THE LAST STAND by Edwin P. Hoyt


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 Military historian Hoyt (Angels of Death, 1994, etc.) joins a long list of writers who've set out to explain exactly what happened at the Little Bighorn (for the most recent, see Earl Murray's Flaming Sky, p. 804), but his own account improves on none in either particulars or perspective. On June 25, 1876, Brevet General George Armstrong Custer and the 7th US Cavalry attacked a large encampment of Sioux and Cheyenne on the Little Bighorn River and were wiped out to a man. And though no eyewitness left any substantiated account, the event became the centerpiece of hundreds of examinations in print and film. Hoyt's version of the story is particularly mundane and even occasionally silly, running through the well-worn facts leading up to the military debacle, then tossing in a fanciful account of Custer's personal demise at the hands of a warrior named ``Big Muskrat.'' Writing more in the manner of a technical report with dialogue than of a novel or even ``novelization,'' Hoyt sprinkles military reports throughout for authenticity, but the dialogue exchanges seem like parody or material for a Saturday Night Live sketch. One running joke, for example, is Grant's and others' irritation that subordinates consistently use Custer's brevet ranknot exactly great comic material. Meanwhile, Grant comes off as an irascible but wise old man; Sherman and Sheridan sound like petulant fraternity boys. Hoyt concludes with a pedantic and generally incorrect assessment of the US government's Native American policies in the form of a ``historical note.'' Adequately researched, but pretentious and poorly presented, unworthy of its subject and of Hoyt's reputation.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-85533-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1995


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