Here is a photo that has always touched me; so much so that a copy hangs on the wall over my desk. It is of frontiersman, scout, Pony Express Rider and showman William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846-1917) in a tent on the grounds of his Wild West Show, telling yarns to his little pards.
Well … wow. Having read deeply about the American West for two decades, I had thought that there would be few surprises left in store for me. And then, happily, I came across S. C. Gwynne’s masterful, Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History. If you read only one book about the so-called Indian Wars, let it be this one.
No figure – including that glorious tall-tale-spinner Buffalo Bill Cody – is more riddled with confusion, controversy and misinformation than that hero of the Alamo, David (Davy) Crockett (1876-1836).
It’s always a pleasure to learn one is wrong for the right reasons. Until writing this column, I had been under the impression that Hearts of the West, a truly wonderful western comedy from 1975, was unavailable on DVD.
I often find myself pulling down familiar books during the Christmas season. Some, like the Christmas novels of Charles Dickens, are about the holiday itself. Others, like the superb novel Monte Walsh (1963) by Jack Schaefer, have a Christmas-themed chapter that I find irresistible.