Book Review: Remember Little Bighorn

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

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The latest Remember book from National Geographic focuses on Little Bighorn, the massive American–Native American battle that ended the life of George Armstrong Custer, among other things.

Ostensibly, this is a history of the events before, during, and after what is often termed a massacre. More than just facts, however, the narrative is sprinkled throughout with quotes from many of the main participants. Drawing from journal and diary entries and live interviews, the author interweaves these testimonies in among the narrative, bringing to life a part of history that many Americans understand only on the surface. Among the luminaries sharing their experiences are Black Elk, cousin of Crazy Horse and an important Oglala Sioux leader in his own right; Major Marcus Reno, a prime mover in the Custer wing of attacks, including a devastating attack on a Native American village; Red Feather, brother-in-law of Crazy Horse; and Lieutenant Charles Varnum, in charge of Custer's scouts.

The book does an excellent job of setting the scene on the Plains leading up to the battle, with expectations on both sides of the struggle giving way to what seemed unavoidable: armed conflict.

The result is a straightforward presentation with lots of fascinating details. This book is not as flashy as its two predecessors, Remember Pearl Harbor and Remember D-Day, but it works all the same.

The epilogue timeline set (with detailed maps included) is massively impressive, showcasing not only events in the Battle of Little Bighorn but also a huge array of other battles, treaties, and other key events. Alongside this fascinating set of timelines is a map of present-day reservations. All of this puts the Custer debacle in proper perspective and shows the wider world of American–Native American relations, both conflict-oriented and not.

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