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Red Sabbath: The Battle of Little Bighorn [Paperback]

Robert Kershaw
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Jun 2008
There are few battles in the sometimes bloody history of the expansion of the United States in North American during the Indian Wars that are more famous than Little Bighorn. The romantic view of Custer's last stand against marauding hordes of Indians has achieved iconic status but the reality was somewhat different, as recent research has shown. The Battle of Little Bighorn was the culmination of a process of attrition between the Native Americans and European settlers. On 25 June 1876 this clash of cultures was settled by force of arms as the 7th Cavalry under Custer came upon a huge Indian camp by the Little Bighorn River. The resulting battle was the stuff of legends, but legends based on misconception and hearsay no members of the 7th Cavalry survived to tell their tale and the Indians recorded their triumph in pictographs and oral memory, long undeciphered by historians. In Red Sabbath, military historian Robert Kershaw analyses the causes of Custer's defeat from the standpoint of a professional soldier, and examines the multitude of factors that lay behind this setback of a modern US Army's campaign against an unsophisticated foe. Bringing a forensic examination to the subject, this new view of the battle will be required reading for all those with an interst in the military history of the USA and of the career of that most famous of historical figures, General Custer. Drawing evidence from a wide range of sources, including contemporary reports of the battle, personal analysis of the battlefield and the most recent archaeological investigations, Kershaw explores the background to the battle and its results. His analysis debunks many of the myths about Custer's abilities as a military commander and previous generalisations of this savage encounter, providing a unique insight into the Battle of Little Bighorn.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Ian Allan Ltd (5 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0711033250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0711033252
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 270,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Robert Kershaw joined the Parachute Regiment in 1972 after graduating in History at Reading University, reaching the rank of Colonel. In between Regimental service he attended the Fuhrungsakademie - the German Staff College - at Hamburg and later spent a number of years with NATO and the Bundeswehr. He has seen active service during a number of tours of Northern Ireland, with the US VII Corps during the Gulf War and in Bosnia.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Red Sabbath. 9 April 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A steady,easy-to-read account of a battle much given over to interpretation and opinion.The writer is careful to avoid being too obviously pro or anti Custer,Reno or Benteen.He takes note of the discoveries after the grassfires of 1983 and gives a logical description of what probably happened.He is certainly right that the tactical handling of the cavalry was initially plagued by false conclusions which were magnified at each subsequent stage of the battle.Custer got it wrong,
the indians did not.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book on the Little Big Horn 7 April 2009
By Kentspur VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Robert Kershaw, a British Army Officer, has managed to deliver the definitive work on one of the most iconic battles of American history.

This is a superb examination of the Battle of Little Big Horn which is not lost in Custer bashing or Sioux glorification.

Kershaw's perspective is as a fighting soldier. He examines each decision made by the Seventh Cavalry as a military tactician - whether it makes sense considering the information in front of the commanders, whether it was sensible or mis-guided. This point of view puts you right at the heart of the action - from the first contact to the frantic last few minutes.

But this is not dry, military college tactics analysis; Kershaw never forgets these are men - fighting and dying - and contains a wealth of detail on their lives, motivations, prejudices.

In short, the best book on Little Big Horn - cool, clinical and engaging.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Military Hubris Humbled 21 Aug 2011
By BobH
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent study by Robert Kershaw of the destruction of Custer's force at the Little Big Horn in 1876 shows the consequences of under-estimating the enemy. It rests on deep research, careful analysis and is well-written. It smashes the mythology which has underlain Hollywood treatment of the battle and produced the cliche of the 7th cavalry riding to the rescue!

George Armstrong Custer's Civil War reputation was the product of luck, panache,ambition and self-confidence. Fighting a different enemy under different conditions made such quallities lead to disaster.

It's a sad tale of a general pushing his troops beyond reason in search of glory - exhaustion, hunger, thirst, lack of intelligence of terrain or enemy numbers and tactical naivety. Custer divided his 7th cavalry force into units which lost touch with each other due to the unexplored terrain. He took on an enemy outnumbering his total force in a manner which drastically increased the odds. He expected the enemy to run at the first sign of danger: they fought back with firepower exceeding his own, morale surpassing that of his force and physically better able to tackle such a chaotic fight. The fate of individual troopers is described in horrific detail - much based on archaeological evidence. Custer proved his own worst enemy - waiting to combine with General Terry would have provided greater force, keeping a tighter link to supplies of ammunition, food and water would have strengthened his troopers, combining more with subordinates (e.g. Reno & Benteen) might prevented such heavy losses, a better use of reconnaisance would have led to a very different, and more successful, outcome.

However, he wasn't solely responsible. His opinion of Sioux & Cheyenne military abilities was commonplace among the whites.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on Battle of the Little Big Horn 16 May 2009
Kershaw has, in my opinion, written a masterpiece of plains indians history.

Not only has he described in great detail the defeat of Custers command, but also,has given a great insite to the "foregotten" battles of that day,and the following day, i.e the commands of Reno and Benteen.

It is written with such feeling,and understanding, you cannot fail to be moved by the tragic events as they unfold.

The quotes from journals of the soldiers involved add's poignancy to the vivid events of the two days.

A "must have" book for any serious student of native american wars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By LurkyO
This is by far the best account of the events leading to and the outcome of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Kershaw debunks all the old myths surrounding 'Custer's Last Stand' and presents a very readable and plausable interpretation of what happened on that fateful day. I challenge any person to put down the book once they start reading.
Written in a very clear and attractive style the author's account stands head and shoulders above any others because he has brought his own experiences as a professional soldier to evaluate the available evidence. In particular, his understanding of the tactical importance of the ground, the factors influencing Custer's decision making (eg, fatigue, doctrine, enemy actions) and the comparison of combat strengths present a balanced view of what happened.
However, this is not a dry and dusty read. His descriptive use of language and engaging narrative means you can almost 'taste' the action as it unfolds.
Definitley on a par with anything Anthony Beevor (Stalingrad)has written.
If you don't buy any other book on this subject, buy this one, you will not be disappointed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Red Sabbath 16 Mar 2009
By Spike14
An excellent, informative book that brings the people involved to life. Very good character assessments, and descriptions of the various battle sequences are frighteningly realistic.
The author tries to give a balanced view of the whole episode.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointedly one-sided.
Having purchased this on the strength of previous reviews,I was very disappointed with the one-sided analysis. Read more
Published 9 months ago by mitakuye oyasin
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost excellent
What a pity. This book contains more facts about the subject, and more explanation of it, than any other I have read - and I've read quite a few. Read more
Published on 6 July 2011 by MLAbrahams
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opener!
Brilliant book - totally changed my outlook on Custer and the Battle of Little Big Horn!
He was foolhardy during this campaign, but the mistakes made by the American army were... Read more
Published on 8 Jun 2011 by Gary from Barry
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Big Horn battle
After much reading on this subject and visiting the battlefield.I must say without a doubt that this is a great book , the best I have come across . Read more
Published on 15 April 2011 by Usario
5.0 out of 5 stars An informative read which brings this battle into perspective
I enjoyed this book,it brings to life all of the fascinating characters' from the era, both Native American and Troopers involved. Read more
Published on 26 Nov 2010 by John Kelly IOM
4.0 out of 5 stars 3,000 Indians , 200 Cavalry men
If that's not the basis of a good story .....what is ?? Get inside the Hollywood version and find out the REAL story
Published on 25 Oct 2010 by B. M. Walker
2.0 out of 5 stars poorly made
Im sure this book would have been a great read, but after 2 chapters the book binding began to fall apart. very poorly made product
Published on 4 Sep 2010 by mdf
5.0 out of 5 stars How could Custer be regarded as a hero ?
A detailed and easy to follow analysis of the campaign - what went wrong & why. For a more detailed analysis of the Custer character, the political atmosphere and life in the... Read more
Published on 29 July 2010 by T. Laurie
5.0 out of 5 stars couldnt put this book down!!
ive read several books on this subject and this is by far one of the best.
highly recommend...excellent reading !!
Published on 21 Sep 2009 by Mr. S. A. Mote
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant stuff...prepare to throw out the usual "Custer" drivel
...I can only concurr with the previous comments.....as a longtime donkey walloper.... I have to say that the tactical insight of this former Para and his story telling is little... Read more
Published on 22 July 2009 by Lightcavalryman
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