Picks and Pans Review: Custer in Photographs

UPDATED 12/16/1985 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/16/1985 at 01:00 AM EST

by D. Mark Katz

George Armstrong Custer was a man of many passions—none, it would seem from the book, stronger than his desire to have his picture taken. Custer was photographed more often than Lincoln, says Katz, a Gettysburg, Pa. art gallery owner and Civil War photography buff. For this oddly fascinating book he has rounded up 155 shots of Custer. In most instances he seems to be trying to look noble and dignified, though he always had a boyish look, more like Ronald Reagan than Errol Flynn, two of the actors who portrayed him in film. Photography being what it was in those days—Custer was born in 1839—there's very little that isn't a formal portrait, and nobody had a camera along when the grisly remains of Custer's force were found after the Little Big Horn massacre in 1876. But there are shots of Custer in the field with various fellow officers as well as with his wife, Libbie, at home. It's too bad this book, published in a 1,000-copy edition, is so ridiculously expensive. It would make a perfect complement to the award-winning Custer biography by novelist-historian Evan Connell, Son of the Morning Star, just issued in paperback (Harper & Row, $8.95). (Yo-Mark, P.O. Box 765, Gettysburg, Pa. 17325, $300 deluxe, $150 regular editions)

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