Arts & Entertainment

Review: 'Custer' book explores short life of an Indian fighter






"Larry McMurtry calls his "Custer" a "short life," as opposed to a full-fledged biography or history, the advantage of the short form being that "plain speaking is usually required" from the author.

And it is plain speaking that McMurtry delivers in this modest addition to "Custerology," the same laconic, whimsical voice that makes his novels so entertaining and readable. The effect is as if one is sitting in a small lecture hall, listening as McMurtry tells his stories from a few notes in a rambling style, the account larded with asides but always returning to the central character, of whom it is often revealing and insightful as well as wry and funny.

The book, lavishly illustrated with more than 100 period photographs, paintings and sketches, is built in the usual McMurtry style, with chapters no more than two or three pages long, sometimes shorter than a single page. He frequently diverts to bits of trivia he finds fascinating -- Sitting Bull's obsession with Annie Oakley, for example, and Buffalo Bill Cody's killing of a Cheyenne warrior in Nebraska shortly after Custer and his men died at the Little Big Horn. Cody scalped the Indian, "the first scalp for Custer.""

Get the Story:
NONFICTION: "Custer," by Larry McMurtry (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 11/4)

Another Review:
McMurtry Attacks Custer (The Wall Street Journal 11/2)