James Mueller Why did I love this book?

James Donovan combined impeccable research with an engaging style to produce the best book about the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The battle is the subject of more books than just about any other fight in American history, but Donovan’s has set a new standard. I referred to the book regularly while writing my biography of Custer. You can’t really begin to understand a complex battle like the Little Bighorn without a seasoned guide. But Donovan doesn’t just explain the battle. He writes in a way that gives his book the feel of a novel rather than a dry recitation of facts. A Terrible Glory will take you on an exciting ride and teach you everything you need to know about Custer’s Last Stand.

By James Donovan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Terrible Glory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In June of 1876, on a hill above a river called the Little Bighorn, George Armstrong Custer and all 210 men under his direct command were annihilated by 2,000 Sioux and Cheyenne. The news of this stunning defeat caused an uproar, and those involved promptly began to point fingers in order to avoid responsibility. Custer, who was conveniently dead, took the brunt of the blame. The truth, however was far more complex. A TERRIBLE GLORY is the first book to tell the entire story of this fascinating battle, and the first to call upon new findings of the last 25…


Book cover of Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America

James Mueller Why did I love this book?

When I first heard about Custer’s Trials, I thought it was almost sacrilegious to write a biography of the Boy General without a full, descriptive chapter on the Last Stand. Stiles instead covered the battle in an epilogue about the Court of Enquiry into the conduct of Maj. Marcus Reno at the Little Bighorn, where he was Custer’s second in command. Nevertheless, Stiles’ book is an engrossing psychological portrait of Custer that puts his life in the context of his times. Stiles addresses the changes in American culture—moving toward a modern, industrial society—that shaped the lives of the Civil War generation. You’ll not only get a new view of Custer from reading Custer’s Trials, you’ll get a better understanding of the development of the United States.

By T.J. Stiles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Custer's Trials as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for History

From the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and a National Book Award, a brilliant biography of Gen. George Armstrong Custer that radically changes our view of the man and his turbulent times.

In this magisterial biography, T. J. Stiles paints a portrait of Custer both deeply personal and sweeping in scope, proving how much of Custer’s legacy has been ignored. He demolishes Custer’s historical caricature, revealing a volatile, contradictory, intense person—capable yet insecure, intelligent yet bigoted, passionate yet self-destructive, a romantic individualist at odds with the institution of the military (he was…


Book cover of My Life on the Plains: Or, Personal Experiences with Indians

James Mueller Why did I love this book?

What is a better way to understand history than to hear from those who made it? I’ve read Custer’s memoir several times and always enjoyed it immensely. Did he exaggerate parts of it? Maybe. After all, he was raised in the bragging, tall-tale culture of Ohio and refined that art on the lonely Army posts on the Plains. Custer had a self-deprecating style that allowed him to make fun of himself for accidentally shooting his horse yet he could put you on the edge of the seat when he took you with him into combat. My Life on the Plains is an excellent view of the life of a cavalryman doing service that Custer found was often distasteful and unappreciated by the civilians the soldiers protected. 

By George Armstrong Custer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Life on the Plains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOTE: This book has been scanned then OCR (Optical Character Recognition) has been applied to turn the scanned page images back into editable Text. This means that the text CAN be re-sized, searches performed, & bookmarks added, unlike Kindle Books that are only scanned.

We have added an Interactive Table of Contents & an Interactive List of Illustrations. This means that the reader can click on the BLUE links in the Table of Contents or the List of Illustrations & be instantly transported to that Chapter or Illustration.

To make reading easier, especially on smaller mobile devices, we have added…


Book cover of Soldier Boy

James Mueller Why did I love this book?

I bought this book in Chicago and read all 151 pages on a flight back to Dallas. Soldier Boy is a young adult fiction book that grabbed me from the first-page description of a bare-knuckle fight between the teenage protagonist, Johnny “the Kid” McBane, and an unnamed palooka in a gritty Chicago gambling house. McBane joins the Army to escape some hoodlums, and the story never lets up as it takes him to the frontier and eventually the Little Bighorn. I’ve many read many fictionalized accounts of the Little Bighorn. This is the best. Soldier Boy is a great read but also an excellent insight into the experience of many underage soldiers in the frontier Army. The ending will stay with you long after you finish the book.

By Brian Burks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Soldier Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This gripping historical novel set during the final years of the Indian Wars explores army life in the American West as it details one boy’s struggle to become a man.


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By John Winn Miller,

Book cover of The Hunt for the Peggy C: A World War II Maritime Thriller

John Winn Miller

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What is my book about?

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During the nerve-wracking 3,000-mile escape, Rogers falls in love with the family’s eldest daughter, Miriam, a sweet medical student with a militant streak. Everything seems hopeless when Jake is badly wounded, and Miriam must prove she’s as tough as her rhetoric to put down a mutiny by some of Jake’s fed-up crew–just as the U-boat closes in for the kill.

The Hunt for the Peggy C: A World War II Maritime Thriller

By John Winn Miller,

What is this book about?

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The normally aloof Rogers finds himself drawn in by the family's warmth and faith, but he can't afford to let his guard down when Oberleutnant Viktor…


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