The once popular genre of Western fiction books seems to be fading into the sunset, with fewer of them being written or checked out. There are currently only three new Westerns on our new book shelf, with some still coming in. However, if you have a hankerin’ for similar reads, saddle up and come on down to Smiley Library for some non-fiction books that are sure to fill the bill!
“The Summer of 1876: Outlaws, Lawmen, and Legends in the Season that Defined the American West,” ties together several legendary individuals with the backdrop of other noteworthy historical events of that year. Names like Custer, Masterson, Hickok, Earp, James, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull are included. These are woven together and explored by author Chris Wimmer along with the beginnings of Major League Baseball, the Philadelphia World’s Fair, the invention of the telephone, the publication of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” and other events.
“Follow Me to Hell: McNelly’s Texas Rangers and the Rise of Frontier Justice,” delves into the adventures of Captain Leander McNelly and the inception of the Texas Rangers. Best-selling author Tom Clavin takes readers back to the origins of the dangerous pursuit of justice in Texas and the surrounding areas, including apprehending cattle rustlers and bandits, land skirmishes, and Civil War battles.
Nathan Ward shares a narrative of the same era in “Son of the Old West: The Odyssey of Charlie Siringo: Cowboy, Detective, Writer of the Wild Frontier.” Siringo lived his personal dream of being a cowboy, then became a detective with the Pinkerton Agency, an author, and also a consultant in the early years of Hollywood for Western films.
“Gentleman Bandit: The True Story of Black Bart, the Old West’s Most Infamous Stagecoach Robber,” by John Boessenecker is about Charles Boles, a wealthy and educated socialite that lived in San Francisco. His acquaintances had no idea that he was actually the very successful stagecoach robber, aka Black Bart.
Switching gears to where the old West meets modern day, Tracy Daugherty has authored “Larry McMurtry: A Life.” He chronicles the man and his works that surely come to mind when thinking of great Western books and screenplays. In addition to being a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, McMurtry was also passionate about collecting and selling books.
If you haven’t had your Western appetite quenched quite yet, you can hit the road, or be an armchair adventurer, and visit some of the notable places you have heard about in “Discovering the Outlaw Trail: Routes, Hideouts & Stories form the Wild West.” Mike Bezemek suggests driving, biking, camping, riding a train, and paddling your way along legendary outlaw routes. The book is divided into four sections: Discovering the Outlaw Trail, Stories from the Outlaw Trail, Traveling the Outlaw Trail, and The Ends of the Outlaw Trail-Stories Conclude. Color pictures and maps add to the enchantment of this fascinating travelogue.