Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Bloodshed at Little Bighorn, by Tim Lehman
History buffs take note: Last spring, The Johns Hopkins University Press published Bloodshed at Little Bighorn: Sitting Bull, Custer, and the Destinies of Nations, by Tim Lehman, as part of their Witness to History series. Here's how they describe the book:
"Commonly known as Custer's Last Stand, the Battle of Little Bighorn may be the best recognized violent conflict between the indigenous peoples of North America and the government of the United States. Incorporating the voices of Native Americans, soldiers, scouts, and women, Tim Lehman's concise, compelling narrative will forever change the way we think about this familiar event in American history.
"On June 25, 1876, General George Armstrong Custer led the United States Army's Seventh Cavalry in an attack on a massive encampment of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians on the bank of the Little Bighorn River. What was supposed to be a large-scale military operation to force U.S. sovereignty over the tribes instead turned into a quick, brutal rout of the attackers when Custer's troops fell upon the Indians ahead of the main infantry force. By the end of the fight, the Sioux and Cheyenne had killed Custer and 210 of his men. The victory fueled hopes of freedom and encouraged further resistance among the Native Americans. For the U.S. military, the lost battle prompted a series of vicious retaliatory strikes that ultimately forced the Sioux and Cheyenne into submission and the long nightmare of reservation life.
"This briskly paced, vivid account puts the battle's details and characters into a rich historical context. Grounded in the most recent research, attentive to Native American perspectives, and featuring a colorful cast of characters, Bloodshed at Little Bighorn elucidates the key lessons of the conflict and draws out the less visible ones. This may not be the last book you read on Little Bighorn, but it should be the first."
Tim Lehman is a professor of history at Rocky Mountain College and the author of Public Values, Private Lands: Federal Farmland Protection Policy, 1933–1985.