Custer's Last Stand Critical Context - Essay

Quentin J. Reynolds

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Custer’s Last Stand may justifiably be called a classic book for young readers who are interested in American history. The Battle of the Little Bighorn is one of the best-known, most-talked-about, and thoroughly analyzed campaigns in American military history. The book makes readers ask why Custer went into battle when his forces were so vastly outnumbered and why he disobeyed orders and attacked before he had joined the rest of the Seventh Cavalry units. These questions continue to be disputed, and the debates continue to rage. Nevertheless, Reynolds is not interested in analyzing contradictory opinions or in giving direct answers to the kinds of detailed questions for which concrete responses are often illusive.

It is obvious that the author is a storyteller, and he tells the story of Custer’s last battle in uncomplicated language. More important, however, he also provides significant biographical background information on Custer, which helps the young reader or budding historian to understand something of how and why the United States’ most famous Indian fighter met his fate at the Little Bighorn River on June 25, 1876.

Custer’s Last Stand is an important starting point for acquiring information on the man and the battle, and the book succeeds in portraying Custer as a real person.