Our Favorite Western Reads of 2012

NONFICTION

THE LAST CAMEL CHARGE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICA’S DESERT MILITARY EXPERIMENT
By Forrest Bryant Johnson (Berkley)

This fascinating book weaves together numerous threads that tell the story not only of the U.S. Army’s camel experiment, but also of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the western migration and other turbulent events of the 1850s.

 

BLACKFOOT REDEMPTION: A BLOOD INDIAN’S STORY OF MURDER, CONFINEMENT, AND IMPERFECT JUSTICE
By William E. Farr (University of Oklahoma Press)

A Blackfoot Indian named Spopee shot and killed a white man in 1879 and, after being captured, escaped execution when he was confined to an insane asylum in Washington, D.C., where he “fell silent” and remained locked away for 32 years. His pardon by Woodrow Wilson thrust him back into society like a modern-day Rip Van Winkle.

 

WITH GOLDEN VISIONS BRIGHT BEFORE THEM: TRAILS TO THE MINING WEST, 1849-1852
By Will Bagley (University of Oklahoma Press)

This work that comprises the second volume of the publisher’s series “Overland West: The Story of the Oregon and California Trails” concentrates on the rigors, trials and travails of those who traversed the continent when dangers and hardships abounded.

 

HERE LIES HUGH GLASS: A MOUNTAIN MAN, A BEAR, AND THE RISE OF THE AMERICAN NATION
By Jon T. Coleman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The quintessential tale of survival against all odds in an unforgiving 1820s frontier West, Hugh Glass’s near-miraculous recovery from grizzly attack—and his return, unaided, to civilization—became what Coleman describes as a legend that shaped the American mythos.

 

BLACK FIRE: THE TRUE STORY OF THE ORIGINAL TOM SAWYER—AND OF THE MYSTERIOUS FIRES THAT BAPTIZED GOLD RUSH-ERA SAN FRANCISCO
By Robert Graysmith (Crown)

In a tale that merges multiple motifs—Mark Twain working as a reporter in Frisco, a serial arsonist known as the Lightkeeper and a local firefighter named Tom Sawyer who pursued the criminal—Graysmith weaves a tale based on the real-life account that so impressed Twain that the author made Sawyer the namesake of a first novel.

 

ACROSS GOD’S FRONTIER: CATHOLIC SISTERS IN THE AMERICAN WEST, 1850-1920
By Anne M. Butler (University of North Carolina Press)

Butler traces 70 years of Catholic sisterhood in the American West, detailing the ways in which nuns and sisters were forces for positive change in the communities they touched. Their work changed the cultures they encountered and the roles they themselves filled.

 

BONANZAS & BORRASCAS
By Richard E. Lingenfelter (Arthur H. Clark Company)

In Gold Lust & Silver Sharks, the author follows the fortunes of the West’s mining magnates in the years 1848-84. The companion volume, Copper Kings and Stock Frenzies, takes readers from 1885-1918.

 

WEST FROM SALT LAKE: DIARIES FROM THE CENTRAL OVERLAND TRAIL
Edited by Jesse G. Petersen (Arthur H. Clark Company)

The title says it all. These are the accounts of the Old West wayfarers who took the middle road, not the route north through Idaho, nor the trail south that meandered to southern California. No, these hardy souls set out due west—into the desert.

 

COURAGEOUS HEROES OF THE AMERICAN WEST SERIES (FOR KIDS)
By William R. Sanford and Carl R. Green (Enslow Publishers)

The newest title in this revised series is on bulldogging legend Bill Pickett, a featured performer in the Miller Brothers’ 101 Ranch Wild West Show.

 

Related Posts

  • yommy-lee-johns_the-homesman_reviews

    The Homesman will be Tommy Lee Jones’s next project, and, like in The Three Burials…

  • natalie-portman_jane-got-a-gun_review

    Jane Got a Gun will star producer and actress Natalie Portman, who recently won an…

  • elevating-western-art-oklahoma-press

    The pages of Elevating Western American Art feature 30 in-depth essays written by renowned art…