Cloth $28.00 ISBN: 9780226201467 Published October 2007
Paper $16.00 ISBN: 9780226201474 Published October 2008
E-book $7.00 to $16.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226201481 Published August 2008

Custerology

The Enduring Legacy of the Indian Wars and George Armstrong Custer

Michael A. Elliott

Custerology
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Michael A. Elliott

344 pages | 16 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2007
Cloth $28.00 ISBN: 9780226201467 Published October 2007
Paper $16.00 ISBN: 9780226201474 Published October 2008
E-book $7.00 to $16.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226201481 Published August 2008
On a hot summer day in 1876, George Armstrong Custer led the Seventh Cavalry to the most famous defeat in U.S. military history. Outnumbered and exhausted, the Seventh Cavalry lost more than half of its 400 men, and every soldier under Custer’s direct command was killed.

It’s easy to understand why this tremendous defeat shocked the American public at the time. But with Custerology, Michael A. Elliott tackles the far more complicated question of why the battle still haunts the American imagination today. Weaving vivid historical accounts of Custer at Little Bighorn with contemporary commemorations that range from battle reenactments to the unfinished Crazy Horse memorial, Elliott reveals a Custer and a West whose legacies are still vigorously contested. He takes readers to each of the important places of Custer’s life, from his Civil War home in Michigan to the site of his famous demise, and introduces us to Native American activists, Park Service rangers, and devoted history buffs along the way.  Elliott shows how Custer and the Indian Wars continue to be both a powerful symbol of America’s bloody past and a crucial key to understanding the nation’s multicultural present.
 
“[Elliott] is an approachable guide as he takes readers to battlefields where Custer fought American Indians . . . to the Michigan town of Monroe that Custer called home after he moved there at age 10 . . . to the Black Hills of South Dakota where Custer led an expedition that gave birth to a gold rush."—Steve Weinberg, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 
“By ‘Custerology,’ Elliott means the historical interpretation and commemoration of Custer and the Indian Wars in which he fought not only by those who honor Custer but by those who celebrate the Native American resistance that defeated him. The purpose of this book is to show how Custer and the Little Bighorn can be and have been commemorated for such contradictory purposes.”—Library Journal
 
“Michael Elliott’s Custerology is vivid, trenchant, engrossing, and important. The American soldier George Armstrong Custer has been the subject of very nearly incessant debate for almost a century and a half, and the debate is multicultural, multinational, and multimedia. Mr. Elliott's book provides by far the best overview, and no one interested in the long-haired soldier whom the Indians called Son of the Morning Star can afford to miss it.”—Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry
“Michael Elliott’s Custerology is vivid, trenchant, engrossing, and important. The American soldier George Armstrong Custer has been the subject of very nearly incessant debate for almost a century and a half, and the debate is multicultural, multinational, and multimedia. Mr. Elliott's book provides by far the best overview, and no one interested in the long-haired soldier whom the Indians called Son of the Morning Star can afford to miss it.”
Louise Barnett, author of Touched by Fire: The Life, Death, and Mythic Afterlife of George Armstrong Custer

“Michael Elliott has invented the excellent term ‘Custerology’ to describe an intriguing cultural phenomenon—the ever-enduring interest in George Armstrong Custer. His book examines its manifestations with insight and authority. Custerology is a fascinating and valuable book that reveals its author’s generous sympathy and illuminating intelligence on every page.”

Robert Utley, author of Custer and Me: A Historian’s Memoir
“That any writer could find a fresh approach to George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn is a phenomenon. Yet Michael Elliott presents a fresh approach by relating the public obsession that has flourished for 131 years to its continuing resonance in the present and, almost certainly, the future. Custerology will not only be essential reading for aficionados, but compelling for lay readers as well.”
Nathaniel Philbrick, author of Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War
“Michael Elliott’s Custerology is a fascinating combination of meticulous scholarship, probing journalistic observation, and blessedly open-minded analysis. This is a book that says as much about America—in all its stunning and complex diversity—as it does about George Armstrong Custer and the battle that made him a national icon.”—Nathaniel Philbrick, author of Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War
Library Journal

"By 'Custerology,' Elliott means the historical interpretation and commemoration of Custer and the Indian Wars in which he fought not only by those who honor Custer but by those who celebrate the Native American resistance that defeated him. This is not a history or biography of Custer. The purpose of this book is to show how Custer and the Little Bighorn can be and have been commemorated for such contradictory purposes. Elliott accomplishes his task primarily by looking at particular current instances of public history associated with Custer battlefields, museums, and reenactments, although he does mention some books and films. Also running through the book is the question of whether any commemoration of Custer and the Indian Wars is still relevant in the multicultural world of the 21st century. Elliott argues that it is. Not for the uninitiated, this complex and multilayered work is best suited for upper-division undergraduates and above and for others who are interested in the meaning and significance of Custer in today's world."

Larry McMurtry | New York Review of Books
"The three best books about Custer and the Little Bighorn are Evan S. Connell's Son of the Morning Star (1984), the relevant chapters in Richard Slotkin's The Fatal Environment . . . and Custerology, the book currently under review."
R. Eli Paul | Western Historical Quarterly
"A fascinating travelogue, one comparable in size , scale, and significance to Ian Frazier's Great Plains."
Shari M. Huhndorf | American Historical Review
"An engaging, meticulously researched, and well-argued study, Elliott's book makes a significant contribtion to the voluminous literature on Custer and the Indian Wars. In addition to its attention to the social significance of popular representations of Custer, the book is notable for its sustained, complex engagement with indiginous perspectives and politics."
Gregory J. W. Urwin | On Point
"Custerology succeeds as a meditation on the meaning of history. Elliott draws on both personal experience and a sure command of the vast Custer canon to describe why society latches onto certain aspects of the past and uses them to comprehend the present and alter the future. Anyone interested in why certain soldiers are remembered and others lie forgotten will find much food for thought in these pages."
Contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction
1 Ghost Dancing on Last Stand Hill: Crow Agency, Montana
2 Being Custer: Monroe, Michigan
3 Lives on the Plains: Cheyenne, Oklahoma
4 Into the Black Hills: Rapid City, South Dakota
5 Testimony in Translation: The Library
6 Little Bighorn Forever: Hardin, Montana • Garryowen, Montana
Epilogue: Indian Country
Acknowledgments
Notes
Works Cited
Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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