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10 Top Non-Fiction Old West Books
We searched long and hard through the treacherous backend roads of the Internet, with the aim of brushing up your knowledge on the best Western novels ever written. Feel free to disagree—but if you do, expect to be challenged to a good ol' Western showdown in the comments below. Locke, chronicles the escape of teenager Tot Lonham through the heart of Texas with the vengeful Boyd family in hot pursuit. Before there were Westerns, there was the Western, a novel called Riders of the Purple Sage , by Zane Grey, that is often credited for truly kick-starting the Western as a genre. It is the story of Jane Withersteen, a Utah rancher whose livelihood is threatened by a proposed marriage she does not want, until a lone cowboy named Lassiter comes to town. If the dove is a symbol of peace, the characters of Lonesome Dove , by Larry McMurtry, have yet to find it.
In those five years, I have received between and books a year from a broad swath of American and international publishers and authors. From a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography from one of the largest New York publishers to the self-funded, self-published first Old West novel, I have read and reviewed hundreds of books, and been grateful for each one sent my way. I have perused dozens of catalogs annually, scanned through thousands of pages of Internet research on authors and their topics, and had the pleasure to correspond, talk with and meet hundreds of men and women who write, edit, design, publish and market Western books. F rom to today, many prognosticators have written columns on the demise of the book and booksellers, the omnipotent power of Amazon, the transformative power of the e-book and the coming age of the audiobook. For those who love the West, its culture and people, its natural wonders and communities, I believe the trend foretells a positive future. All of us who love to read, write and publish about the Old West, in whatever format or formats we enjoy, now have choices.
Here is a list of non-fiction Old West books that is in no particular order. It is about what the Old West was really like from the eyes of gun fighters, Mountain Men.
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Son of the Morning Star
A I write this column from my desk in my office in Iowa City, Iowa, in October , reflecting on the past, present and future state of Western history and fiction publishing, I recall where I was 25 years ago. I was newly engaged to be married, a third-year graduate student in history at Arizona State University and I was working for editor Bob Early in my first year as the research editor at Arizona Highways magazine. Graduate students who attended local and national history association conventions discovered they were part of a larger academic movement that encouraged the abandonment of traditional Western American history research and publishing. From where I sit in Iowa City, I would have to answer yes, at least in academic publishing. So whom can True West readers count on for traditional Western history and biography in ? New York publishers will distribute about a dozen annually, as will Western historical societies. Self-publishers and publishing entrepreneurs should consider the opportunity to fill the void in Western history publishing—but beware the other academic prognostication 25 years hence—that the Internet would change the future of writing, research and the history academy.