In plunging into the world of Social Media I’ve been lucky enough to contact some of the best, most distinguished and successful western authors. Few are more distinguished and successful than Robert Vaughan.
Robert’s books have hit the New York Times bestseller list seven times. He’s won the Spur Award, the PORGIE Award (Best Paperback Original), the Western Fictioneers Lifetime Achievement Award, received the Readwest President's Award for Excellence in Western Fiction, is a member of the American Writers Hall of Fame and is a Pulitzer Prize nominee. And he doesn’t just write westerns!
He tells me he has a first and second favourite of all his books, so to keep you in suspense here’s number 2 - YESTERDAY'S REVEILLE – about the Indian-fighting 7th Cavalry of the 1860s and 1870s under its most controversial commander, GENERAL GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER (1839-1876.)
Robert is well suited to write this: he was a member of the Seventh Cavalry, its historical officer and custodian of all regimental memorabilia, including Custer’s hat, gauntlets, and sabre, as well as several of his morning reports and officers’ field diaries.
As part of his research for YESTERDAY'S REVEILLE, Robert writes: ‘I even exchanged letters with a fascinating 96-year-old gentleman who, as a boy, had known Custer and could remember vividly the day Custer left Fort Lincoln on his last scout because his own father had ridden into eternity with him.’
Custer with Indian scouts
Custer has been depicted (sympathetically and unsympathetically) in many movies, from Errol Flynn in ‘THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON’ (1940)
to Richard Mulligan in ‘LITTLE BIG MAN’ (1970.)
Ronald Reagan even portrayed a young Custer in ‘SANTA FE TRAIL’ (although no one would nickname him ‘Yellow Hair!’)
Ronald Reagan as Custer in SANTA FE TRAIL (1940) with Olivia De Havilland
Wayne Maunder played him in a 1967 TV Series ‘THE LEGEND OF CUSTER.’
One of my favourite depictions was Robert Shaw’s performance in CUSTER OF THE WEST (1967.) The historical accuracy may be arguable, but I liked Shaw’s intense portrayal of a conflicted, driven man and the movie in general.
And there have been too many fictionalisations and variations on the Custer theme to mention, perhaps most notably John Ford’s masterpiece FORT APACHE (1948.) Here Henry Fonda portrayed a Custer-like figure.
Reviewers of YESTERDAY'S REVEILLE describe it as: ‘wonderful’ ‘riveting’ and a ‘Vaughan epic.’
‘Once again Robert Vaughan gives a phenomenal view into the life of a soldier in the Western U.S. and into the early 20th Century. I have read many of Mr. Vaughan's books and have loved every one of them. He does not disappoint as an entertainer or a historian.’
‘A great read for all history buffs.’
‘When an author demonstrates knowledge of the time and place and can wrap it up with a good story I am hooked. Vaughn does a great job on all counts… I also liked what I felt to be a balanced picture of the plains Indians; neither romanticizing or demonizing.’
‘Great Western History… I didn't think I was a big western or history fan, but once started I couldn't put this one down. It's very easy to see how Mr. Vaughn has won all of those awards.’