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titoli
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« Reply #165 on: May 31, 2017, 10:37:13 PM »



Classic Cowboy Stories ed. by Michael McCoy (2004)

A good combination of both fact and fiction, with some very well known material and some more rare offer (see the moronic Cowboy Golf (!) by Zane Grey). All the stuff comes from late 19th early 20th century period.  Not a place to start from, but worth catching up with. 8/10

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« Reply #166 on: June 07, 2017, 03:57:04 AM »



The Arbor House Treasury of Great Western Stories

Excellent collection of both classic and newer (i.e. post IIWW) stories. One of the best of its kind, though it includes often printed items. But a good place to start from for those interested in the genre.  9/10

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« Reply #167 on: June 13, 2017, 01:43:08 AM »



The American West in Fiction ed. by Jon Tuska

This collection could be worthwhile if only for the introduction and the extensive prefaces to the single stories, very informative and competent.

The second edition, re-titled The American West (but careful: there's a reprint of the first edition by the same title), is quite different from the former, as half the stories are different, so it is to be recommended as the former.


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« Reply #168 on: June 18, 2017, 03:04:16 AM »

Book review in The Wall Street Journal of “Cattle Kingdom: The Hidden History of the Cowboy West," by Christopher Knowlton. Book review is by Stephen Harrigan

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/from-open-range-to-closed-frontier-1496436056

From Open Range to Closed Frontier
The Old West’s “Beef Boom” lasted barely 25 years, but it gave us the cowboy forever. Stephen Harrigan reviews ‘Cattle Kingdom’ by Christopher Knowlton.

 ‘I wish that I had never heard of a horned beast.” So concluded the Earl of Rosslyn, a British investor in the 19th-century American cattle boom. He isn’t a major character in Christopher Knowlton’s lively and sweeping chronicle, but his disappointed summation leaps out of its pages with a familiar echo. In other eras, the earl might have wished that he had never heard of tulips, or dot-coms, or credit default swaps.

“Cattle Kingdom: The Hidden History of the Cowboy West” touches the bases you might expect from its title, and Mr. Knowlton writes well about all the usual fun stuff: trail drives, rambunctious cow towns, gunfights and range wars. What makes it a “hidden history” is the way it enlists all these tropes in support of an intriguing thesis: that the romance of the Old West arose upon the swelling surface of a giant economic bubble.

The author’s most obvious debt is to Walter Prescott Webb, whose 1931 classic, “The Great Plains,” described the all-conquering technology—six-shooters, barbed wire, windmills—that carried white civilization west into what used to be known as the Great American Desert. Mr. Knowlton graciously acknowledges this debt by way of an epigraph quoting Webb: “To be a cowboy was adventure; to be a ranchman was to be a king.”

But “Cattle Kingdom” is “The Great Plains” by way of “The Big Short.” It tracks how the startlingly swift and near-complete extermination of the buffalo by hide-hunters in the 1870s resulted in the equally swift introduction of a grass-munching replacement: longhorn cattle, derived from the stock of Spanish conquistadors, that were driven north from Texas to satisfy a national demand for beef and sparked the brief golden age of the open range.

It was a sudden boom fueled by a frenzy of speculation, notably among 20-something American aristocrats and their landed, restless soulmates in the United Kingdom and Europe—all of them confidently expecting a reputed 33% return on their investment and eager to forge a bracing new identity in the rugged West.

“It was here the romance of my life began,” Mr. Knowlton quotes the young Theodore Roosevelt saying of his ranching days in the Dakota Territory. For a book like “Cattle Kingdom,” which tells its story in large part through interlocking character portraits, Roosevelt is unavoidable and irresistible. His health was low and, after losing his wife and mother on the same day, his spirit was shattered when he took a break from politics and followed his friends from the Harvard Porcellian Club west in 1884. He arrived with a bespoke buckskin suit, a custom-made bowie knife from Tiffany & Co. and a vocabulary that included such un-cowboy expressions as “Hasten forward there.” But after punching out a belligerent cowboy in a bar fight and daringly apprehending a gang of thieves, he was soon generally considered, to quote one of his Dakota friends, as “a fearless bugger.”

Roosevelt’s Badlands saga has been sung in multiple biographies. Less familiar are some of the other characters Mr. Knowlton deploys, like the blue-blooded Owen Wister (future author of “The Virginian”) or the unlikely French cattle baron (with “hooded, haughty eyes” and a waxed mustache) known as the Marquis de Morès. Perhaps most memorable is the British aristocrat and exquisitely hapless entrepreneur Moreton Frewen, aka “Mortal Ruin.” Frewen, who would become the uncle by marriage of Winston Churchill, impulsively decided that the outcome of a horse race would determine whether he should go to Ireland to become Master of the Kilkenny Hounds or cross the Atlantic to reinvent himself as an American cattle rancher. After his horse lost, he followed through and set sail, displaying such mismanagement and enduring such misfortune as a cattle baron that he went on to earn inclusion in a book titled “Studies in Sublime Failure.”

The bubble that he and Roosevelt and the marquis bought into with such elan began to burst around 1884 with declining beef prices, rising freight charges, and more and more cattle competing for the grass of the open range. Then there was the killing blow, the apocalyptic, blizzardy winter of 1886-87, known as the Big Die-Up. Roosevelt’s losses were representative—more than half of his herd perished. The Big Die-Up led not just to financial ruin among the cattle barons but, for the elite members of groups like the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, to homicidal desperation. One of the best chapters in “Cattle Kingdom” is its harrowing summary of the Johnson County War, sparked when the open-range gentry rose up to form a vigilante army to kill encroaching settlers and assassinate local sheriffs.

The kingdom they were protecting with such ferocity had been a short-lived but splendid one. There was so much of what Moreton Frewen called “dear vulgar money” in Cheyenne, Wyo., for instance, that according to Mr. Knowlton it had the highest median per capita income of any city in the world. “It wasn’t long before Cheyenne . . . had become one of those haunts of the wealthy,” he writes, “like Florence or Capri in Italy, Heiligendamm on the Baltic Sea, Nice on the French Riviera, or the hill stations of India, where the nineteenth-century idle rich freely indulged in their privileged lifestyle.” Mr. Knowlton notes that, in the 1880s, Cheyenne cattlemen “were dressing for dinner in black tie, smoking Cuban cigars, and quaffing French champagne and grand cru vintages.”

The days when cattle ranchers dressed for dinner in black tie are long gone, but in the author’s opinion the cattle kingdom represents more than a cultural legacy. It was the all-purpose incubator of modern America. The slaughterhouse automation that was invented to kill and process cattle led to the development of the assembly line and mass manufacturing. The joint-stock companies set up by English and Scottish investors in American beef paved the way for the hedge funds of today. Teddy Roosevelt’s experiences and the insights he gained in the West were crucial to the rise of the conservation movement. The search by an epidemiologist named Theobald Smith for the origins of the cattle disease known as Texas fever opened up new horizons in medicine.

The author drives this argument to the brink of exhaustion when, pondering our fascination with the figure of the cowboy, he posits “that a direct link connects vigilante justice on the open range and U.S. involvement in Vietnam, or Iraq, or most recently our vigilante-like drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere.” I sometimes wished that Mr. Knowlton hadn’t felt the need to think quite so hard, especially since his book otherwise coasts along just fine on the strength of his curiosity and storytelling ease.

And his empathy. He pauses to shed a tear not just for bankrupt land barons and bushwhacked settlers but for the real central players in the cattle-kingdom story: the cattle themselves. They sure had a hard journey on their way to a plate at Delmonico’s steakhouse—harried forward for thousands of freezing or parched miles, crowded into stock cars, bludgeoned to death by two-pointed hammers in Chicago slaughterhouses. The starving cattle that managed to survive the snows of the Big Die-Up “smashed their heads through the glass windows of ranch houses or tried to push through the doors; in their frantic hunger they ate the tarpaper off the sides of farm buildings.” Mr. Knowlton resists the temptation to chastise the past about animal rights from our supposedly more enlightened century, but he steadily, sneakily reminds us that, even as the cattle bubble was bursting and the shareholders were being thrown into ruin, it was their four-footed commodity that did the real suffering.

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Stephen Harrigan is the author, most recently, of the novel “A Friend of Mr. Lincoln.” He is at work on a history of Texas.

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« Reply #169 on: July 12, 2017, 07:50:28 AM »



Greatest Cowboy Stories Ever Told: Enduring Tales Of The Western Frontier

A combination of fiction and autobiography of uneven quality and which has the added minus of being made up of excerpts from whole books. I likes the Pecos Bill stories and the excerpt from Frank Harris' reminiscenses on which the Daves movie Cowboy was based. But then I'll have to buy the whole book. 6/10

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« Reply #170 on: July 12, 2017, 08:10:02 AM »

Quote
Cowboy Stories
in Montana is a euphemism for bull shittin'.

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« Reply #171 on: July 12, 2017, 11:00:15 AM »

in Montana is a euphemism for bull shittin'.

I don't think that goes only for Montana.

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« Reply #172 on: July 18, 2017, 04:51:17 AM »



Louise Barnett - Touched By Fire

An excellent biography, giving a full picture of the times where Custer and his wife (as much a protagonist of the book as her husband) lived.  The debates on Custer's figure and his life won't ever end, but I presume, not being an expert though, this is the best book to start from. 10/10

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« Reply #173 on: July 18, 2017, 06:48:25 AM »

Not a book, but August/September issue of "Cowboys and Indians" magazine has Clint on the cover and an article about Clint, Leone, and the spaghetti westerns.   Mrs. Cusser bought a copy for me, she saw it at the grocery store.

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« Reply #174 on: July 18, 2017, 08:12:06 AM »

an article about Clint, Leone, and the spaghetti westerns. 

Written by?

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« Reply #175 on: July 19, 2017, 11:57:35 AM »



A Century of Great Western Stories - ed. John Jakes

A good anthology with classic and newer material, including a not very good novel by Ed Gorman. In his intro Jakes confirms everybody's view  that the end of the western movie came with the appearance of Star Wars. 8/10

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