Films like Custer of the West starring Robert Shaw portrayed the general as a gallant hero - but many feel he was a blunderer.
In reviewing Nathaniel Philbrick's The Last Stand, New York Times critic Bruce Barcott comes to the conclusion that General George Armstrong Custer was a bumbler akin to Inspector Clouseau and compares President Grant to Clouseau's perpetually frustrated boss, Dreyfus. Philbrick's biography of Custer sheds a new perspective on the oft-analyzed battle that cost Custer his life and his entire command. Philbrick points out that Custer benefited from a few lucky breaks in his career that resulted in his gaining a reputation as a brilliant strategist- when, in fact, he was merely a reckless fool who lacked any inherent understanding of battlefield tactics. In the wake of his legendary defeat, his widow Libby teamed with notorious liar Buffalo Bill to propagate the myth that Custer was a national hero. As such, Philbrick says, Custer became one of the first artificial American celebrities - someone who gained fame for the wrong reason. (Think Paris Hilton) For more click here
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