I’ve always been a fan of Old West history, particularly the stories of gunfights, the characters who settled western towns, the immigrants from all over the world who courageously left everything behind, jumping off in St. Louis and headed west. In the last few years, there’s been an uptick in western history books, not all that unlike what happened to the books chronicling the Civil War in the 1990s.
• Maybe the best regular source of such storytelling is found in the monthly magazine, True West, edited and published by Bob Boze Bell out of Cave Creek, Ariz. Bell is one of the most foremost western historians, combining thoughtful, thorough research-rich writing with his original art work. Bell is often seen in a number of television programs about the Old West as well. A few years ago, True West magazine honored Sheridan as the Number One Western Town. So there you go. For more: www.truewestmagazine.com.
• The connectivity of how we are not all that far removed from the Old West came up lately during a holiday weekend with an older brother. There’s a nifty little book, “Lady at the O.K. Corral,” by Ann Kirschner that details the life of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp. She and her famous lawman husband lived a hard, but colorful life after leaving Tombstone and the infamy of the O.K. Corral shootout. She died in 1944, a year after my older brother was born. He instilled in me a fondness for old television westerns and western histories, hence the connectivity. Ms. Marcus was portrayed in a couple of films about Earp. The best book on Earp is Casey Tefertiller’s, “Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend,” which came out in 1997.
• You can buy these books at our local book seller, Sheridan Stationery Books and Gallery, right there, smack in the middle of Sheridan’s Main Street. Thursday last, Robbie Smith hosted Sheridan County author Craig Johnson for a book signing with his latest Walt Longmire mystery, “A Serpent’s Tooth.” It’s being released today. The Wall Street Journal recently called the A&E series, “Longmire,” one of the best programs on television; and it is. There was a good crowd with slew of “hold-em” reservations until today’s book release. Author Johnson is quoted in the current True West edition talking about his next Walt Longmire novel, “Any Other Name,” which deals with missing women and a mysterious suicide in Wyoming’s coal country.
• The current True West magazine also features a story about western artist Charles M. Russell and mentions how some of his work is on display at The Brinton Museum in Big Horn. Recommend book on Russell: “Charles M. Russell: The Life and Legend of America’s Cowboy Artist by John Taliaferro. Favorite Russell work of art: The 1914 oil, ‘Whose Meat?,” where a hunter and a grizzly eye each other disputing the cowboy’s kill. For a long time, it was on display over in Cody at the Buffalo Bill Western Center/Museum.