Monday, October 15, 2012
Book Review - Buffalo Bill from Prairie to Palace
Advance man, press agent, and publicist extraordinaire, John M. Burke (1842–1917) was instrumental in turning William F. Cody into the iconic persona of Buffalo Bill. And with this biography, published in 1893, Burke put the finishing touches on the legend that persists to this day. This new, definitive edition includes the full text and all the photographs and line drawings of Burke’s original, while providing critical background on the literary sources, historical characters, and events that figure in the work.
With “a few plain truths, unadorned,” Burke purported to give a frank account of Buffalo Bill’s life. Hostile Indians, gunfights, cattle stampedes: Cody’s Wild West was fraught with peril at every turn. This “Chevalier Bayard of American Bordermen” exemplified courage and daring while often narrowly escaping certain death and earned the respect and admiration of not only his fellow frontiersman but also European royalty. Burke recounts Cody’s duel with Chief Yellow Hand; his role as army scout, buffalo hunter, Pony Express rider, and international celebrity; and his associations with well-known figures like Kit Carson, Sitting Bull, General Phil Sheridan, and Queen Victoria. A brilliant instance of mythmaking by a true believer, Burke’s portrait of Buffalo Bill Cody as frontiersman and hero is a tribute to the romance of the Wild West and a canonical volume in the American story.
About the Author
Chris Dixon is a senior research fellow in the School of Humanities at the University of Strathclyde and editor of Four Years in Europe with Buffalo Bill (available in a Bison Books edition).
My Take on the Book
This was a well researched book that really opened my eyes to who Buffalo Bill really was. Though some really interesting letters as well as very cool images and drawings that show the man and his comrades. Through this book you really get to see what type of a showman he was. The more that I read, the more that I wished that I had been around to be able to actually experience one of his shows back when he was at his best. For anyone that has ever been intrigued by Buffalo Bill and what he did his life, this book will open your eyes and bring you back in time to give you an amazing glimpse into history!
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