Our Favorite Western Reads of 2012

BIOGRAPHIES

GERONIMO
Robert M. Utley (Yale University Press)

Publisher’s Weekly reports that author Utley “humanizes” Geronimo. Kirkus Reviews states Utley’s portrayal is of one who “was neither a hero nor a thug.” This biography goes beyond the pat, conventional understandings to reveal truer character.

 

CUSTER
By Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster)

McMurtry, with his name recognition and broad following, will muster a fresh crop of devotees to Custeriana with this concise,   absorbing account that goes at a gallop. Well packaged with highly evocative period art and photography that will appeal to today’s graphics-inclined mind-set.

 

THE INDIAN WARSDELIVERANCE FROM THE LITTLE BIG HORN: DOCTOR HENRY PORTER AND CUSTER’S SEVENTH CAVALRY
By Joan Nabseth Stevenson (University of Oklahoma Press)

As one source notes, “Stevenson’s medical perspective on Little Big Horn is revelatory, written with an eye for striking details.” Porter, the only surgeon to return from the battle, was attached to Reno’s battalion.

 

TERRIBLE JUSTICE: SIOUX CHIEFS AND U.S. SOLDIERS ON THE UPPER MISSOURI, 1854-1868
By Doreen Chaky (Arthur H. Clark Company)

Concentrating on the pre-1870 history of the various Sioux bands, author Doreen Chaky details many heretofore little known or underappreciated aspects of the contentious cultural clash between a powerful tribe and the U.S. military.

 

SIOUX WAR DISPATCHES: REPORTS FROM THE FIELD, 1876-1877
By Marc H. Abrams (Westholme Publishing)

Abrams sifts a trove of frontier-era newspaper correspondence to glean a compilation of choice finds, yielding insights not only into the tumults of the day, but also into the minds of the chroniclers themselves.

 

CANADIANS WITH CUSTER
By Mary Thomas (Dundurn)

Thomas tells the stories of the 17 Canadians—including Canadian-American journalist Mark Kellogg, who perished at the Little Big Horn—who accompanied the 7th Cavalry expedition of 1876.

 

OUTLAWS & LAWMEN WHEN LAW WAS IN THE HOLSTER: THE FRONTIER LIFE OF BOB PAUL
By John Boessenecker (University of Oklahoma Press)

The man we call the “bravest lawman you never heard of” is the subject of this long-overdue biography. Bob Paul’s colorful career in California and the Arizona Territory is riveting reading.

 

THE McLAURYS IN TOMBSTONE, ARIZONA: AN O.K. CORRAL OBITUARY
By Paul Lee Johnson (University of North Texas Press)

Were Tom and Frank McLaury simply a couple of bad guys who got theirs at the O.K. Corral? In this book, another of the fine works coming from UNT Press, Paul Lee Johnson refuses past characterizations and digs deeper into the much-told tale.

 

BUTCH CASSIDY, MY UNCLE
By Bill Betenson (High Plains Press)

Betenson updates his great-grandmother’s tale, Butch Cassidy, My Brother, by bringing additional source material to the account of the famous outlaw.

 

“THAT FIEND IN HELL”: SOAPY SMITH IN LEGEND
By Catherine Holder Spude (University of Oklahoma Press)

The Smith legend is in for a debunking in this interesting reassessment of the life of the purported “uncrowned king of Skagway.”

 

SAM SIXKILLER: CHEROKEE FRONTIER LAWMAN
By Chris Enss and Howard Kazanjian (TwoDot)

Fans of Old West lawmen will find an interesting twist in this biography of Sam Sixkiller, a real-deal peace officer in the rowdy Oklahoma Territory who took it upon himself to honor the Cherokee way of life.

 

THE RECKONING: THE TRIUMPH OF ORDER ON THE TEXAS OUTLAW FRONTIER
By Peter R. Rose (Texas Tech University Press)

Out in the remote and lawless Edwards Plateau, outlaw raid after outlaw raid plagued these parts—particularly in Kimble County.  Author Peter R. Rose tells how the Texas Rangers and others put the quietus on things.

 

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