There's new and vigorous material here for a first rate historical novel but as a novel it never quite comes into focus. The central theme revolves around the Twentieth Cavalry under General Tuthill and the Indian wars culminating in the massacre of Little Bighorn (presumably based on Custer and his famous ""last stand""). If such is the fact behind the fiction, the final shreds of glamour and martyrdom are torn from a figure that emerges as a vainglorious, arrogant egotist, more anxious for personal glory than for the men he led. One individual after another emerges-officers, non-coms and soldiers- through flashbacks that give one a sense of a pattern of American life of those days. But the method of telling the story, shifting as it does from person to person, from present to past and back to present, demands concentration to bring the threads together. Hoffman fails, somehow, to do this for his readers, in part because he puts fidelity to his source material ahead of the challenge of his story. But as a portrait of the U.S. army of those days- some 75 years ago- and of the approach to the ""hostiles""- (""the only good Indian is a dead Indian"")- this makes an important contribution. In the stream of popularity of Civil War books, this takes a step ahead to our next period.