Imagining the African American West Blake Allmendinger, University of Nebraska Press, $49.95, Hardcover; 800-755-1105.

afro-amer-westFewer Blacks settled in the West than other groups, but they had a distinct and early presence. For example, the first Black man to visit the West came as a slave with Spanish Explorers in the 1500s, and the well-known fur trader James Beckwourth was of African origins. Many joined the 19th-century westward migration to become miners, merchants and cowboys. The abundant historical records, novels, films, music and theatre in this book paint the missing picture of African American life in the West, although the author could have spiced it up by using fewer examples and more good old storytelling. —Cynthia Green

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