As Big as the West: The Pioneer Life of Granville Stuart (Nonfiction)

Clyde A. Milner II & Carol A. O'Connor, Oxford University Press, $34.95, Hardcover.
Clyde A. Milner II & Carol A. O’Connor, Oxford University Press, $34.95, Hardcover.

Seven years after his death in 1918, Granville Stuart’s second wife published his two-volume pioneer memoir. In it, he had romanticized his 40 years in Montana and avoided unsavory aspects of his history—such as abandoning his 11 half-breed children after his Shoshoni wife died. This new biography tries to sort out the real from the self-aggrandized life. The differences reveal Granville’s character,  yet the frequent comparisons between the memoir and the truth often interrupt the flow of his saga. Nonetheless, Granville’s illustrious life lays bare the late 19th-century attitudes toward land, Indians and family. Freethinking and resilience propelled his Montana adventures, just as much as greed and arrogance.

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