Travels through the American West—Past and Present
published 2016 • 5.5" x 8.5" • 356 pages • b&w illustrations • maps
ISBN 9781566560641 • paperback • $20.00 •
“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…. 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.”
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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.
Working for the BBC, British writer Tim Slessor has filmed and traveled “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.
Tim Slessor is the author of First Overland, the story of the first-entirely-by-land drive from the English Channel to Singapore.
“British writer and filmmaker Tim Slessor created documentaries featuring the American West for the BBC for over 40 years.… in his book, he presents some of the biggest stories and best-known figures who shaped the land west of the Mississippi River.… Slessor’s book reads like a love letter to the land that stole his heart. He has written a history book that is both entertaining and well researched. Highly recommended.”
—Historical Novel Society
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