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Son of the Morning Star (1984)

de Evan S. Connell

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1,1401613,439 (4.21)68
Custer's Last Stand is among the most enduring events in American history--more than one hundred years after the fact, books continue to be written and people continue to argue about even the most basic details surrounding the Little Bighorn. Evan S. Connell, whom Joyce Carol Oates has described as "one of our most interesting and intelligent American writers," wrote what continues to be the most reliable--and compulsively readable--account of the subject. Connell makes good use of his meticulous research and novelist's eye for the story and detail to re-vreate the heroism, foolishness, and savagery of this crucial chapter in the history of the West.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 16 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
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  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
What a slog. Incredibly researched and some memorable parts but the print size in my edition was small and it felt like a long high school assignment. ( )
  shaundeane | Sep 13, 2020 |
My book group is reading Mrs. Bridge which is just an amazing perfect little book. and while I am re-reading it for the group I am also casting eyes on my favorite book of all time, Evan S. Connells Son of the Morning Star.

This is the book that takes the deepest dive imaginable into the Custer Battle, the Battle of Little Big Horn, where 300 plus US Calvary faced off against perhaps 3000 plus hostile Indians.

It's an important moment in American History so for that alone its a lovely little book.

But it's also a quiet little meditation on America at the turn of the Century, frontier washerwomen, hard scrabble "journalists", Indians, dogs, horses and just about everything else too.

Connell takes each chapter and seizes on a thread - Custer, or Mrs. Custer, or Reno, or Benteen, or Sitting Bull. and then tells you everything you wanted to know about them and how they relate to the big event. You might think this is uninteresting. Actually its deeply fascinating and engaging.

If you want to know if Sitting Bull ever went to West Point (he didn't) or if Custer took an Indian woman as his "forest wife" (he did) this is the book for you.

"Son of the Morning Star" was the name that the Indians gave to Custer. Curiously it's also one of the names given to Sitting Bull.

Just lovely wonderful elegant writing about people and history and America. How we got from there to here.

My favorite book ever. Not kidding. ( )
  magicians_nephew | Jan 2, 2019 |
We will never know - greatly enjoyed this attempt. An older type of narrative history, not sure anyone would attempt to write it today. ( )
  kcshankd | Sep 26, 2018 |
Okay, admit it, most people's eyes glaze over at the thought of a history book. Even people like me, who like reading history books, have to admit that too many works of history can be a heavy slog to get through. I mean, it actually feels like working to read some histories.

Because of this, I have tremendous respect for any author who, like this one, can write a history book that is both hard to put down, and conveys an enormous amount of solidly researched information, and then leaves you with a picture in your mind of a different place and time than the one you live in, or perhaps just a different time, which might as well be a different place.

Layers and layers of mythology have accumulated like so much sediment over the story of George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. It is one example of the mythologizing of the entire Old West, such that many people think they have a feel for the period, but in fact have a distorted view. People of a certain age, like myself, grew up when Westerns were still a dominant American movie and TV genre. They were not meant to be documentaries, of course, but these Hollywood spectacles have infected our whole American culture (and that of the world beyond), with a romanticized version of the Old West.

This book is a not at all romanticized telling of one of the last of the Indian Wars, in all its complexity and brutality, with all its ironies and surprising facts. This also requires telling a lot of other stories: the life and military career of Custer; the sad postwar fate of another less famous US officer who survived the campaign, the many different accounts of the campaign and battle gathered from the Cheyenne, Lakota, Dakota, and Arapaho who defeated Custer's force. Through all these stories, a picture emerges of a whole era of US culture, as well as an era of Plains Indian cultures, as well as of many individuals.

Surprises abound. According to Indian accounts, they of course knew of the US cavalry's approach long before the battle. They were still surprised by the attack, though, because they assumed the smaller force was coming to talk to them. And they were ready to go to the reservation, if asked! They had no idea who Custer was, by the way. A substantial unit of the US force was near Custer's detachment, but did not know exactly what was happening when the battle occurred. They were engaged by the Indians as well, and spent a long night expecting to be overrun and killed. But the Indians did not actually want to destroy them, so they did not.

Then there are the facts that are not so surprising if you take the time to think about them, but are nonetheless hard to fathom. For example, some of the Indians present at the battle were still alive in the 1950s. Because of the mythology of the "Old West", we find that kind of continuity with post-World-War-II America startling.

I actually read this book several years ago, and I haven't consulted it since. I mention this because this book stayed with me. I can still recall vividly some of the scenes and people described in it. Also, I much appreciated the author's objectivity. It comes through pretty clearly that he didn't think much of Custer, but this emerges mainly through the telling of actual incidents in the man's life.

Especially notable to me was that he didn't render the Plains Indians as some sort of unknowable, exotic people, different than us normal (i.e. white) people, you see. Yes, he carefully describes a lot of distinctive aspects of the Indians' cultures and traditions, but the individuals he writes about are always fully imaginable as the same sort of people that inhabit the rest of the world. That is, he writes about all the people in this book as individuals, who fit within their own time and place as much as anyone else. ( )
  RichardAmerman | Jun 28, 2018 |
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Custer's Last Stand is among the most enduring events in American history--more than one hundred years after the fact, books continue to be written and people continue to argue about even the most basic details surrounding the Little Bighorn. Evan S. Connell, whom Joyce Carol Oates has described as "one of our most interesting and intelligent American writers," wrote what continues to be the most reliable--and compulsively readable--account of the subject. Connell makes good use of his meticulous research and novelist's eye for the story and detail to re-vreate the heroism, foolishness, and savagery of this crucial chapter in the history of the West.

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