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The American West Paperback – 4 May 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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  • The American West
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  • Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West
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  • Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; New Ed edition (4 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074349010X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743490108
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A riveting and definitive history of the West by the man who transformed our understanding of it' -- Matthew Engel, GUARDIAN

'With unerring eye and unflinching irony, Brown shows how history, myth and business worked hand in hand' -- NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

About the Author

Dee Brown is the author of the international bestseller BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE, which has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. He spent the early years of his life in the lumber camps and oil fields of the American South West, and went on to write more than twenty books relating to American frontier history. He died in December 2002.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Dee Brown is best known for his paradigm shifting best-seller, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (Arena Books) first published in 1972, written with such intensity and emotion that it is hard for a white American to read it without at least once the eyes watering up, in shame. Prior to that book, I, and many other Americans saw the settling of the West by the white man as one glorious enterprise. We had seen all too many "Westerners" on TV, with the wagon train filled with "innocent" white settlers being attacked by "savages," for no apparent reason. As is now revealed in narratives about the coming-of-age experience of many real Indians, the propaganda was so effective that EVEN the Indians who watched these shows would root for the cowboys. After his book, and much too late (and perhaps that is the real reason) many Americans realized there were numerous flaws in this mythology, which include a long string of broken treaties.

For no other than the above reasons, Brown's "The American West" deserves much consideration. The book is not "scholarly," which could be a recommendation for many, since that particular genre has its own flaws. Does it have an Indian "bias," as one reviewer charged, without giving a specific example? Well, if raising the issue of shredded treaties is "bias," Brown is guilty. And there is no unifying theme; it is a series of vignettes that focus on portions of the settlement experience, and include `whites only' stories, such as "The Saga of Dodge City" and "The Myth and its Makers."

Simply the pictures and the maps make the book a worthwhile purchase.
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Format: Paperback
The American West centers on three subjects: Native Americans, settlers, and ranchers. Dee Brown re-creates these groups struggles for their place in this new landscape and illuminates the history of the old West in a single volume, containing maps and vintage photographs. In his spirited telling of this national saga, Brown demonstrates once again his abilities as a storyteller and entertaining popular historian.

The American West is not an exhaustive study or history of the era, but a good starting point and introduction to a very important era of American history - if you just have a passing interest in the subject. The book does focus a lot on Native Americans and their wars and interaction with the settlers, soliders and ranchers. The other chapters in the book are quite secondary, providing a good overview of the development of the cattle industry, stories of colourful characters and events.

If you want an overview of the settling of the West, the cowboys, Native Americans, soldiers, dance hall girls, gamblers, settlers, thieves, con artists and more, this is a good start.
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A lot of the material about the Indian Wars overlaps with that in Brown's "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" but there is in addition interesting information about the cattle drives, cowboys, the colourful characters who lived and died in Abilene, Dodge City etc. I skipped quickly through the chapters on entertainments. Well worth reading but not in the same league as "Bury My Heart".
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Format: Paperback
This book is packed full of colourful characters and thrilling stories. Names I had vaguely heard and half remembered sprang into life in the pages; Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Crazy Horse, Geronimo ... even Calamity Jane turned out to have been a real woman long before Doris Day (Calamity Jane). I found plenty of detail about life in the 'Wild West' and the real world of Cowboys and Indians in the late 19th Century. The style of writing is clear and easy to read and the 'story' moves along quickly from scene to scene.

Yet, it was not an enjoyable read, and I found it hard going at times. The introduction describes how this material was first compiled to accompany three books of photographs (Indians, Cowboys and Settlers) and this shows in the finished work; each chapter sets its own scene, and there is little attempt to analyse, merge or draw together the threads of the different stories.

Thus, with the Indians (or Native Americans...), we have a separate chapter giving an account of each individual tribe as they are forced from their hunting grounds into reservations. Each story is depressingly similar, and I was left with little notion of the chronology, or of the overall government thinking that was guiding this policy. It would have helped me immensely if there had been a good introductory chapter outlining the framework of events and the reasons and motivations behind them, and perhaps a comparison of the various different tribes and how they related to each other.

Of the original Settlers, and the opening up of the American West, very little was said.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a must for anyone interested in the old American west. It's a great account of the history of the west and is delivered in a way that makes you feel like you are there.
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