Current reading 2023

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Current reading 2023

Jan 9, 1:56 pm

Time for a new thread for your current reads!

Editado: Jan 9, 7:50 pm

Here is my current Western Americana reading list for the new year in order of preference:

Silliman, Lee, ed. We Seized Our Rifles. Recollections of the Montana Frontier. Illus. Joe Boddy. Missoula, Mt.: Mountain Press, (1982). 214 pp. Reprinted 1984. A Rendezvous Book (series).

First-hand stories from Montana pioneers, including George Bird Grinnell, S. C. Ashby, John J. Healy (see next book), Cecil Denny (noted member of the NWMP) and others. I read a couple of the stories from this book some years ago while doing some research on C. E. Conrad, but will now read the entire book.

Tolton, Gordon E. Healy's West: The Life and Times of John J. Healy. Missoula, Montana: Mountain Press, 2014. 287 pp.; photos; extensive notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 978-0-87842-634-8.

John Healy was a fascinating man. He was at various times, a gold seeker, trader, sheriff, businessman, and entrepreneur. He wandered the West from Idaho to Montana to Alaska. I read this once, back in 2014 when it first came out, but I want to read it again because the man is just so interesting.

If you want to get a copy to read, I'd advise you get it directly from the publisher, as it will save you money. It's $21.84 at Amazon, but only $5.00!!! from the publisher. And you get a brand new copy.

Rea, Tom. The Hole in the Wall Ranch. A History. (Greybull, Wyoming): (Pronghorn Press, 2010). 247 pp; introduction, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 978-1-932636-69-7.

The Hole-in-the-Wall! Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid! They're here, in this book, and a whole lot more. The book tells the complete history of the working ranch located where the Middle Fork of the Powder River breaches the Red Wall and a lot more. Can't wait to dig in, after I finish the other two, that is.

Jan 19, 5:30 pm

Thanks for starting up the new list and sharing your next books Glacierman.

I kind of went on an end of the year shopping spree. Not sure about the reading order yet, but here's some of what I picked up:

American West An Appraisal-Papers from the Denver Conference on the History of Western America This is a 1963 publication when the Western History Association was new. In 1964 the WHA started publishing the quarterly magazine: The American West. In 1970 the WHA began publishing the Western Historical Quarterly (WHQ). I have a full run of these (1970-current) I've been trying to get loaded into my LibraryThing. I bunch of everything here subject wise, including Ramon Adams' "The Old-Time Cowhand."

The Cayuse Indians : Imperial Tribesmen of Old Oregon I have an ongoing interest in the tribes of the Pacific Northwest. The Cayuse lived in Washington State, Oregon, and Idaho mainly, but because of their expert horsemanship, they ranged quite far.

The Journal of John Work; a Chief-trader of the Hudson's Bay Co. during his expedition from Vancouver to the Flatheads and Blackfeet of the Pacific Northwest Now we're journeying a little further into Montana and East up the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Chief Seattle's Unanswered Challenge : Spoken on the Wild Forest Threshold of the City that Bears his Name, 1854 A speech attributed to the Suquamish chief with much controversy surrounding it. Answering Chief Seattle A 1997 publication trying to sort through the history of Seattle's speech. To be read together when I do. My great-great grandmother was Suquamish and I have a great interest in this tribe, and Seattle, the city I was born in and reside.

The Cartography of the Northwest Coast of America to the Year 1800 Henry Wagner's masterpiece on costal exploration. Helps me with my "map thing." A beautiful publication. Hits every reason why I love books.

Mar 21, 9:15 pm

Add to the 2023 list: Traits of American Indian Life & Character Probably could post this one over at the Fine Press group. This is a fine copy of #9 in the Grabhorn Press Rare Americana series. Beautiful classic book from the fur trade era usually attributed to Peter Skene Ogden. I'll see if I can figure out how to post a photo...

Editado: Mar 21, 11:49 pm

Any clear instructions on how to take a photo from the "junk drawer" and drop it here?

Editado: Mar 21, 10:46 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Editado: Mar 21, 11:48 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Mar 22, 9:47 am

>5 Mechan1c: This is the link that has instructions on using HTML tags in LibraryThing. The information on inserting images is about half-way down the page.

HelpThing:Html tips

Mar 22, 10:09 am

>5 Mechan1c: I usually store images at and link to it using the 'href' HTML tag.

Mar 22, 6:21 pm

Thanks both, I'll try some more. I can be tech challenged at times!

Editado: Mar 28, 9:12 pm

I just finished War on the Border: Villa, Pershing, the Texas Rangers and the Invasion of America by Jeff Guinn. I wish more western US history was taught in school. For some reason I had Pancho Villa as existing many years earlier instead of during World War I. I found this book fascinating.

I also went to the library book sale last weekend and picked up The Heart of Everything That Is by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, Trail of Tears by John Ehle and Thunder in the Mountains by Daniel J. Sharfstein. I was surprised to find them as I no longer live in the western part of the country and don't find a lot of books like this.

I am currently reading Cattle Kingdom by Christopher Knowlton

Mar 28, 11:32 pm

>11 daxxh: I read Cattle Kingdom a while ago, I enjoyed it.

Regarding Pershing's Punitive Expedition, I can recommend Chasing Villa: The Last Campaign of the U.S. Cavalry by Colonel Frank Tompkins, a participant in the events. Also a broader look at events, Intervention!: The United States and the Mexican Revolution, 1913-1917 by John S. D. Eisenhower. And a more unusual option, A Preliminary to War: The 1st Aero Squadron and the Mexican Punitive Expedition of 1916 by Roger G. Miller, short but very interesting.

Currently I'm reading The Comanchero Frontier: A History of New Mexican-Plains Indian Relations by Charles L. Kenner. Somewhat in an academic style, not unexpected since it was originally Kenner's PhD thesis, it is nevertheless very informative.

Editado: Jun 15, 1:08 pm

Just started re-reading Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver by J. Frank Dobie. I first read this fascinating book on lost mines and buried treasure about twenty years ago and thought I'd make another vicarious visit to the SW. Interesting stuff.

Editado: Jul 11, 11:39 am

New here. Pocket bio: Retired humanities teacher, residing in Tlaxcala, Mexico, with two dogs and six indoor cats. Passionate about literature, history, philosophy, classical music and opera, jazz, cinema, and similar subjects. Nostalgic guy. Politically centrist. BA in American Studies from Yale; MAs in English and Education from Boston University. Born in northern New Jersey. Have lived and worked in San Francisco, Chicago, northern Nevada, northeast Wisconsin, South Korea.

Here is a list of books that I am either currently reading (*) or have recently finished, that fall under the broad heading Western Americana. You’ll notice that I have a particular passion for Nevada history, having once taught a course on it.

Is there a thread, or would it be appropriate to have a thread, on fiction of the American West - not so much “Westerns” per se, although inclusive of them, but literary fiction by writers such as Paul Horgan, Wallace Stegner, and Walter Van Tilburg Clark?

Robert F. Gish, Frontier’s End: The Life and Literature of Harvey Fergusson
James W. Hulse, The Silver State: Nevada’s Heritage Reinterpreted
Gilman M. Ostrander, Nevada: The Great Rotten Borough, 1859-1964 *
Rodman Wilson Paul, Mining Frontiers of the Far West, 1848-1880
Arthur King Peters, Seven Trails West
Jordan Fisher Smith, Nature Noir: A Park Ranger’s Patrol in the Sierra
Peter Stark, Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire
Edwin A Tucker / George Fitzpatrick, Men Who Matched the Mountains: The Forest Service in the Southwest *
Mark Twain, Roughing It *
Robert P. Wilkins / Wynona H. Wilkins, North Dakota: A Bicentennial History

Jul 11, 10:31 pm

>14 PatrickMurtha: Is there a thread, or would it be appropriate to have a thread, on fiction of the American West - not so much “Westerns” per se, although inclusive of them, but literary fiction by writers such as Paul Horgan, Wallace Stegner, and Walter Van Tilburg Clark?

Please! Feel free to start such a thread! That could easily include A. B. Guthrie, Jr., Ivan Doig, Norman Maclean, etc.

But not so much Louis L'Amour, Max Brand, Zane Grey, etc., etc.

-- Richard

Jul 11, 11:13 pm

Yes, those writers, and Harvey Fergusson, Frank Waters, H.L. Davis, Archie Binns, Mari Sandoz, James Welch, Vardis Fisher, Frederick Manfred are some others that come to mind. I am not as well read in this area as I would like to be, but I am interested.

Editado: Jul 22, 4:41 pm

An upcoming biography of Charlie Siringo, Son of the Old West, published officially on September 5, looks promising. I read Siringo’s own A Texas Cowboy for Howard R. Lamar’s Western history class at Yale in the late 1970s. J. Frank Dobie has a good chapter on Siringo in Prefaces.

Jul 26, 9:48 am

Just started Christian Holmes’ Company Towns of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Seems a little specialized? Well, pull up a chair…

Local history is a distinctive branch of publication, and one dear to my own heart. Much of it is produced and distributed locally, by small presses, state and municipal historical associations, museums, etc, and may not be obtainable through Amazon or conventional sources. Looking for a specific older piece of local history literature can be as daunting as seeking a rare edition of an obscure novelist.

Much of this material is “non-book” and even downright ephemera: periodicals, booklets, brochures, flyers. Much of it is produced by dedicated non-professionals.

When I lived in Northeast Wisconsin in the Oughties, I was really involved in local history - and arts, economic development, small town revitalization, journalism; too much really, but it was fun. For several years I lived in the town of Little Chute, on the Fox River between Appleton and Green Bay, one of the most Dutch-American municipalities in the country. I was very active in the Little Chute Historical Society and Little Chute Windmill Association (which eventually succeeded in its goal of building an authentic Dutch windmill as an attraction).

I also served on the Editorial Board of Voyageur Magazine, “Northeast Wisconsin's Historical Review”. This was a great gig! I got to review and comment on submissions for the magazine, and the Board met quarterly to hash out the contents of future issues. Those sessions were intensely stimulating, because we had the cream of local history professors, librarians, and dedicated amateurs on the Board.

Here in Mexico, government funding for local history publishing is EXCELLENT, way exceeding the US on a per capita basis. Every Mexican state capital seems to have at least one bookstore devoted to local history, and the number of very substantial publications on offer is simply amazing.

I would be most interested to learn what the situation is in other nations in this respect. I would assume that the conditions are good in the UK, which has long been a bastion of local history, but elsewhere I don’t know.

Jul 26, 11:35 am

Patrick, Your mentioning of non-book ephemera type publications has me thinking about adding a LT tag just so I can sort them another way. I've found a lot of gems over the years.

Jul 26, 11:48 am

>19 Mechan1c: It is a rich and very underexplored field. I’m sure that, like me, you have found nice items at local museums and historic sites. This is an area where I can confidently say, Buy it when you see it - you might not see it again.

Jul 26, 11:50 am

Like most states, local history in Montana and Wyoming is published by local historical societies and museums or by a local historian.

One such volume is Muscle, Grit and Big Dreams, Earliest Towns of the Upper Flathead Valley 1872-1891 by Carle O'Neil, a local (Big Fork, Montana) historian. It very thoroughly documents the now oft forgotten towns that once dotted the Flathead valley, but are now reduced to a place names only, if that. Towns like Holt, which is remembered today only by the name of a road, Holt Stage Road, which was originally, yes, the stage coach road to it. And Ashley, a small town that was absorbed into the ever-growing seat of Flathead county, Kalispell. His research was, as ever, thorough, and the book is of great value to local history, but is, alas!, long OP.

Local history is a fascinating subject, and its works are quite variable in quality, but well worth seeking out if you have any interest at all in your area.

Jul 26, 11:50 am

>20 PatrickMurtha: "Buy it when you see it - you might not see it again."

Oh, so true, so true!

Jul 26, 12:11 pm

>21 Glacierman: I immediately looked for that book on Bookfinder, and there don’t appear to be any copies on the market right now. This is exactly what I mean about such items being elusive. And if you find them, they might be pricey.

One often overlooked resource is the invaluable Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing, which numbers more than 9,000 volumes (!). These are photo-histories with accompanying text, often written by a diligent local amateur historian. We have all seen these for sale in tourist locations. I have read a number of them. Variable in quality, as you say, but great fun.

Jul 26, 1:58 pm

>23 PatrickMurtha: I bought my copy locally right after it was published. Haven't seen it since. There was talk a while back of reprinting it, but I don't know if that ever came to pass.

Jul 26, 3:02 pm

>24 Glacierman: Small print runs + limited distribution = instant rarities!

Editado: Jul 27, 9:15 am

Among the rather specialized titles I’m currently reading is Farm Broadcasting: The First Sixty Years (1981). I’d like to own it, but hard copies are pretty pricey and it can be read for free online:

When I was a New Jersey kid waking up gosh darn early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons like Colonel Bleep and Dodo the Kid from Outer Space at 6 AM, there were farm programs scheduled even earlier - Modern Farmer or Agriculture USA * at 5:30 AM. This Baker book includes info about the latter, which started on KNBC in Los Angeles in 1961, produced and hosted by John A. Stearns, and was widely syndicated over the next two decades. Information about the production history of Modern Farmer is more elusive, even though I’ve seen old New York Times TV listings for it, and many people online remember the show. No footage from either series on YouTube - probably all wiped a long time ago.

The book contains proportionately much more information about farm radio, surveying the field state by state. I love forgotten pockets of media history like this.

* Also the title of a USDA radio series produced in the 1950s.

Editado: Jul 28, 9:40 am

I comb through the notes and bibliographies of any non-fiction book I am reading and make lists of follow-up books and articles, frequently buying one or two immediately and putting others on the to buy / locate list. Of course, this strategy leads me in new directions, which is part of the point.

Here is an excellent example: In the end notes of Robert F. Gish’s fine biography of New Mexico-born novelist Harvey Fergusson, Frontier’s End: The Life and Literature of Harvey Fergusson, there is a reference to Men Who Matched the Mountains: The Forest Service in the Southwest, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1972. Well this sounded interesting. So I poked around, and found a beautiful dust-jacketed copy signed by one of the authors, George Fitzpatrick, at an extremely reasonable price. Snapped it right up. And now that I have it and am reading it, it is indeed very interesting!

Although I haven’t the money to be a real book collector, I am always happy to own interesting things. Perhaps it just as well that I have to buy online now, instead of having access to used bookshops, because the problem with those is that my interests have broadened to the extent that I want to at least look at everything in the shop, and then desire to buy way too much.

Jul 28, 6:18 pm

>27 PatrickMurtha: "...problem with those is that my interests have broadened to the extent that I want to at least look at everything in the shop, and then desire to buy way too much."

I think that is a problem many of us have! I certainly do. Fortunately, my desires are rarely within my budget, so I perforce have to keep those impulses down.

Jul 28, 6:53 pm

>28 Glacierman: Yes, my retirement budget imposes limitations on my spending. But that is one reason why I live in Mexico, more bang for my buck here and more left over for books.

Jul 30, 9:32 am

I love history books of the past because they were not written for us, nor with our preoccupations in mind; they had no way of knowing what our preoccupations would BE. They do provide a sense of the time when they were written, as well as the specific past they were written about. I don’t generally see them as “superseded”; they are informative. Whether the theory-ridden, hectoring books of today will hold up as well remains to be seen.

The 50-volume Chronicles of America series published by Yale University Press in 1918 makes for delightful reading, and are very handsome hand-sized volumes as well. I have read Charles M. Andrews’ Colonial Folkways: A Chronicle of American Life in the Reign of the Georges and Maud Wilder Goodwin’s Dutch and English on the Hudson: A Chronicle of Colonial New York, and am just about to start Emerson Hough’s The Passing of the Frontier; A Chronicle of the Old West.

Jul 30, 10:06 am

I am reading the States and the Nation series of bicentennial histories; ex-library copies can be had very inexpensively. (I get this uneasy feeling that libraries don’t hold onto anything anymore, but are in a constant itch to deaccession.)

I read North Dakota first, because who knows anything about North Dakota? And it was fascinating. Now I am starting South Carolina, because my sister was until recently living in Charleston. And I have New Hampshire in my possession.

A nice feature of the series is the inclusion of a photographic essay about the state in each volume. The notes and bibliographies are excellent, and are hard on my wallet, because I have discovered MANY books that I want to have.

A benefit of reading these books is that I afterwards feel a deeper connection to that state, that I kind of “own” it, because how many residents of a state have read a full-length history of their home? One in a thousand? Probably not even that many.

So even though North Dakota is one of the few states that I haven’t visited, because it is not on the way to anything and requires a separate trip, I now feel very possessive of North Dakota. Did you know that Lawrence Welk’s distinctive accent was North Dakota Russo-German? He didn’t learn English until he was an adult.

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