"BBC filmmaker Slessor might seem like an unlikely writer to take on the American West, but his obvious enthusiasm for the region, many visits, and a year living and working in Nebraska should wipe away any concerns. Focused on history, especially the deeply personal history of small towns and the clash of truth and legend (his belief that Butch Cassidy survived and returned to the U.S. from Bolivia makes for an exceptionally convincing, myth-busting chapter), Slessor is funny, smart, and delightfully lively as he shares stories he found while on and off assignment in this legendary region. Each chapter delves into a fresh tale as he follows history’s trail from Lewis and Clark to the railroads, the gold rush, and Wounded Knee. Slessor has no grand pronouncements to make about what the frontier or its people mean to America, but he obviously loves the place and can’t get enough of it. He teases out plenty of new facets to make any reader happy, and has crafted what can easily be termed an armchair-traveler’s favorite kind of escape."--Booklist
“Perfect escapist entertainment as well as deep vicarious pleasure.”—TimeOut
“Slessor, a consummately gifted story-teller, has confronted his multi-layered task here with wit and panache in a couldn’t-put-it-down epic tale that kept me awake all night.”—Oxford Times
Many books about the American West leave out the more intriguing details…
For example, when, in 1803, the young USA doubled its size with the purchase from France of an unexplored vastness called La Louisiane, it was a British bank which lent the Americans most of the $15 million that they didn’t have. So, many of the financial papers for what is still the biggest real-estate deal in history are, to this day, held in a London vault.
If his ranching uncle-by-marriage had had his way, the teenaged Winston Churchill—a disappointing scholar—might have been sent west to Wyoming to train as a cowboy. Who knows but, in time, he himself might have become a rancher. How then would history have turned out?
Was Butch Cassidy really killed in a Bolivian shoot-out? It seems that he probably returned, under a false name, to live out his days in the West. In 1935 he even submitted an autobiographical script to Hollywood—only to have it rejected as being “too preposterous to be believable”. He died two years later, penniless.
“Royal tourist visits the Colonies” was the local headline. The Queen had jetted into the small town of Sheridan in Wyoming. First, she took an extended walkabout along Main Street and then she holidayed for several days on a friend’s ranch in the shadow of the Big Horn Mountains…
Working for the BBC, Tim Slessor has filmed and travelled “out West” for over forty years; indeed, at one time he quit his job to go and work for “a very happy year” in western Nebraska. In this book he selects a series of beguiling stories that range from the mountain men and their fur trade to the pioneers of the overland trail, from Custer and the disaster at the Little Big Horn to the last stand of the Sioux at Wounded Knee, from the early cow-towns and the railroads to the cattle barons and the emigrant sod-busters. Full of surprises and insights, Out West casts new and entertaining light on the history and personalities of the American West.
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