Inventing Custer: The Making of an American Legend - The American Crisis Series: Books on the Civil War Era (Hardback)
  • Inventing Custer: The Making of an American Legend - The American Crisis Series: Books on the Civil War Era (Hardback)
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Inventing Custer: The Making of an American Legend - The American Crisis Series: Books on the Civil War Era (Hardback)

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£27.95
Hardback 388 Pages / Published: 03/09/2015
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Custer's Last Stand remains one of the most iconic events in American history and culture. Had Custer prevailed at the Little Bighorn, the victory would have been noteworthy at the moment, worthy of a few newspaper headlines, but only a few among the many battles with the Plains Indians. In defeat, however tactically inconsequential in the larger conflict, Custer became legend. In Inventing Custer, Edward Caudill and Paul Ashdown bridge the gap between the Custer who truly existed and the one we've immortalized and mythologized into legend in our generally accepted reading of American history and his significance to it.

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9781442251861
Number of pages: 388
Weight: 726 g
Dimensions: 233 x 158 x 33 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
In the fourth book of a series exploring the myths and reality of famous Civil War leaders, University of Tennessee professors Caudill and Ashdown demonstrate how George Armstrong Custer's Civil War experience is critical to understanding his personality, and describe the multiple interpretations of Custer's life and his influence on American history, society, and culture. The first half of this well-researched book highlights differing interpretations of Custer's significant Civil War experiences and successes. The second half of the book sketches his frontier experience and includes a short overview of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, with the bulk of the text devoted to a detailed survey of media interpretations of his exploits. For those familiar with Custer's history, these are the most interesting sections of the book, as the authors analyze historical interpretations of Custer and his role in varied works of fiction and nonfiction. Finally, Caudill and Ashdown look at the influence of the Custer myth on popular perceptions of Native Americans and on other elements of popular culture. Well written and informative, this accessible volume is a valuable addition to serious Custer scholarship. * Publishers Weekly *
In this fourth book in a series that explores the lives of the US Civil War's most mythical figures, Caudill and Ashdown note that George Armstrong Custer has become more myth than reality, a product not only of journalists and future historians, but also of Custer himself. Unfortunately, this myth has led historians to report Custer's Civil War life as merely a `prelude' to the events at Little Bighorn. And, once formed, Custer's myth continued to morph as historians attempted to reinterpret US-Native American relations. Caudill and Ashdown, however, attempt to analyze the whole Custer to better understand how his Civil War experience, coupled with the nation's attitudes toward Natives and its coming to grips with a changing society within Reconstruction, created the immortal Custer at the Little Bighorn. Ultimately, the authors successfully peel back the layers of mythos surrounding Custer to reveal how the ordinary life becomes extraordinary. Thoroughly researched and well written, this work is a must-have for those interested in the historiography of Custer, the role of media in creating myths, and the evolution of memory and history studies. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. * CHOICE *
[This] book is a welcome and useful new addition to the Custer library. . . . The sections on the development of the myths and legends is noteworthy. * Cannonball - York Blog *
More than 1,600 books have been written about Custer, most dealing with his final fight in southern Montana, and it would seem unlikely for new insights to be found in such an examined figure. Yet Inventing Custer makes a real contribution to the field, examining the life, times, and cultural impact of a man Caudill and Ashdown describe as 'a scorpion who could sting his victims and in the end wound up stinging himself.' . . . [T]he authors do an admirable job of showing how Custer's legend began and how, often under his own direction, it grew to large size even before his untimely demise. . . .Inventing Custer presents plenty of evidence to show that, by making such a successful transition from life to legend, Custer became perfectly suited to reflect American ideals of the day-whatever those ideals may be. * Chapter16 *
Edward Caudill and Paul Ashdown's study of Custer's life and the creation of his legacy offers a significant contribution to Custer literature. Caudill and Ashdown, professors of journalism and electronic media at the University of Tennessee, have relied on extensive published primary and secondary sources to produce a volume that is part biography, part historiography, and part memory study. Throughout the book, the authors do a commendable job of recounting Custer's life-his birth in New Rumley, Ohio, time as a cadet at West Point, career during the Civil War, campaigns during the Indian Wars, and annihilation at Little Big Horn in 1876. . . . Beyond Caudill's and Ashdown's insightful analysis of Custer's Civil War service, historians of our American Iliad will find that the authors parse a great deal of historiography throughout their superb book-illustrating the roles that historians have played in adding to Custer's legend. . . . There is little to criticize in this well-balanced, prodigiously researched, and masterfully crafted study. This book is not only essential reading for Custer aficionados, but for anyone who seeks to understand how a historical legacy is created, manipulated, and changes with the evolving moods of an ever-changing nation. * The Civil War Monitor *
Inventing Custer is an excellent review of the principal architects and audiences of multiple Custers who have come to pass. * Journal of Southern History *
'Daring, dashing, and suddenly dead,' Custer's brief, violent soldier's life was the prototype for American celebrity, as Edward Caudill and Paul Ashdown explain in their fascinating summation and unwinding of Custer the man from undying legend. Read this rich book to understand why the Last Stand lives on and on. -- Marc Wortman, author of The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta and 1941: Fighting the Shadow War (forthcoming)
As historians of myth correction, Edward Caudill and Paul Ashdown take on a historical figure that everyone thinks they know all about. Read this book to find out what Custer was really like. You will be amazed at what you learn. -- John F. Marszalek, Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Mississippi State University; executive director and managing editor, Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library
The Civil War made George Armstrong Custer an American hero. The Battle of the Little Bighorn transformed him into a mythic figure, whose death is a part of the American saga. Caudill and Ashdown separate the reality from the myth in their beautifully written Inventing Custer: The Making of an American Legend. -- David B. Sachsman, West Chair of Excellence, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; director of the Symposium on the 19th Century Press, the Civil War, and Free Expression

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