Out West: Travels Through the American West - Past and Present (Paperback)
BBC filmmaker Tim Slessor is deeply, madly head-over-heels in love with the American West—and he wants to help you love it, too. Here, he has put together a history of the West, filling in the broader strokes with details about some of the more intriguing characters—well known or obscure—and their extraordinary experiences. The areas of research depth align not with your standard areas of American history textbook content, but to the anecdotes his own interests took him; for instance, did you know that in order to pay cash for the Louisiana Purchase the US took out a mortgage with British banks that still hold the original financing paperwork? Throughout it all, Slessor writes with a remarkable warmth and kind sense of humor. Through this personal, human look from an outsider’s eyes at the wide swath of frequently written-off fly-over-country, it becomes much easier to appreciate the beauty and history of our country, and the way its legacy shaped the character of our nation. Great for history buffs and adventurous travelers (and history buffs who like to adventure vicariously).— From Ann's Picks
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 Churchilla disappointing scholarmight 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 Hollywoodonly 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.