A magnificent history of the American conquest of the West; a story full of authority and color, truth and prophecy (The New York Times Book Review).In the summer of 1846, the Army of the West marched through Santa Fe, en route to invade and occupy the Western territories claimed by Mexico. Fueled by the new ideology of "Manifest Destiny," this land grab would lead to a decades-long battle between the United States and the Navajos, the fiercely resistant rulers of a huge swath of mountainous desert wilderness.
At the center of this sweeping tale is Kit Carson, the trapper, scout, and soldier whose adventures made him a legend. Sides shows us how this illiterate mountain man understood and respected the Western tribes better than any other American, yet willingly followed orders that would ultimately devastate the Navajo nation. Rich in detail and spanning more than three decades, this is an essential addition to our understanding of how the West was really won.
American lore has slighted the cowgirl, although at least one can still be found in nearly every ranching community. Like her male counterpart, she rides and ropes, understands land and stock, and confronts the elements. The writer and photographer Teresa Jordan traveled sixty thousand miles in the American West, talking with more than a hundred authentic cowgirls running ranches and performing in rodeos. The result is a fascinating book that also situates the cowgirl in history and literature. A new preface and updated bibliography have been added to this Bison Book edition.
Albert Jerome Dickson was fourteen years old in 1864 when he left LaCrosse, Wisconsin, in a small caravan of covered wagons headed for Montana Territory. Thousands of emigrants had preceded him on the Oregon Trail, but none ever described the journey in sharper detail. "Covered Wagon Days" recreates the daily progress of Dickson's party, which included his guardians, Joshua and Rebecca Ridgley. The logistics of such a trip, the sights along a trail marked by ruts and fresh graves, the rigors of camping, the encounters with Indians and returning pilgrims and vigilantes running after road agents--all figure in Dickson's memoir. The payoff for the Ridgleys is not the gold being discovered in the mountains near Virginia City but a fine farm in Gallatin Valley. As vivid as any novel about the Oregon Trail and pioneering in the Northwest, "Covered Wagon Days," first published in 1929, is based on journals and materials that were edited by the author's son, Arthur Jerome Dickson.
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.
John Colter was a crack hunter with the Lewis and Clark expedition before striking out on his own as a mountain man and fur trader. A solitary journey in the winter of 1807-8 took him into present-day Wyoming. To unbelieving trappers he later reported sights that inspired the name of Colter's Hell. It was a sulfurous place of hidden fires, smoking pits, and shooting water. And it was real. John Colter is known to history as probably the first white man to discover the region that now includes Yellowstone National Park. In a classic book, first published in 1952, Burton Harris weighs the facts and legends about a man who was dogged by misfortune and robbed of the just rewards he had earned.
This Bison Book edition includes a 1977 addendum by the author and a new introduction by David Lavender, who considers Colter's remarkable winter journey in the light of current scholarship.
In Sleuthing the Alamo, historian James E. Crisp draws back the curtain on years of mythmaking to reveal some surprising truths about the Texas Revolution--truths often obscured by both racism and "political correctness," as history has been hijacked by combatants in the culture wars of the past two centuries.
Beginning with a very personal prologue recalling both the pride and the prejudices that he encountered in the Texas of his youth, Crisp traces his path to the discovery of documents distorted, censored, and ignored--documents which reveal long-silenced voices from the Texan past. In each of four chapters focusing on specific documentary "finds," Crisp uncovers the clues that led to these archival discoveries. Along the way, the cast of characters expands to include: a prominent historian who tried to walk away from his first book; an unlikely teenaged "speechwriter" for General Sam Houston; three eyewitnesses to the death of Davy Crockett at the Alamo; a desperate inmate of Mexico City's Inquisition Prison, whose scribbled memoir of the war in Texas is now listed in the Guiness Book of World Records; and the stealthy slasher of the most famous historical painting in Texas. In his afterword, Crisp explores the evidence behind the mythic "Yellow Rose of Texas" and examines some of the powerful forces at work in silencing the very voices from the past that we most need to hear today.
Here then is an engaging first-person account of historical detective work, illuminating the methods of the serious historian--and the motives of those who prefer glorious myth to unflattering truth.
William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody was the most famous American of his age. He claimed to have worked for the Pony Express when only a boy and to have scouted for General George Custer. But what was his real story? And how did a frontiersman become a worldwide celebrity? In this prize-winning biography, acclaimed author Louis S. Warren explains not only how Cody exaggerated his real experience as an army scout and buffalo hunter, but also how that experience inspired him to create the gigantic, traveling spectacle known as Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. A dazzling mix of Indians, cowboys, and vaqueros, they performed on two continents for three decades, offering a surprisingly modern view of the United States and a remarkably democratic version of its history. This definitive biography reveals the genius of America's greatest showman, and the startling history of the American West that drove him and his performers to the world stage.