Candy Moulton: Reading the West 10-24-11
Johnny D. Boggs, best known for his award winning novels, proves that he is no slouch at writing nonfiction, and that his film knowledge rivals other aficionados. He has chosen “Jesse James and the Movies,” published by McFarland and Company, to concentrate on just one angle of Western film: Jesse James. Perhaps that’s not surprising, since Boggs has more than once used the legendary character in a novel.
For this detailed reference work he begins with the opening to a speech he gave in Iowa in 2006. “The best movie about Jesse James is ‘Ride with the Devil,’ which isn’t about Jesse James, but that’s all right because the best movie about George Custer is ‘Fort Apache,’ which isn’t about Custer, either, and the best movie about the O.K. Corral is ‘My Darling Clementine,’ which gets almost all of the facts – including the year of the famous fight -wrong.”
Boggs gives a concise biography of James, written with a novelist’s technique, and he discusses the icon’s position in pop culture form 1875 to 1903, deals with James during the era of silent moves (1908-1927), and continues to show James and the movies from that time forward including odd ball stories, revisionist films, and connections to television from TV movies to series shows such as those in “The Twilight Zone,” “My Favorite Martian,” and yes, even “The Brady Bunch.”
For most films he provides background, history, a synopsis, details about the actors, and analysis. For movie buffs, or those interested in Jesse James, this volume is a must.
“Old Yellowstone Days,” published by the University of New Mexico Press, is a reprint of Paul Schullery’s seminal work about the early days in Yellowstone National Park. It has a foreword by Lee H. Whittlesey and is updated with new material, new photographs, and a new introduction.
“The People are Dancing Again: The History of the Siletz Tribe of Western Oregon,” written by Charles Wilkinson and published by the University of Washington Press., is a detailed history of the Siletz tribe of Western Oregon shares a culture from the village societies of centuries ago to today. It is written by someone with “no degree in history” but an underlying sense of what makes history, and better, what makes a good telling of a cultural story.
As with so many accounts of native people, who saw their homelands overrun, and found themselves “removed” to another location, this is poignant and powerful.
“Eagle Voice Remembers: An Authentic Tale of the Old Sioux World,” published by the University of Nebraska Press, is a reprint of John Neihardt’s interpretation of the Sioux way of life. It includes an introduction by Raymond J. DeMallie, and a new foreword by Coralie Hughes, Neihardt’s granddaughter and the head of the Neihardt trust. This book, formerly titled “When the Tree Flowered,” is a prequel to Neihardt’s classic book “Black Elk Speaks.”
One of the new titles in the “Images of America” series by Arcadia Books, “The Silver Valley” highlights the historic silver mining town of Wallace, Idaho. It is authored by the Historic Wallace Preservation Society, which provided man of the photographs that focus not only on Wallace but also on other Idaho towns including Kellogg, Mullan, Silverton, Osburn, Smelterville, Pinehurst and Kingston.
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This the first in a six-part series of articles covering basic water law in the United States, predominately in the western part of the country, and how it affects this finite resource.