ONCE UPON THE LITTLE BIG HORN by Evelyn Sibley Lampman


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The four days surrounding Custer's last stand are detailed in chapters that alternate between the waiting Sioux, confident of victory because of Sitting Bull's vision, and the approaching soldiers, disturbed by the Indians' numbers but driven on by their overconfident general. The incidents are historically accurate but the devices of fiction are used to present them, so that background information is conveyed by means of staged reminiscences and the opening scene has Sitting Bull resting in the shade of hanging buffalo hides wishing ""that tonight's social dances had not required that he don his full regalia."" None of the artifice achieves the convincing immediacy of the Gobles' handsomely illustrated Red Hawk's Account of Custer's Last Battle (1970, p. 879, J-335), which manages also (in far fewer words) to suggest more of the mythic significance of the battle. And though Lampman supplies more of the literal details, especially those surrounding the soildiers' preparations, she never mentions such relevant contingencies as Custer's likely presidential ambitions, as does Heuman's Custer, Man and Legend (1968).

Pub Date: June 21st, 1971
Publisher: T.Y. Crowell