Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable

Civil War Education, Remembrance and Preservation

T. J. STILES

September 8, 2016

“Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America”

Interesting details not often found in the usual sources. Illustrations supported the presentation well. Appreciated the speaker’s perspective based on insight provided by extensive research. Regret we ran out of copies of his book. I’ll go shopping. Excellent presentation. - Gary Preston
Hands down the best presentation I have ever heard at a PSCWRT meeting.  - Phil Allen
A top notch presentation. Mr. Stiles delineates well the range of Custer’s personhood. His book is a great read and the awards it has garnered are well deserved. - Jon Echols
Current, big named author, amazing "get" for the Round Table, excellent speaker, deep knowledge on his subject and Custer's role in the context of his time, liked his use of photos, great evening! - Doug Galuszka
I was so thrilled when I first found out Mr. Stiles had agreed to come to Seattle. His visit to our group exceeded my already very high expectations. Although known as a biographer not a Civil War author he obviously gained a thorough knowledge of the era, due in large part I imagine to his extensive research necessary to get to the essence of both Cornelius Vanderbilt and Jesse James. "Autie" also struggled with both of those worlds  - high finance and his role as an infamous renegade.

Great book and a fantastic presentation. - Marilyn Rexilius
I enjoyed Mr. Stiles' presentation.  He is well organized and a good story teller. I learned a few details about Custer's life and character that I did not know. - Steve Clayton
Excellent talk. - Craig Miller
Fascinating presentation about Custer and his Civil War experience before Little Big Horn. - Steve Murphy
Wow, what a great turnout. The talk was up to the our expectations, too. People are still carried away by the dash and daring of Custer and last night I was introduced, for the first time, to his contraband. Before this I had only heard of Lillie. Makes me want to read more. - Stephen Pierce
Mr. Stiles was very good. Start to finish it was easy to follow. The humor and insights were solid. The Q & A being off script brought out a plethora of "You-knows" which did prove to be somewhat distracting. Wonderful presentation!! - Bob Hazen
Knowledgeable, paced well, used slides to augment his talk rather than reading from PP. Overall, excellent talk! - Jeff McLaughlin
We attended the meeting Thursday night and really enjoyed the speaker for the night. His presentation was good and the information he gave on Custer was very interesting and sometimes fascinating on the things he shared. I have read several books on Custer but a lot of what he shared was new information to me. I enjoyed the whole presentation and was especially impressed with the question/answer session afterwards where he could elaborate more on the subject and was more thorough and precise with the information. VERY GOOD SPEAKER. Thank you, the whole evening was very interesting and enjoyable. - Allen and Louise Suter
Last night was so good! I loved the chance to see the presentation by T. J. Stiles and to talk with him. It was the BEST I have seen in 24 years!! - Jim Dimond
The speaker was excellent.  Custer was a very controversial figure: He was very egotistical, given to self-indulgence, always drawing attention, insubordinate at times, trampling on Indian Treaty Rights in the Black Hills, etc.  He was also a very brave officer, leading charges, insightful, beloved of his soldiers, and a hero in combat.  T. J. Stiles presented both visions objectively, with slides, that brought out Custer's best and his bad sides.  

In the question and answer period after his talk, he gave the Indians credit for their victory at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, rather than blaming the defeat entirely on Custer's foolhardiness.   My readings agree that the Indians ingeniously set up the trap that caught Custer's Cavalry entirely by surprise.   The Indians had cleverly concealed their horse warriors in the gullies; and, at the signal, surrounded the 7th Cavalry, shooting their mounts. - Jorgen Bader
Historian T.J. Stiles, who won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in History for his biography of George A. Custer, talked about Custer’s life. Stiles primarily emphasized his time in the Civil War. He did an outstanding job, showing the intricacies of Custer and how his ambition and determination (and a lot of “Custer’s Luck”) allowed him to quickly go from an unknown staff subordinate to command of a Brigade of cavalry in the Army of the Potomac by the summer of 1863, just prior to the Gettysburg Campaign. While successful on the battlefield, Stiles showed Custer was a poor administrator, especially during Reconstruction after the war in Texas.

Stiles took great pains to emphasize that like all of us, Custer was a mass of contradictions. He said it has been too easy for historians in the past to play up his seemingly “go for broke” tactics in battle when in most cases, in the Civil War and later, they were carefully calculated decisions. All in all, an outstanding, informative and interesting presentation. Makes me want to know more about Custer! - Mark Terry
Interesting and informative. Mr. Stiles really knows Custer. He didn't use notes or script. One of, if not the best presentation I have attended at the Roundtable. Thanks to Pat for his work in getting this speaker. - Jay Secord
I thought Mr. Stiles did a great job in his presentation to the PSCWRT. He was clear, and knowledgeable on his subject, and managed to also make it interesting. This is the second time I have heard him speak on Custer and he did not disappoint either time. The only problem I had was it was difficult to hear with the sound system provided. Maybe next time I need to come earlier and get a seat at the hard to hear table. - Don Spenard
T.J. Stiles gave a fine talk on Custer, among the best we’ve had during my 12 or so years attending PSCWRT.  The subject was somewhat peripheral to the Civil War (not a negative for me) but not more so than a number of other talks we’ve had.  Like nearly all Pat Brady’s speaker selections, it was interesting and entertaining.  Stiles’ knowledge of his subject was unsurpassed and that knowledge extended on many sides of his main subject. - Rod Cameron
What I heard was interesting but being back 3 tables and wearing hearing aids, it was hard to hear the speaker. - Jack Seeley
I thought he did a great job.  It was organized and thorough.  He was very knowledgeable and he made the presentation interesting. - Larry Johnson
I found the speaker's presentation very enjoyable. His subject knowledge was terrific and presentation skills outstanding. - Richard Dickson