Posts Tagged ‘details of old west’

Appaloosa

February 15, 2012

Author: Robert B. Parker

Title: Appaloosa

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 276

Geographical Setting: “untamed territories of the West”

Time Period: 1800s

Series (If applicable): 1st of the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch Series

Plot Summary: Renegade rancher Randall Bragg and his men have been living off the citizens of the small Western mining town of Appaloosa “like coyotes live off a buffalo carcass.” After Bragg kills the last marshal and deputy, Appaloosa’s aldermen hire town tamers Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch to restore order in the town. Things seem OK after Bragg’s trial, but some twists, turns, and deception threaten the peace Cole and Hitch have brought to Appaloosa.

Subject Headings: Deputy marshals; Wanderers and wandering; Honor in Men; Ranchers Men – Friendship; Fugitives; Escaped convicts; Gunfighters; Outlaws; Small town life – The West (United States); Gunfights; Manipulation by women; Men/women relations; Cole, Virgil; Hitch, Everett

Appeal: Fast-paced, Atmospheric, Strong sense of place, Gritty, Hard-edged, Well-drawn characters, Familiar, Cinematic, plot-centered, Details of old West, Spare, Homespun,Witty

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Fast-paced; Atmospheric; Gritty.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Wallis, Michael. Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride. “Both the facts and the legend pick up in 1877, when Henry—already known to some under the alias Kid—shot a man who was bullying him and began a life on the run. Wallis’s reconstruction of the Kid’s exploits is engrossing. But even more, Wallis (Route 66 ) shows Billy the Kid as a product of his era, one of profound social dislocation. Billy the Kid was, indeed, only the most legendary of a generation of ‘desperate men’ who knew how to handle a gun. Wallis, the host of PBS’s new American Roads , writes clean prose, occasionally enlivened by a particularly lovely turn of phrase (“the liquid rustle of cottonwood leaves”). The writing style of Billy the Kid may appeal to reader’s who enjoyed Appaloosa‘s spare but witty dialogue.

Guinn, Jeff.  The Last Gunfight: the real story of the shootout at the O.K. Corral—and how it changed the America West. “Describing the many social, political and other forces that set the stage for the gunfight (including new edicts regarding arrests and carrying guns), Guinn details the historic events of the cold afternoon of Oct. 26, 1881: drunken outlaw Ike Clanton’s wild threats against Wyatt Earp and Holliday; Virgil’s attempt (together with his brothers and Doc) to disarm Ike and his cowboy buddies; and the 30-second exchange of gunfire that left three cowboys dead. Just the facts—and still a great story” (Kirkus).  Like Appaloosa, The Last Gunfight is a fast-paced and compelling read that looks at lawmen who make laws and decisions that may straddle the line between right and wrong.

Tefertiller, Casey. Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend.  “Using a wide variety of primary sources, Tefertiller manages to summon up a human, complex figure and, while not omitting flaws, to persuasively demonstrate that Earp believed in the law and did his best in hard times to defend it. A great adventure story, and solid history” (Kirkus). Though fictional, Cole and Hitch also believe in and do their best to uphold the law, though all three are flawed characters.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Estelemen, Loren – Aces and Eights is the “dramatic account of the death of gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok and the trial of Jack McCall, the man hanged for the murder of Deadwood’s legendary marshal” (NoveList). Like Appaloosa, Aces and Eights is a fast-paced, atmospheric Western that revolves around a murdered marshal.

Leonard, Elmore.  Hombre features “John Russell, a young man nicknamed Hombre by the Apaches who raised him, has a deadly confrontation with a determined gang of stagecoach robbers” (book description).  Leonard and Parker both write Mysteries and fast-paced, atmospheric and gritty Westerns with a darker mood.

Kelton, Elmer – Texas Standoff: a novel of the Texas Rangers. “Newly married Texas Ranger Andy Pickard and his new partner, Logan Daggett, investigate a series of murders and cattle thefts in central Texas, a task complicated by a gang of masked vigilantes and the appearance of a notorious gunman” (NoveList). Both Appaloosa and Texas Standoff are fast-paced and atmospheric with a strong sense of place that center around two lawmen partners.

Ally C.

The Lone Ranger, Volumes 1 and 2

March 18, 2009

Author: Matthews, Brett (writer) and Cariello, Sergio (illustrator)
Title: The Lone Ranger
Genre: Graphic Novel; Western
Publication Date: 2007; 2008
Number of Pages: 160 p.; 140 p.
Geographical Setting: Texas, Wyoming, other Western locations
Time Period: 1869
Series: The Lone Ranger. Serial comic book, series continues to present

Plot Summary: A “reboot” of the iconic Western story—which has been a serial staple for decades, on radio, in film, on television, and in books and comics—Brett Matthews and Sergio Cariello’s new comic The Lone Ranger goes back to the roots of the mysterious masked hero, skillfully and engagingly revealing his family history, his the origin of his friendship with Tonto, his motivation to become a masked vigilante, and the development of his particular “no-kill” moral code. The hero’s origins are revealed in flashbacks presented throughout the series, and the first twelve issues (collected in six-issue hardbacks) sets up his transformation into the Lone Ranger and his quest to find and bring to justice the man responsible for the death of his family. While faithful to the source mythology, the new series does make some changes to the “classic” version of the characters. The author and artist collaborated carefully to make sure that Tonto, the Native American man who joins the Lone Ranger’s quest, was a more three-dimensional, less stereotypical character with his own backstory and motivations and relieving him of his broken English and unquestioning devotion. The interior and cover art is vivid and atmospheric, beautifully capturing the Western landscapes and framing the action and characters within it.

Readers who turn to this incarnation of The Lone Ranger because of a childhood affection for the 1950s TV series will be pleased with the detail and care given to the characters but may be surprised by the graphic violence portrayed. The Lone Ranger’s no-kill code does not entirely prevent him from committing other acts of violence, and most of the other characters have no qualms about killing. This is a comic meant for teens and adults, not children. The series won the 2006 Eisner Award winner for Best New Series and Best Cover Artist, and True West magazine’s awarded the series the “Best Western Comic Book of the Year” in their 2009 Best of the West Source Book.

Subject Headings: Lone Ranger; Tonto; Western stories; Texas; Texas Rangers; adventure; comics and graphic novels; serial publications; series characters; interracial friendship; vengeance; law and justice; vigilantes; Old West.

Appeal: action-oriented, award-winner, character-centered, cinematic, colorful, darker, detailed characterization, detailed setting, details of Old West, details of Texas Rangers, dramatic, engaging, episodic, evocative, explicitly violent, faithful characterization, familiar characters, flashbacks, hard-edged, melodramatic, menacing atmosphere, psychological, recognizable characters, rural atmospheric, series characters, strong secondary characters, suspenseful, sympathetic characters, vivid, well-developed characters

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

· Rangers of the Lone Star. Zane Grey. (Classic Western author, Texas Rangers)

· Lonesome Dove. Larry McMurtry. (character driven Western featuring retired Texas Rangers; see also McMurtry’s “prequels” featuring the characters’ careers in the Rangers.)

· Bat Lash: Guns and Roses. Peter Brandvold and Sergio Aragones (writers); John Severin (illustrator). (Comics and graphic novels, Western, update of classic Western comic book character)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

  • Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers. Robert M. Utley (history of the Texas Rangers in the 19th century)
  • Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State. Randolph B. Campbell. (Texas history)
  • Hollywood’s West: The American Frontier in Film, Television, and History. Peter C. Rollins and John E. O’Connor, editors. (essays about Hollywood’s interpretations of the West)

Name: Cynthia

The Old Spanish Trail

March 18, 2009

Author: Ralph Compton

Title: The Old Spanish Trail

Genre: Western

Publication Date: 1998

Page count: 278

Geographical Setting: Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California

Time Period: 1862

Series: Book no. 11 in the Trail Drive series

Plot summary: Don Webb and his Texan posse are thrilled to hear their friend, Warren Blocker, has made his fortune in Santa Fe and has agreed to purchase five thousand head of cattle from them. But when the cattle drive arrives in New Mexico, the men are shocked to discover that Blocker and his wife have already been robbed and murdered by a group of renegades. The Civil War is looming back in Texas and money there is scarce. Rather than return home empty-handed, the cowboys learn of another buyer in Los Angeles and embark on a harrowing journey to California in hope of selling off the herd. The men follow the Old Spanish trail, a route infamous for its rough terrain and hostile Indians. To complicate matters further, the group is being tailed by two gangs of outlaws bent on revenge and robbery. The men’s bravery and heroism, though tested at every turn, never wane in this exciting tale of camaraderie and the American frontier.

Subject Headings: Cattle Drives; Cattle drives—Old Spanish Trail; Old Spanish Trail; Western stories

Appeal: plot centered, page turner, suspenseful, action oriented, details of old west, historical detail, unpretentious, simple, concise, rural, stark, violence, recognizable characters

Similar Works (fiction): Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry (cattle drive from Texas to Montana, suspense and perilous situations)

Dark Trail to Dodge – Cotton Smith (story of an ambushed cattle drive en route to Kansas)

Trail’s End – Frederic Bean (dangerous trails, details hardships of a cattle drive from Mexico to Kansas)

Similar Works: (nonfiction): Explorers, Traders, and Slavers: Forging the Old Spanish Trail, 1678-1850 – Joseph P. Sanchez (narrative history of the Old Spanish Trail)

The Santa Fe Trail: Its History, Legends, and Lore – David Dary (historical accounts of another old west trail)

The Way West: True Stories of the American Frontier – James A Crutchfield, ed. (true life accounts of the American expansion westward)

Name: Suzanne