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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Story of the American West

I've been reading this book, Story of the American West, Legends of Arizona, by Carol Sletten and Eric Kramer for the last few months and finally finished it over the last weekend. It is almost like a text book in that it is full of well-researched facts, dates and material that school teachers used to make you memorize. It is the history of the White Mountain area of Arizona and brings to light the origins of many of the small towns like Snowflake, Showlow, Alpine, Greer, Vernon, Springerville, St. Johns, etc., beginning with the Mexicans who herded sheep there and continuing through the Apache struggles and on up to the present day.

The authors tell about Geronimo and Cochise, Alchesay, and the Hash Knife Outfit and the later Outlaws and Outlaw Gangs. It covers the murders of prominent and not-so-prominent citizens and the dam building and dam failings, the floods, agriculture and crops of the area and a brief survey of the medicine and doctors available as things built up.

The book was researched over twenty years and has pages of references and an index that helps the reader get through it all. My only complaint, and it's a minor one, is that on occasion the authors would quote someone or something and just leave it with no explanation or not enough context. Some readers may never notice, but it stuck in my mind as I read along that there should have been another sentence or two. Other than that I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look at the White Mountains and the Apaches in a new light.

From the back cover, "Story of the American West tells of Hispanics as Conquistadors, Indian fighters and sheep men. Genetics, language and archaeology are used to trace Native Americans from entry into the New World through development of Hopi and Zuni culture to the arrival of Navajos and Apaches.

"Through their twenty years of research, authors Carol Sletten and Eric Kramer discovered why it is no coincidence that Zane Grey, the West's greatest mythmaker, made frequent trips to east-central Arizona to gather material."

10 comments:

  1. Hey Oscar,
    I am half-way through,POSSE JUSTICE, really enjoying it. I will drop a nice review on Amazon next week.

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    1. Hey, Old Guy, I will really appreciate that, since I've not done any publicity other than Facebook and blog.

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    2. Woops! Forgot to add THANKS A LOT!

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  2. Sounds like a great reference source for facts and ideas.

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    1. Zane Grey found a lot of ideas there, I'm sure we can, too.

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  3. Sounds like a labor of love. A lot of work. As for quotations, writers tend to think that quotations speak for themselves, but they don't. They need a context, just as you describe. I was constantly making that point to my students in their research papers. Don't know if it ever sank in.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe your suggestions will pay off in the long run.

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  4. Oscar, this books seems like an authoritative work on the American West that I love reading about. Am I right in my assumption or are there other better historical books? I welcome your recommendations.

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    1. It's an authoritative work on the White Mountain area of Arizona written for the Arizona Centennial, but it falls short in its coverage of the American West Region, but it brings to light little known and seldom heard of characters of the West besides the main ones like Geronimo, the Earps, etc.

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