An admiring, fast-paced, thoroughly readable account of Custer at war.

Before he became the most famous man in America, George Armstrong Custer was…only moderately famous.

By the end of the Civil War, very few cavalry commanders’ reputations stood higher than Custer’s. From First Bull Run, where he was cited for bravery, to Appomattox, where he observed Robert E. Lee’s surrender, Custer enjoyed a glittering war, distinguishing himself in battle and earning the love of his troops and the adulation of the public. Hatch (The Last Outlaws: The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 2013, etc.) offers a bit about Custer’s boyhood and more about his West Point years, where the prank-loving youth famously piled up demerits and endeared himself to fellow cadets, but the author mostly focuses on the battlefield exploits and Custer’s wartime, tortuous courtship of Libbie Bacon. He won the woman (she remained devoted to polishing his reputation until her death in 1933) and did as much as any Union officer to win the war. In his gold-looped, velveteen jacket and red tie, with his long hair flowing from under his soft hat, Custer’s flamboyance was exceeded only by his bravery, demonstrated at places like Williamsburg, Gettysburg and Culpeper. He had mounts shot out from under him, received wounds and appeared on the cover of Harper’s Weekly. His horsemanship, stamina, intuitive grasp of cavalry tactics, talent for sensing the enemy’s weakness and propensity to lead from the front impressed his superiors and accounted for his astonishing rise through the ranks. By 23, he was the youngest general in the Union army; by war’s end, a genuine national hero. Still ahead lay Little Bighorn and his curious transmutation in history from hero to martyr to object lesson to object of ridicule.

An admiring, fast-paced, thoroughly readable account of Custer at war.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-02850-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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