The Wild West: Cowboys, Outlaws and Everything in Between: A Reading List

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 1:44pm -- baglio

With winter upon us, we can certainly get the blues. The snow, the wind and the temperatures can keep us frigid. To combat the winter doldrums, lets warm our minds with tales of Outlaws, of lawlessness, and rugged cowboys. Lets look to the wild west and the blazing sun that shines upon it to heat up the day, From Zane Grey's classic tales, to Clint Eastwood's appearance on the big screen, tales of the wild west vividly take us to a romantic time in American history. These books and integral films will take us back to a period when the west was won, or sometimes lost; a time when the six shooter was the law.  

Cowboys & Images: The Watercolors of William Matthews

By, William Matthews

The West has attracted many wonderful painters over the years, but rarely has any one of them introduced a new vision of the region and its inhabitants. William Matthews had already made a name for himself as a watercolorist when he began to paint cowboys and their world in 1985. Associated with the revival of cowboy poetry and music fostered by the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, Matthews brought a fresh and unexpected viewpoint to this classic American figure.


British Gentlemen in the Wild West:  The Era of the Intensely English Cowboy

By, Lawrence M. Woods

These were not effete English looking for cheap thrills. This book tells of the tough ones that came over to help settle the west.


A Century of Great Western Stories-An Anthology of Western Fiction

By John Jakes

John Jakes, #1 New York Times bestselling author of such acclaimed historical novels as North and South and The Kent Family Chronicles has long been both a fan and a distinguished author of novels and stories of the American West. Now, with the turning of the millennium, he has compiled in one volume a century's worth of his favorite Western fiction. To illustrate the evolution of the genre, Jakes has included such legendary authors as Owen Wister, Louis L'Amour, and Zane Grey along side their more contemporary peers such as Loren Estleman and Elmer Kelton. While the stories have changed over the years, certain timeless themes of Western fiction remain constant. At the heart of the stories are ideas that have become synonymous with the American dream---the frontier spirit, individual freedoms, and man's relationship with the land. A Century of Great Western Stories is essentially a retrospective of western writing over the past century, but Jakes also sets out to give readers a glimpse of what the future might hold for western fiction. While trends in publishing might not always be promising, the current crop of contemporary Western authors show that the old west will always have a place in the world of fiction. Like the American dream which it celebrates, Western fiction will perservere.


By, Robert B. Parker

Features the main characters first introduced in Appaloosa- now a major motion picture from New Line Cinema.

A greedy mine owner threatens the coalition of local ranchers in the town of Resolution, pitching two honorable gunfighters, Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, into a make-shift war that'll challenge their friendship -and the violently shifting laws of the West.

Broken Trail

By, Alan Geoffrion

Fulcrum's first novel and the inspiration for the AMC original miniseries starring Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church. The story follows the lives of five Chinese women brought to Wyoming to serve as prostitutes in an outpost town, a common practice of the time. Their fates intertwine with those of two western horsemen--one of which, Print Ritter (Duvall's character), undergoes a period of personal growth, from rough-and-tumble cowboy to father figure.

The Dude Ranger

By, Zane Grey

Ernest Shelby, New York man-about-town, arrives in Winston, Arizona, to claim his late uncle's estate - a big cattle ranch named Red Rock. He intends to sell the property and return east but when he discovers, before going to the ranch, that more than half of Red Rock's 10,000 head of cattle has disappeared mysteriously, so he stays on to investigate. His suspicions center on Sam Hepburn, a local big-shot who operated the ranch for Shelby's uncle. Hepburn's spoiled and imperious daughter, Anne, goes to Winston to collect the ranch payroll and is held up on the way back. But Shelby rescues her and chases off the bandits. Anne accuses him of staging the hold-up to impress her. Dave Hyslip, Hepburn's foreman, is resentful of any any attentions paid to Anne. When Ernest arrives at the ranch, he is mistaken as a cowhand looking for a job and Hyslip, unaware of his identity at the time, hires him. Later, Hyslip, responsible for the rustling, places a rattlesnake in Ernest's bunk, but he is saved by Nebraskee. Ernest and Nebraskee locate a secret canyon, and an incident they observe convince him that Anne's father is indeed behind the rustling. He isn't but it appears that Hyslip will get away free until George learns the reason for Hepburn's mysterious activities.


Last Go Round

By Ken Kesey and Ken Babs

It was around a sagebrush campfire in eastern Oregon that Kesey first heard the tale from his father - about the legendary "last go round" that took place at the original Pendleton Round Up in 1911. Hundreds of riders were competing for the first World Championship Broncbusting title, but it was one special trio of buckeroos that provided the drama: a popular black cowboy, George Fletcher; a Nez Perce Indian cowboy, Jackson Sundown; and a fresh-faced kid from Tennessee name of Johnathan E. Lee Spain. Who would walk away with the prize money and the silver-studded saddle? When the dust cleared, everyone knew they'd witnessed something extraordinary.

Kesey has journeyed back into Oregon history to reclaim this long-remembered moment, beefed up the bare bones of fact, and whipped them into a full-blown rip-snorting Tale of the True West. Sixteen pages of rare Round Up photographs provide graphic testimony of the time. The tiny town of Pendleton is swollen to bursting that memorable weekend and bristling with colorful characters like Buffalo Bill Cody, wrestler Frank "The Cruel Crusher" Gotch, cowgirl Prairie Rose Henderson, and a formidable medicine man named Parson Montanic. From the teepees along the river to the teeming saloons on Main Street, Round Up fever blazes like a prairie fire. This story of love, sweat, and horseflesh is a unique Western, wild and wooly and full of fleas. Let 'er buck!

All the Pretty Horses

By, Cormac McCarthy

The national bestseller and the first volume in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy, All the Pretty Horses is the tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself.  With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey to a place where dreams are paid for in blood.  Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.

Clint Eastwood Western Icon Collection: (High Plains Drifter / Joe Kidd / Two Mules For Sister Sara)

With his steely-eyed stare and one of the most commanding screen presences of all time, Clint Eastwood is a true American icon to film fans everywhere. Join him in the Clint Eastwood: Western Icon Collection in three of his most popular films: High Plains Drifter, Joe Kidd and Two Mules for Sister Sara. This powerful, must-have collection showcases Clint Eastwood in some of the toughest and most unforgettable roles of his career. High Plains Drifter When "The Stranger" (Clint Eastwood) rides into the sin-ridden town of Lago, bullets fly as he battles three ruthless gunmen in a pulse-pounding shoot-'em-up. Joe Kidd Gunslinger Joe Kidd (Clint Eastwood) is hired by a wealthy landowner (Robert Duvall) to quell a range war with Mexican revolutionaries, but he soon finds his loyalties in question when he falls for a beautiful rebel. Two Mules for Sister Sara A hard-hitting drifter (Clint Eastwood) and a unusual nun (Shirley MacLaine) set off on an action-packed adventure when they join a band of freedom fighters in their mission to capture a well-protected enemy garrison.


Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris star in his unsparing Western saga of a man who cannot escape his violent destiny. Heroes and legends rise and fall on the harsh American frontier in Unforgiven. Eleven years have passed since Billy Munny (Eastwood) laid down his weapons, dedicating himself to his young children and struggling farm. But when a huge bounty lures Munny back into action with his loyal partner, Ned Logan (Freeman), the tortured former gunslinger faces vicious sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Bill Hackman) and the lethally elegant mercenary English Bob (Harris). Even more terrifying, Munny finds himself regressing into the cold-blooded killer he once was.


The Branch and the Scaffold

By, Loren D. Estleman

When Judge Isaac Parker first arrived in Fort Smith, Arkansas, the town had thirty saloons and one bank. Inheriting a corrupt court and a lawless territory roughly the size of Great Britain, he immediately put the residents on notice by publicly hanging six convicted felons at one time. For the next two decades, his stern and implacable justice brought law and order to the West . . . and made him plenty of enemies. As the sole law on the untamed frontier, Parker tried civil and criminal cases throughout the Western District of Arkansas and the Indian Nations. Only God and the president had the power to challenge Parker. His severe judgments scandalized Washington and the Eastern press, and took an onerous toll on his private life, but the "Hanging Judge of the Border" never flinched from his duty. Over the years, he and his marshals, dubbed "Parker's Men," ran up against some of the most colorful and dangerous outlaws the West had to offer, including the notorious Dalton Gang; Belle Star, the Bandit Queen; the murderous Cherokee Bill; and Ned Christie, a vengeful Indian who carried on a private war against the U.S. government for seven years.

The Branch and the Scaffold is a fascinating depiction of Judge Parker's life and times, as told by Loren D. Estleman, a five-time winner of the Spur Award.


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

By, Michael Wallis

After reading Wallis's lively history, even readers who had never heard of the 101 Ranch will feel as if they've known of it all their lives. At its height, George W. Miller's 101 Ranch, so named in 1893, covered 110,000 acres in what is now Oklahoma. It was not only a ranching empire but also a western legend. In fact, as Wallis (Route 66: the Mother Road) tells it, the 101 played a critical role in creating the West as it came to exist in the American popular imagination. The 101 staged elaborate Wild West shows and was largely responsible for Hollywood's infatuation with the West (which in turn was responsible for the country's infatuation). Will Rogers, Tom Mix and the famous African-American cowboy Bill Pickett performed in the 101's shows, and the ranch itself was a favorite filming location for many early Hollywood westerns. Readers will quickly turn the pages, as Wallis portrays larger-than-life characters such as Lucille Mulhall, billed as the "original cowgirl," of whom Wallis writes: "Weighing less than a pair of fancy Mexican saddles, Lucille not only threw steers and busted broncs but also stalked prairie wolves, branded cattle, and roped as many as eight running range horses at once. She was an absolute showstopper." Miller's sons kept the 101 alive until the Depression, after which the ranch was divided into small farms. Full of amazing storiesAvirtually a who's who of popular Western cultureAWallis's book tells a tale of people in whom genuine accomplishment and show-biz promotion fused in a marriage as quintessentially American as the idea of the Wild West itself. 


Shot All to Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest Escape

By, Mark Lee Gardner

Shot All to Hell by Mark Lee Gardner recounts the thrilling life of Jesse James, Frank James, the Younger brothers, and the most famous bank robbery of all time. Follow the Wild West’s most celebrated gang of outlaws as they step inside Northfield’s First National Bank and back out on the streets to square off with heroic citizens who risked their lives to defend justice in Minnesota.  With compelling details that chronicle the two-week chase that followed—the near misses, the fateful mistakes, and the bloody final shootout on the Watonwan River, Shot All to Hell is a galloping true tale of frontier justice from the author of To Hell on a Fast Horse: The Untold Story of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Mark Lee Gardner.