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Lakota Noon (SC)

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Lakota Noon is an exhaustively researched and provocative reassessment of Custer's Last Stand. Gregory Michno argues that the voluminous literature about this epic battle has not adequately explained what happened. He attributes this to the fact that there were no white survivors and to contradictions in the Indian accounts. The author acknowledges the problems with Indian recollections but believes "they are still of much greater value than secondary speculation." Michno uses the stories of the Indian participants to reconstruct the battle in ten-minute intervals. After each segment, the author perceptively scrutinizes the unfolding battle and identifies inconsistencies in the Indian accounts. Although Michno's time-line analysis is an innovative way of examining the confrontation, the repetition inherent in this approach may diminish the book's appeal to general readers. Michno disagrees with much of the conventional wisdom about Custer's Last Stand. He believes the number of Indian fighters has been exaggerated and that Custer was not defeated by overwhelming numbers. The author estimates the size of the Indian force at one-thousand. Michno maintains that Custer was a skilled military commander and "not at all the inept egomaniac that some have depicted." Michno superbly depicts the rich culture of the Indians but his empathy for them does not affect his critical judgment. The author's intellectual curiosity and integrity enrich this book. Michno's intriguing interpretation of events at the Little Big Horn will stimulate debate among historians and battle buffs.