Archive for the tag 'old west'

A Sioux story of the war by Wamditanka: a short review

This article offers a different perspective on the Minnesota events reported in Theodore Potter’s Autobiography, which I’ve recently reviewed here. The “author,” also known as Big Eagle, was an officer on the Indian side during the second battles at New Ulm and Fort Ridgely. Big Eagle talks about the reasons for the war, the tribal politics of the decision to go to war, and gives accounts of the battles he participated in. The narrative generally rings true, and is therefore interesting, but there are some problems.

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The Autobiography of Theodore Edgar Potter: a review

Potter was a competent writer and a gifted story-teller. His memoir is largely concerned with the years from 1852 to 1865, during which the author joined the California gold rush, took part (after a fashion) in William Walker’s Nicaraguan filibuster, visited New York, New Orleans, and Saint Louis, and took up residence in southern Minnesota. He was a captain in the militia which defended New Ulm during the Dakota War of 1862; later he was a Union officer whose troops participated at the fringe of the Battle of Nashville–mostly they chased, and sometimes caught, partisan guerillas. Some years later he was involved in the apprehension of the Younger brothers gang, again in southern Minnesota.

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Doc Holliday by Karen Holliday Tanner: a short review

Covers pretty much the same territory as Gary Roberts’ book on Holliday, but not as well, and this book is nowhere near so balanced. Prose is, at best, workmanlike.

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Inventing Wyatt Earp by Allen Barra: a review

Allen Barra examines the evidence, and concludes that the real Wyatt Earp resembled the mythical Wyatt Earp. This book is, in essence, an argument against Frank Waters and his “revisionist” successors (I really dislike that term; it distorts how real historians work). This unsurprising conclusion is well-told, but the book’s a little digressive and chatty. And, as noted in one of the other LT reviews, the copyediting leaves a lot to be desired, though I wouldn’t go so far as reporting errors in “every paragraph.” Perhaps the new publisher cleaned things up with this edition.

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Tombstone by Odie Faulk: a review

One chapter is devoted to the gunfight, its context, and its aftermath. Faulk basically wishes a plague on all the participants; all are, in his view, pretty bad characters and it’s best that they mostly abandoned the town after the shootout. Some of his facts differ from the currently accepted narrative–likely because four subsequent decades of research have clarified some specifics–but on the whole his portrayal of the event rings true.

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Stagecoach by Philip Fradkin: a review

A celebration of the first 150 years of the Wells Fargo Company. Very readable and obviously well-researched, and just critical enough to avoid being a company hagiography.

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Boom Town

John Clum, Wyatt & Sadie/Josie Earp, George Parsons, Nellie Cashman–all lived in Tombstone in 1881, all lived long lives, and all spent many years in mining camps in many places. This short paragraph expresses an important force in all those lives, and in the lives of many less heralded folks who mined, or lived near mines. To all appearances, everyone on this list would have lived pretty much the same life with or without the savage gunfight which appears to define the Tombstone story.

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A Context for Tombstone

Where, Exactly, is Tombstone?

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Wyatt moves to Tombstone

Already in 1881 the Tombstone tale was known to be so bizarre that it generated preposterous coverage, and distance from the events hasn’t improved the situation. The “primary” sources are biased, contradictory, and sometimes just wrong. So are many of the websites, and much of the printed material. Some sources which seem to be reliable are largely fiction.

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