George Armstrong Custer had a massive reputation long before his ""last stand"" against the Sioux in 1876. Right out of West Point, before two years were to pass he was a brigadier general in the Union Army at the age of twenty-three--the youngest that the war was to produce. Dressed like a popinjay--hair to his shoulder, slouch hat, velveteen trousers, scarlet neck sash--but with saber raised high, he led his Michigan cavalry troop into some of the most important engagements of the Civil War, heading a charge at Gettysburg and bearing his troop's colors at the surrender at Appomattox. By the end of the struggle, Custer was a legendary figure and a major-general. This moderate-sized and highly readable biography traces Custer's career from his youthful determination to enter West Point, through his time at the military academy, and his wartime role as one of the North's most dashing figures. A tempestuous and gallant soldier, a man who stirred controversy all his career and incurred lifetime loyalties as well as the execrations of those who knew him best, Custer is an intriguing minor figure in America's past history. Rather than a serious biography, this book is more an adventure story that entertains than a disciplined inquiry into the nature of its subject.