I bought this book to try and find out information about two possibly related questions, these being - did the Wild West show end up stranded in Glasgow when the advent of cinema put it out of business? - and did an Indian lady from the circus marry and leave descendants who now inhabit the village I live in?
Unfortunately I did not get any clear answers to the above, just tantalising snippets of information. I've passed the book on to one of the
descendants of this lady to see if he can find something I might have missed. So this book may be of particular poignant importance to one family.
As for the book, you get what it states on the cover, an authoritative, scholarly investigation of the phenomenal entertainment that Buffalo Bill provided for the masses. The detail does get a bit mind numbing at times and I found myself skip reading some chapters. However this book can be regarded as addressing a need for information about a specialist niche subject, namely Buffalo Bill in Scotland; indeed the author goes to some lengths to dispel various bits of disinformation that have been accepted as gospel in scholarly circles. As for myself I have been astonished to learn that some nondescript areas of ground I have visited, once were full of the excitement and noise of the Rough Riders and the Wild West show. I have a strong suspicion that the influences of these shows linger in the collective consciousness of Scots today, given the affinity to all things of the Wild West present in our society, a unique Scottish/American gestalt if you like. Take me for example, I had always desired a "cowboy suit" since age four and finally got one, aged fifty two, when visiting Arizona! Was this because I unknowingly grew up beside a park where the Wild West show had been staged? Who knows :) energies from the past have a way of persisting in some places. My pals and I played "cowboys and indians" with vehemence and flair over the same ground about 50 years later.
Mention is made of the Lakota ghost shirt and the ghost dances (performed in Scotland as an entertainment!) and Glasgow museums are commended for returning this and other objects to the Lakota. The ghost dances are another area of fascination, what were their medicine men actually seeing? Like Sitting Bull and his vision of "the US soldiers falling from the sky like crickets", I suspect the ghost dance vision was misinterpreted given the woe and massacre that followed trying to put the vision into action. The vision remains an unfulfilled prophecy, if valid; indeed Prophecy is rarely immediate. There is some content about this aspect of Native American culture, and indeed this is reflected in the book's title, but indepth analysis of this tragic episode in Native American history is not present as it just pre-dates the sequence of events described in this book, though some of the major players in the Ghost Dance rituals were paroled to Buffalo Bill to take part in his shows! Like any good book about a complex subject it opens other avenues for the reader to explore if so minded.
In summary,if you have any curiosity regarding the Buffalo Bill phenomenon then this book will be of interest to you. If you are a scholar interested in this subject then the book is a "must buy". If you are interested in Native American culture, as I am, then the book fleshes out personalities and events found as footnotes or asides in other works - so the book can be classed as recommended reading in this category. I enjoyed the book, reading it in stages, and am now more appreciative of what Buffalo Bill contributed in his day to the societies he visited with the Wild West show.
Ratings? 3 star for the general reader, 5 star for the scholar, so a strong 4 stars overall.