T.J Stiles
T.J Stiles: “My obituary headline just changed again.”

Berkeley author T. J. Stiles won a Pulitzer Prize in history Monday for his book, Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America.

It is the second time Stiles has won a Pulitzer. In 2010, he won the Pulitzer in history for his book, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Custer’s Trials was also a finalist in the biography category.

Both books were published by Alfred A. Knopf.

“My obituary headline just changed again,” Stiles wrote on his Facebook page. “I am utterly flummoxed. My heartfelt thanks to my editor, Jonathan Segal, and everyone at Alfred A. Knopf and Vintage. I am very lucky to work with the best publisher in the business.”

While Custer is best known for being killed at Little Big Horn, Stiles only dedicated a small portion of his book to that battle. Instead, he focused on the 36 years prior to Custer’s death. Custer attended West Point, was decorated for his fighting in the Civil War and had an unsuccessful stint on Wall Street, among other experiences.

Custers Trials

As Mal Warwick wrote in his review of Custer’s Trials on Berkeleyside: “T. J. Stiles demonstrates in Custer’s Trials that the life led by Custer before the massacre at Little Big Horn in 1876 was, if anything, far more significant than his death”. Warwick described Stiles as a “brilliant biographer,” and awarded the book five stars out of five.

A native of Minnesota and a graduate of Carleton College, Stiles worked for Oxford University Press for many years before writing his first biography, a look at the life of Jesse James.

Stiles moved from San Francisco to Berkeley in 2013. He lives there with his wife, Jessica, and their two young children. He is very active in karate-do and holds a fifth-degree black belt.

In 2014, Stiles contributed to Berkeleyside’s collection of “Best Books of the Year.”

Two former Daily Cal reporters also won Pulitzers. T. Christian Miller won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for a story he wrote for ProPublica called “An Unbelievable Story of Rape.” Soumya Karlamangla, a former news editor for the paper, was part of the team from the Los Angeles Times that won in the breaking news category for their coverage of the shootings in San Bernardino in December.

Book Review: Custer’s Trials by T.J. Stiles (03.18.16)

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...