Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Custer’s Last Stand is the story of George Armstrong Custer from the time that he was four years old and living in New Rumley, Ohio, to his death in battle against Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull near the Little Bighorn River. The title of the book is somewhat deceptive because only a part of it actually deals with Custer’s last heroic stand. What Quentin J. Reynolds has done is to tell, in very personal terms, how Custer saw his boyhood dreams come true. He not only became the youngest general in the army during the Civil War but also gained fame as a brave Indian fighter.

The book’s twenty short chapters are arranged chronologically. Much space is devoted to describing the growing-up years of young Autie (Custer’s lifelong nickname), his father’s encouragement and influence upon him, and his hard work at two preparatory schools in hopes of entering the United States military academy at West Point, New York. Attending these schools away from home caused Autie quickly to become a self-sufficient young man. Reynolds describes both the procedure that Custer followed to gain entrance to West Point and the life of a cadet at the military academy.

Although Custer’s meteoric rise to the rank of general came as a result of his distinguished action during the Civil War, only two specific battles, the First Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Gettysburg, are mentioned. Enough of his deeds under fire are described, however, to give...

(The entire section is 519 words.)