Monday, October 15, 2012
Book Review - The Wild West in England
Army scout, frontiersman, and hero of the American West, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody was also a shrewd self-promoter, showman, and entrepreneur. In 1888 he published The Story of the Wild West, a collection of biographies of four well-known American frontier figures: Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Kit Carson, and himself. Cody contributed an abridged version of his 1879 autobiography with an addendum titled The Wild West in England, now available in this stand-alone annotated edition, including all the illustrations from the original text along with photographs of Cody and promotional materials.
Here Cody describes his Wild West exhibition, the show that offered audiences a mythic experience of the American frontier. Focusing on the show’s first season of performances in England, Cody includes excerpts of numerous laudatory descriptions of his show from the English press as well as stories of his time spent with British nobility—from private performances for Queen Victoria and the Prince and Princess of Wales to dinners and teas with the elite of London society. He depicts himself as an ambassador of American culture, proclaiming that he and his Wild West show prompted the British to “know more of the mighty nation beyond the Atlantic and . . . to esteem us better than at any time within the limits of modern history.”
About the Author
William F. Cody (1846–1917) founded the traveling show “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” in 1883 after serving as a scout in the U.S. Army and an actor in western stage dramas. While his show toured in the United States and Europe for three decades, he became an international celebrity. Frank Christianson, an associate professor of English at Brigham Young University, is the editor of the critical edition of The Life of Hon. William F. Cody, Known as Buffalo Bill (available in a Bison Books edition).
My Take on the Book
In another book that I just reviewed about Buffalo Bill, the author did much research to portray the man in a unique way. What I loved in contrast in this book was the fact that this book was written by the man himself through his own writings about his experiences taking his show overseas. You get such an intimate look into not only the show itself, but also Buffalo Bill himself by reading his words and I found myself wanting to read more and more to find out what would happen next. You can truly see that he saw himself as a paragon of American Culture and he tried to being all of America with him as he traveled to England and to his credit, from the way that he portrays it he does an amazing job!
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