In Dreams of El Dorado, H. W. Brands tells the thrilling, panoramic story of the settling of the American West. He takes us from John Jacob Astor's fur trading outpost in Oregon to the Texas Revolution, from the California gold rush to the Oklahoma land rush. He shows how the migrants' dreams drove them to feats of courage and perseverance that put their stay-at-home cousins to shame-and how those same dreams also drove them to outrageous acts of violence against indigenous peoples and one another. The West was where riches would reward the miner's persistence, the cattleman's courage, the railroad man's enterprise; but El Dorado was at least as elusive in the West as it ever was in the East. Balanced, authoritative, and masterfully told, Dreams of El Dorado sets a new standard for histories of the American West.
No figure has contributed as much to American culture as that of the cowboy. Describing American dreams and values as seen through the cowboy image, Jack Weston contrasts that image with reality: the hardworking rider who had to fight not only the elements but his employer in order to make a slender living. The Real American Cowboy is a fascinating account of real life in the Wild West-not glamorous as in the movies, but full of the excitement of a hard and dangerous trade. The very special treatment of the cowboy image in nineteenth-century journalism and the dime novel, and in the twentieth-century media as well, explains the growth of the cowboy myth and its effect on America's goals and assumptions. In analyzing the differences between the myth and the historical reality, this book offers an important new assessment of the Western-and the West-in fiction, film, and in life.
Dusty road shoot outs, roaming buffalo, bar brawls, gold, tragedy and genocide, damsels in distress, and cowboys riding off into the sunset--the taming of the Western frontier is one of the most colorful and fascinating periods of American history. In this beautifully illustrated and comprehensive book, Bruce Wexler brings the ruggedness of the old American West to life. The Wild West separates fact from the fiction, exposing the myths of the old West, and assesses its cultural impact on the indigenous people, American life, and the American dream--both past and present.
Mary Dodge Woodward, a fifty-six-year-old widow, moved from Wisconsin with her two grown sons and a daughter to a 1,500-acre bonanza wheat farm in Dakota Territory's Red River valley in 1882. For five years she recorded the yearly farm cycle of plowing and harvesting as well as the frustrations of gardening and raising chickens, the phenomenon of mirages on the plains, the awesome blizzard of 1888, her reliance on her family, and her close relationship with her daughter. She noted "blots, mistakes, joys, and sorrows" in her "olf friend." This Borealis edition brings back to print a valuable record of a frontier woman's life.
In this revisionist biography, award-winning historian Michael Wallis re-creates the rich anecdotal saga of Billy the Kid (1859-1881), a young man who became a legend in his time and remains an enigma to this day. In an extraordinary evocation of the legendary Old West, Wallis demonstrates why the Kid has remained one of our most popular folk heroes. Filled with dozens of rare images and period photographs, Billy the Kid separates myth from reality and presents an unforgettable portrait of this brief and violent life.
William Cody (1846--1917), a.k.a. Buffalo Bill, was the most famous American of his age. A child of the frontier Great Plains, Cody was renowned as a Pony Express rider, prospector, trapper, Civil War soldier, professional buffalo hunter, Indian fighter, cavalry scout, horseman, dime-novel hero, and actor. But Buffalo Bill's greatest success was as impresario of the Wild West show, the traveling company of cowboys, Indians, Mexican vaqueros, and others, numbering in the hundreds, with which he toured North America and Europe for more than three decades. As Louis S. Warren reveals, the show company came to represent America itself, its dazzling mix of races sprung from a frontier past, welded into a thrilling performance, and making their way through the world via the modern technologies of railroad, portable electrical generator, telephones, and brilliantly colored publicity-an entrancing vision of the frontier-born, newly mechanized, polyglot United States in the Gilded Age.
Biographers have long disputed whether Cody was a hero or a charlatan. As Warren shows, the question already preoccupied critics and spectators during Cody's own lifetime. In fact, the savvy entertainer encouraged the dispute by mingling fictional exploits with his not inconsiderable achievements to construct the persona of an ideal frontiersman, a figure who was more controversial than has been commonly understood. At the same time, his show provided a means for rural westerners, including cowboys, cowgirls, and especially Lakota Sioux Indians, to claim a new future for themselves by reenacting a version of the past.
The most comprehensive critical biography of William Cody in more than forty years, "Buffalo Bill's America" places America's most renowned showman in the context of his cultural worlds in the Far West, in the East, and in Europe. A rich and revealing biography and social history of an American cultural icon.
Where others saw only sage, a salt lake, and a great desert, the Mormons saw their "lovely Deseret," a land of lilacs, honeycombs, poplars, and fruit trees. Unwelcome in Illinois and Missouri, they migrated to the dry lands between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada to establish Mormon country, a wasteland made green. Like the land they settled, the Mormons' habits stood in stark contrast to the frenzied recklessness of the American West. Opposed to the often prodigal individualism of the West, Mormons lived in closely knit--some say ironclad--communities. The story of Mormon country is one of self-sacrifice and labor spent in the search for an ideal in the most forbidding territory of the American West.