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Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors [Paperback]

Stephen E. Ambrose
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1986
On June 25, 1876, 611 men of the United States 7th Cavalry rode towards the banks of the Little Bighorn where three thousand Indians stood waiting for battle. The lives of two great war leaders would soon become forever linked: Crazy Horse, leader of the Oglala Sioux, and General George Armstrong Custer. This masterly dual biography tells the epic story of the lives of these two men: both were fighters of legendary daring, both became honoured leaders in their societies when still astonishingly young, and both died when close to the supreme political heights. Yet they - like the nations they represented - were as different as day and night. Custer had won his spurs in the American Civil War; his watchword was 'To promotion - or death!' and his restless ambition characterized a white nation in search of expansion and progress. Crazy Horse fought for a nomadic way of life fast yielding before the buffalo-hunters and the incursions of the white man. The Great Plains of North America provided the stage - and the prize.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Military historian Ambrose examines the connections between the Indian chief and the cavalry officer who fought at Little Bighorn.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"Movingly told and well written . . . a fine contribution, one that will be read with pleasure and admiration by general reader, student and scholar alike. Ambrose has breathed new life into the familiar facts."--"Library Journal" "An epic and accurate retelling of one of our country's most tragic periods."--"Baltimore Sun" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars American Warriors May 26 2004
By A Customer
In Crazy Horse and Custer the Parallel Lives Of Two American Warriors, Ambrose does a very good job of telling the life stories of the two warriors. He also makes this book very readable. He does not just state the information he really tells the story of the two men.
It starts on the plains of Nebraska. Ambrose writes about the Native American lifestyle and you can begin to see why our culture and theirs clashed so much. Then he talks of the culture in the United States during the 1800's. After that Ambrose begins to tell of the two warriors during their childhood, and then each of their separate journeys to manhood.
Ambrose keeps the readers interested throughout the whole book by going into great and gruesome details about the battles that each Crazy Horse and Custer had been involved in. The climax of the book was the Battle for Little Big Horn. I just could not put down the book he started out describing the battle by stating the mistakes that Custer had made, such as underestimating the power of the Native American forces. Then Amborse explains where Custer was and where Crazy Horse was and how Custer was caught on his flank by Crazy Horse. This book really made the history of Crazy Horse and Custer come alive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heroes on the open prairie in 1876 Jan. 17 2004
The story of Crazy Horse and Custer is the story of two men, two societies and two ways of life. The story of the Sioux and those who tried to destroy them.
And when Ambrose tells the story you really get the feeling that this is all about us today. How we became who we are.
When Custer looked on a virgin forest, he envisioned sawmills, houses being build etc. Custer believed in progress, in the doctrine that things are going to be better.
Crazy Horse on the other hand saw the trees as they were at that moment. He lived in that moment. For Custer events marched forward, onward and upward. For Crazy Horse things were done because thats the way they had always been done.
Indeed, the European thought that a man should and could improve his station in life would have made little sense to Crazy Horse.
Ambrose lets us know that Custer might have been a buffoon, but he died for the thing called progress, the thing we, whites, also believes in.
Along the way we also get to know Crazy Horse, his love for Black Buffalo Women and his people, the Sioux. And it does seem just that Crazy Horse could outnumber and outmaneuver Custer on what is now Custers hill.
One final indian victory before the end.
An epic story where every little detail Stephen Ambrose tells us just makes us want more. A brilliant book!
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This is simply the best history book I have read in years. If you like American history you will like this book. If you like history and have visited Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument in South Dakota, you will probably love this book. If you like Native American history and/or happen to be a Civil War buff, you will treasure this book and not want it to end.
Stephen Ambrose was a marvelous historian. He told real life stories with the skill of a master fiction writer. His characters are gripping, quixotic and often of enviable character. This was the case with Crazy Horse and Custer.
If you want to learn about what it was like to live as a Native American on the high plains in the 19th century, this book is for you. If you want to know what it was like to be a U.S. soldier during or after the Civil War, this book is for you. If you want to read a story about valor, integrity, dignity, tragedy and pain, this book is for you. The story of "how the West was won" is sad and heartbreaking at times. But so is life, and so is much of the history of history of the United States. Life, like history, can also be extremely exciting and adventursome. In this book, Ambrose brings both Crazy Horse and Custer back to life so that we may live their adventures with them as they make history.
Ambrose is exceptionally fair in his analysisof both men. He is partial to both the Native Americans and the U.S. soldiers who often brutalized them. He paints a picture that is, by all accounts, historically accurate and incredibly interesting. Ambrose makes it possible to see the good and bad in both Crazy Horse and Custer. He shows their strengths and weaknesses, allowing readere to draw their own conclusions about the nature of their conflict.
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Among Stephen Ambrose's earlier work was this effort, a study of the Western history he enjoyed greatly. The lives of Custer and Crazy Horse are compared throughout the book, noting their seemingly parallel lives to reach the ultimate clash that was the Little Big Horn battle. Crazy Horse was a sharp contrast to the flamboyant Custer, and their ultimate fates were also impossible to predict in their early days.
Throughout the book, the issues that shaped Western growth and expansion are addressed, as are their effects on the lives of these two men. There is a short section that follows the climactic battle, deatiling what happened after Little Big Horn for many of the people described in the book at one point or another.
A reader expecting another book similar to one of his World War II efforts might be disappointed, but it should be remembered that Ambrose didn't have veterans to discuss experiences with- only records and long-dated transcripts. As such, this is a much more difficult book to write, which should be taken into consideration. However, the book is not as well-written as the World War II books, which obviously benefitted from earlier writing experiences such as this. Overall, the book will teach you a lot about the Western settlement and its effects, and especially about two famous Americans that inevitably will be linked for all of history.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Custer
Very interersting book about the blind luck that Custer had in life that failed him in the end. Interesting points about the life style of Native Americans. Read more
Published on April 3 2004 by Jeff Sartain
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't Put Down
Wonderful depiction of the parallel lives of two legendary western figures. Loved it from beginning to tragic end.
Published on Nov. 5 2003 by tstroeb
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Tragedy
Historical writing doesn't get much better than this.
In parallel chapters, Ambrose presents the story of these two warriors, from their births to their final tragic meeting... Read more
Published on Dec 8 2002 by Therese Yeaton
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites
I enjoyed Ambrose's approach of following the lives of natural leaders in different cultures. It was interesting the see how each culture, Americans in the late 1800s and American... Read more
Published on Dec 15 2001 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling history, a really good read
Crazy Horse and George Custer were leaders. They led by example, they led by acclamation, and they led driven by a desire to shape the future of their people. Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2001 by Terp Allan
5.0 out of 5 stars
Guided by pure facts, spirited by the truth, Stephen Ambrose rises among all other authers with regard to this most important time in our countries history. Read more
Published on April 1 2001 by Steven M Shields
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Intro to the Topic, From a Beginner
I got this book as a gift and I just finished it recently. I have to say I loved the book...a lot. Before this book, I had absolutely no knowledge of this history and now I find... Read more
Published on Feb. 17 2001 by Norm Zurawski
4.0 out of 5 stars Reveals a blind spot
It's been years since I read this book, but it has stayed with me. Beyond resparking an interest in American frontier history that began in childhood, it also gave me a much more... Read more
Published on Oct. 11 2000 by John
2.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to the period, but not much else of value here
Stephen Ambrose is an amazingly prolific writer of history. I cannot speak about his other books, as I have not read them. Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2000 by LaLoren
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