Winning the Wild West: The Epic Saga of the American Frontier, 1800--1899

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9780743232913: Winning the Wild West: The Epic Saga of the American Frontier, 1800--1899

One of the greatest stories of nineteenth-century America is its expansion into the lands west of the Mississippi. Now acclaimed author Page Stegner shows in one sweeping volume how the opening of the western frontier ignited and defined a young nation's spirit of enterprise and discovery. Winning the Wild West is an illustrated celebration of that epoch, rich in the deeds and exploits of legendary and forgotten characters, replete with hundreds of never-before-published artifacts and archival images reproduced in full color. Stories of life on the frontier fire our imaginations, but Page Stegner looks upon this epic story with an unflinching gaze, recognizing, as Larry McMurtry notes in his foreword, how severe and equivocal the struggle to "win" the West was. Our great land was once filled with millions of buffalo that were needlessly slaughtered, the rivers of our heartland were also mismanaged, and California, the most western state, saw the complete eradication of native tribes now lost forever. The era's pioneers were often doing little more than clinging to life*with what little strength they had left. From Lewis and Clark to the massacre at Wounded Knee, Page Stegner re-creates an engrossing, gorgeous panorama of trappers, wagon trains, cattle drives, guns, gold rushes, outlaws, lawmen, settlers, buffalo hunters, railroads, cowboy hats, and barbed wire-the hard lives of the people and the items they carried that made a new culture, a new society...a new nation.

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About the Author:

Page Stegner is a novelist, literary critic, and journalist. He has written extensively on the American West, including a natural history of the Grand Canyon, and has been a frequent contributor to numerous publications, including Harper's, The Atlantic, Esquire, Audubon, Outside, The New York Review of Books, and Arizona Highways. From 1967 to 1995 he was Professor of American Literature, and Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He lives with his wife, Lynn Stegner, and his daughter, Allison, in Shelburne, Vermont.

From Library Journal:

Stegner (English, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz), a well-known essayist for periodicals like Harper's and Sierra magazine, here presents a survey of pioneer days in the 19th-century American West. The book chronologically explores various broad Old West topics in seven chapters that range from "Trappers and the Fur Trade" to "The Open Range." In addition to the main text, each chapter offers frequent breaks for a page or two on more specific sidebar subjects: for instance, the chapter on the open range offers an amusing piece called "The Hat That Won the West," accompanied by photographs of various cowboy hats and styles. Stegner's text reads easily and is richly illustrated with reproductions of well-known paintings and photographs, as well as images of common goods and of Western scenes today. The page layouts are well done, which is important with so many illustrations and quotations. If one wants to read a more scholarly, in-depth history of the American West, Robert V. Hine and John Mack Faragher's The American West: A New Interpretive History is a good place to start. For a well-rounded, entertaining, and educational survey, though, Stegner's book is hard to beat. Highly recommended for public libraries in particular and not a bad survey for the undergraduate either.
Charles V. Cowling, SUNY at Brockport Lib.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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