Watch a video
Read discussion questions for "The Last Stand."
The bestselling author of "Mayflower" sheds new light on one of the iconic stories of the American West
Little Bighorn and Custer are names synonymous in the American imagination with unmatched bravery and spectacular defeat. Mythologized as Custer's Last Stand, the June 1876 battle has been equated with other famous last stands, from the Spartans' defeat at Thermopylae to Davy Crockett at the Alamo.
In his tightly structured narrative, Nathaniel Philbrick brilliantly sketches the two larger-than-life antagonists: Sitting Bull, whose charisma and political savvy earned him the position of leader of the Plains Indians, and George Armstrong Custer, one of the Union's greatest cavalry officers and a man with a reputation for fearless and often reckless courage. Philbrick reminds readers that the Battle of the Little Bighorn was also, even in victory, the last stand for the Sioux and Cheyenne Indian nations. Increasingly outraged by the government's Indian policies, the Plains tribes allied themselves and held their ground in southern Montana. Within a few years of Little Bighorn, however, all the major tribal leaders would be confined to Indian reservations.
Throughout, Philbrick beautifully evokes the history and geography of the Great Plains with his characteristic grace and sense of drama. "The Last Stand" is a mesmerizing account of the archetypal story of the American West, one that continues to haunt our collective imagination.
After two short weeks under siege, the climactic battle of the Alamo lasted under an hour, but its aftermath spawned a legend. The Alamo: A Cultural History explores the transformation of the fort from its 1718 inception as a Franciscan mission to its current status as a tourist attraction, historical monument, and international symbol of freedom.
In this brilliant biography T. J. Stiles offers a new understanding of the legendary outlaw Jesse James. Although he has often been portrayed as a Robin Hood of the old west, in this ground-breaking work Stiles places James within the context of the bloody conflicts of the Civil War to reveal a much more complicated and significant figure.Raised in a fiercely pro-slavery household in bitterly divided Misssouri, at age sixteen James became a bushwhacker, one of the savage Confederate guerrillas that terrorized the border states. After the end of the war, James continued his campaign of robbery and murder into the brutal era of reconstruction, when his reckless daring, his partisan pronouncements, and his alliance with the sympathetic editor John Newman Edwards placed him squarely at the forefront of the former Confederates' bid to recapture political power. With meticulous research and vivid accounts of the dramatic adventures of the famous gunman, T. J. Stiles shows how he resembles not the apolitical hero of legend, but rather a figure ready to use violence to command attention for a political cause--in many ways, a forerunner of the modern terrorist.
The history of the American West is being transformed by exciting new ideas, new questions, new scholarship. For many years this field was dominated by popular images of the lone cowboy and the savage Indian, and by Frederick Jackson Turner's concept of the frontier as a steadily advancing source of democracy and social renewal. But now historians and even the merchants of popular culture are reshaping our views of the frontier and the West by taking up a rich array of new subjects, including the stories of diverse peoples as well as the history of the land itself. A new generation of scholars is reformulating the broader questions also: What was the significance of the frontier in American history? What are the bases of western identity? What themes connect the twentieth-century West to its more distant past? The transformation of western history continues to be an open-ended, turbulent process. The original essays in this volume are reports from the frontier of change. In their diverging assumptions and conclusions, they reflect the vitality of this field. They succeed when they make the case for new questions and suggest possible answers. They advocate no single agenda. But taken together they well represent the passion and high craft with which scholars are creating a new western history.
Sergeant Charles Windolph was the last white survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn when he described it nearly seventy years later. A six-year veteran of the Seventh Cavalry, Windolph fought in Benteen's troop on that fatal Sunday and recalls in vivid detail the battle that wiped out Custer's command. Equally vivid is the evidence marshaled by Frazier and Robert Hunt on events leading up to the battle and on the investigation that followed.
Purchase the audio edition.
The American West looms large in popular imagination-a place where men were rugged and independent, violent and courageous. In this mythic West all the men were white, and the women were largely absent. The few female actors played supporting roles around the edges of the drama. Molded by the Victorian Cult of True Womanhood, they were passive, dependent, reluctant, and out of place. Men won the West. Women, against their better judgement, followed them to this newly discovered place and tried to re-create the amenities of the urban East.
Or so the myth goes. The Women's West challenges this picture as racist, sexist, and romantic and rejects the customary emphasis of traditional western history on the nineteenth-century frontier, discovered and defined by Anglo men. In its place The Women's West begins the construction of a new western history as complex and varied as the people who lived it.
This collection of twenty-one articles creates a multidimensional portrait of western women. The pioneer women presented here were actors in their own lives, not passive participants in their husbands' ventures. They were hardy seekers who came west, sometimes alone, in search of jobs, freedom, or land to homestead. They were political activists who worked tirelessly to win the right to vote and to hold political office. They adapted in practical ways to their own and their families' economic and personal needs in a new environment.
One of the great works of American exploration literature, this account of a scientific expedition forced to survive famine, attacks, mutiny, and some of the most dangerous rapids known to man remains as fresh and exciting today as it was in 1874.The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons, recently ranked number four on Adventure magazine's list of top 100 classics, is legendary pioneer John Wesley Powell's first-person account of his crew's unprecedented odyssey along the Green and Colorado Rivers and through the Grand Canyon. A bold foray into the heart of the American West's final frontier, the expedition was achieved without benefit of modern river-running equipment, supplies, or a firm sense of the region's perilous topography and the attitudes of the native inhabitants towards whites. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
"An epic such as Mark Twain might have given us."--Henry Miller "The very best novel ever about the American West."--The New York Times Book Review "Spellbinding . . . Crabb] surely must be one of the most delightfully absurd fictional fossils ever unearthed."--Time "Superb . . . Berger's success in capturing the points of view and emotional atmosphere of a vanished era is uncanny. His skill in characterization, his narrative power and his somewhat cynical humor are all outstanding."--The New York Times
A myth-shattering look at the women who helped to settle the West, told through their own words and illustrated with 150 period photographs. This is American history, not as it was romanticized, but as it was lived. "An authentic, refreshing, and even inspiring view of life on the frontier."--San Francisco Chronicle. Illustrations.