The Real Wild West: The 101 Ranch and the Creation of the American West

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9780312192860: The Real Wild West: The 101 Ranch and the Creation of the American West

Cowboy theatrics and rich American history are revealed in this chronicle of the famous Wild West review that brings together Geronimo, Buffalo Bill, Will Rogers, and many others to explore the grandeur, and the tragedy, of the American West. 25,000 first printing. Tour.

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Review:

Although not as renowned as Buffalo Bill Cody, Joseph Miller and his brothers were in many ways as impressive as impresarios. Their Wild West shows, which competed with Cody's show and the Ringling Brothers' circuses, featured talent like Will Rogers and Tom Mix and significantly influenced American mass entertainment. In The Real Wild West, Michael Wallis makes a case that the Millers didn't just invent the romantic West but lived it as well.

Like Cody before them, the Millers took their cues from the frontier, largely because they played a significant part in its conquest. The family's rambunctious Kentuckian patriarch, George Washington Miller, abandoned the bluegrass of his home state to raise cattle on the greener pastures of the plains. His sons followed suit, but in 1905, a rodeo at the 101, their 100,000-acre-plus Oklahoma ranch, for the National Editorial Association led to a new career in popular entertainment. Within a decade, film producer Thomas Ince had set up shop nearby, utilizing talent from the 101 for his westerns. (It was Ince's mysterious death, combined with revelations of financial chicanery, that ultimately destroyed the enterprise in the 1920s.)

Wallis doesn't sugarcoat accusations of murder and illegal financial maneuverings on the part of the Millers, instead making interesting parallels between their ruthlessness and business acumen and the romantic vision of the West they presented to early-20th-century audiences. His account is also notable for its numerous biographies of 101 performers--people like Princess Wenona, the Native American rival to Annie Oakley, and Bill Pickett, an African American cowhand who founded most of the events on the professional rodeo circuit--and conveys the enthusiasm many must have felt during the Wild West shows' heyday. --John M. Anderson

From the Publisher:

"It's hard to imagine a better fit between subject and author than Michael Wallis and the 101 Ranch. Michael Wallis's deep knowledge of Oklahoma--both its history and character--enables him to tell the story of this legendary group of entrepreneurs and ranch hands with vividness and verve. The book is a very good read." --Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove

"For decades the story of 101 Ranch and the Miller family has delighted young and old alike. I was privileged to know quite a few of the 101 gang such as Tom Mix, Ken Maynard, Buck Jones, Will Rogers, and Yakima Canutt. The stories they could tell left you breathless and wanting more. Michael Wallis's book will serve as an outstanding and entertaining guide to an institution that has played a significant role in the history of our great country." --Gene Autry

"There are no better stories than those of the Miller brothers and the 101 Ranch. There is no other writer who could have re-created the fun and games and drama of this extraordinary saga better than Michael Wallis. Every character and episode spring and hump and vibrate from page to page, happening to happening. To borrow a relative term--this book is a hoot!" --Jim Lehrer

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