Son of the Morning Star: Custer and The Little Bighorn (Paperback) Review

Son of the Morning Star: Custer and The Little BighornEvan Connell has written a powerful book.It is a balanced presentation of George Armstrong Custer, the post-Civil War Indian Wars, Plains Indians and the myth of the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
Facts abound.Istarted this book thinking it would primarily focus on Gen. Custer and thefight.While those topics are the framework of the book, Connell spendsquite a bit of time exploring various indian chiefs, indian practices,previous conflicts and the conditions that produced one of our country'smost celebrated battles.First person quotes are abundent and the authorusually produces two or more sides to every episode.These explorationsunderscore how difficult getting at a true history is, particulary whenpride and ego rest on a particular telling of an event.He has done verygood research.
This is a brutal book.American and indian savagry arelaid bare.Warfare and existence on the frontier were not pretty. The"rules" of war were abandoned by both sides with regard to thetaking of prisoners or the frequent butchering of women and children alongwith those unlucky enough to be in the path of maurading soldiers or indianbands.Connell's book leaves no doubt that American notions of racialsuperiority, mainfest destiny and economics created the situation in whichthe indians would fight in the extreme to protect their lands from whiteencroachment.However, the author also underscores that most of the indiantribes were brutal and ruthless when attacking other tribes, lone indiansand in their own rituals and customs.Had America respected it's indiantreaties, it can be argued that the indian lands still would have hadatrocities visited upon them as various tribes concentrated their full timeattentions on settling the wrongs each felt had been metted out by otherred men.His refusal to treat the indian as a politically correctmanifestation of mother nature is refreshing and allows for a very balancedtelling of the story.
The author has a unique writing style.He doesn'tcome to a fork in the road without taking it.These side tracks andtangents allow him to explore in full the charactors and milieu attendentto The Last Stand.However, they are presented in no particular order orchronology.The author paints a strong impression rather than presentingan ordered and structured telling of a compelling tale.This incohesion isso pronounced that the end of a chapter has no meaning other than to allowone to catch one's breath before plunging into the next twenty pages offree associations.
My opinion of this book changed several times duringmy reading.In the beginning, I found it hard to get into because of it'smeandering style. But the vignettes, characters, facts and writing are allcompelling.His style will require some adjustment to the frequent readerof history. But, by the end the reader will know that they have immersedthemselvs in a darn good story that fascinates.

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