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Extended Audio Sample Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America, by T. J. Stiles Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: T. J. Stiles Narrator: Arthur Morey Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, a brilliant new biography of Gen. George Armstrong Custer that radically changes our view of the man and his turbulent times.

In this magisterial biography, T. J. Stiles paints a portrait of Custer both deeply personal and sweeping in scope, proving how much of Custer’s legacy has been ignored. He demolishes Custer’s historical caricature, revealing a volatile, contradictory, intense person—capable yet insecure, intelligent yet bigoted, passionate yet self-destructive, a romantic individualist at odds with the institution of the military (he was court-martialed twice in six years).

The key to understanding Custer, Stiles writes, is keeping in mind that he lived on a frontier in time. In the Civil War, the West, and many areas overlooked in previous biographies, Custer helped to create modern America, but he could never adapt to it. He freed countless slaves yet rejected new civil rights laws. He proved his heroism but missed the dark reality of war for so many others. A talented combat leader, he struggled as a manager in the West.

He tried to make a fortune on Wall Street yet never connected with the new corporate economy. Native Americans fascinated him, but he could not see them as fully human. A popular writer, he remained apart from Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, and other rising intellectuals. During Custer’s lifetime, Americans saw their world remade. His admirers saw him as the embodiment of the nation’s gallant youth, of all that they were losing; his detractors despised him for resisting a more complex and promising future. Intimate, dramatic, and provocative, this biography captures the larger story of the changing nation in Custer’s tumultuous marriage to his highly educated wife, Libbie; their complicated relationship with Eliza Brown, the forceful black woman who ran their household; as well as his battles and expeditions. It casts surprising new light on a near-mythic American figure, a man both widely known and little understood.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “In this definitive reconsideration of an icon, Stiles reminds us why Custer remains such a fascinating fixture in our national consciousness: To understand Custer is to understand a significant sequence in the American DNA.”

    Hampton Sides, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Custer represents something to each of us…but he was flesh and blood, and he lived a real life that was buoyed by ambition and hope and riddled with contradictions. T. J. Stiles’ writing and research is as much hero here as Custer, and it sets this biography apart from so many others.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “Confidently presenting Custer in all his contradictions, Stiles examines the times to make sense of the man—and uses the man to shed light on the times.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “[A] powerful, provocative biography of George Armstrong Custer…emphasizing the dynamism of Custer’s life and times, rather than portraying him as on a slow march toward defeat…A highly recommended biography that successfully illuminates…the changing patterns of American society

    Library Journal

  • “Stiles…[brings] meticulous research and vivid narrative style to this reappraisal of a mythic American figure.”


  • “A warts-and-all portrait…Stiles digs deep to deliver genuine insight into a man who never adapted to modernity.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A BookPage Top Pick for November 2015
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for November 2015
  • A #1 Amazon Bestseller
  • A 2015 Amazon Best Books of the Year Selection for History
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for History
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