Wed August 25, 2010
"Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn" (Encore presentation.)
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – (Please note: This show originally aired earlier this year.) On our show today, we present an interesting discussion with the bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick, whose new book is called "The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn." Known to many readers for his fine account of the pilgrims' journey to Plymouth Rock --- as told in "Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War" (2006) --- Philbrick won the National Book Award for Nonfiction for "In the Heart of the Sea" (2000). One appreciative critic, writing for Library Journal, noted of "The Last Stand" when it was initially published: "After 2006's eye-opening account of the fanatical Pilgrims in 'Mayflower,' Philbrick tackles another American legend. Neither the golden-haired general nor the Indian chief here is the bloodthirsty war-monger often portrayed in other accounts. Both are top soldiers and natural leaders zealously looking out for their respective peoples' interests. There have been so many contrasting accounts from both sides over the years that it's difficult to get a truthful picture of what transpired on June 25, 1876, along the banks of the Little Bighorn River. There was also such infighting and backstabbing among Custer's senior officers that even their accounts are highly suspect. Philbrick therefore incorporates multiple perspectives for a very round portrait of events. Custer's fatal errors were in divvying up his already meager lot of mostly inexperienced troops into smaller units for a multi-angled attack and launching an assault without first appraising the behemoth enemy force. . . . More than a detailed chronology of events --- at which it excels --- this book is an in-depth portrait of the two combatants --- it's Sitting Bull's story as much as Custer's. Both shared tragic and triumphant lives indelibly woven into the fabric of American lore. Philbrick humanizes history, not only putting a recognizable face on the players in one of our nation's most notorious events but also providing insight into their hearts and minds."