Monday, July 28, 2008

{Review} The Court Martial of General George Armstrong Custer by Lawrence A. Jones

This is a novel that is chock fill of real historic detail, valid suppositions and great storytelling. The author is a military lawyer and so the account of the court-martial is detailed and convincing. The basis of the story is simple; suppose Custer had survived Little Big Horn? The book is not some overblown action story or historical romance. It is, as accurately as the author can surmise, what the subsequent court-martial of Custer would have been like. But it is not a dry supposition; Jones does a marvelous job in making his players interesting, memorable but completely in character. His protagonist is the chief prosecutor for the army and we see most of the story through his eyes, but we also are witness to events taking place from out West to the White House.

We listen in rapt attention to the testimony of Generals Terry and Crook, who led the expedition, explain how Custer exceeded his orders, and to Benteen and Reno as they retell the battle. There are other witnesses as well, but much is also going on behind the scenes as the government wrestles with conflicting goals; punish the man who brought such disaster on the army, but also defend the military actions of his superiors and the leaders back in Washington.

Jones also does a fantastic job in setting the scene. The court-martial is held in New York City in the late 1870s and Jones adds authenticity and atmosphere when we leave the courtroom to go to eat at Delmonico's or tour down Fifth Avenue.

I happily recommend this book to those who like their historic fiction with more emphasis on the history and also those who might be interested in learning more about the Battle of Little Bighorn and the political and military actions and discussions leading up to the battle and subsequent to it.

Link to LibraryThing entry for this book

No comments: