Wild West Reads

Compiled by Liz Merton and Sage Webb

 

For those who want to get the heck into Dodge, Sage and Liz are herding together a remuda of Wild West books (from presses large and small) for real cowpokes and couch-bound cowpunchers. (More to come soon!)

Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne

Scribner/Simon & Schuster (2010)

This Pulitzer finalist deserves the accolades it has received. Gwynne delivers a compelling, balanced look at the Indian wars, with a focus on the Comanche. The prose gallops through the story of Cynthia Ann Parker and her son Quanah, the various historical factors that influenced the conflicts, and the ultimate fall of the Comanche nation.  

*

Elizabeth Bacon Custer and the Making of a Myth by Shirley A. Leckie

 

University of Oklahoma Press (1993)

 

Leckie's academic discussion of Mrs. Custer and her dedication to her husband George Armstrong Custer's memory after the Little Bighorn (and before it!) touches on themes of Victorian womanhood, Western expansion, and the Indian wars as a whole. While her prose may lack the deft buoyancy of Gwynne's , Leckie's research runs deep and provides a nice look at the life of a woman who embraced the strictures of Victorian mores while, in her own way (and perhaps subconsciously), bucking them as needed.   

 

*

 

Crazy Horse: A Life by Larry McMurtry

 

Penguin (1999)

In this slim book, Pulitzer-winner McMurtry delivers a light, lyrical homage to the enigmatic Sioux hero of the Little Bighorn. A victim of his times, and of an intimate betrayal, Crazy Horse now seems to symbolize pride, defiance, and a certain "elegance in spite of it all" that so few possess. McMurtry's prose rises to the task of honoring this warrior. 

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