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Buffalo Bill's America Paperback – December 5, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (December 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375726586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375726583
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 6.3 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #868,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this ambitious biography, Warren depicts William "Buffalo Bill" Cody as a man who took a set of extraordinary skills, added a few fanciful tales and built a persona that made him one of the most recognizable men of his time. But it's in Cody's Wild West Show that UC-Davis historian Warren finds Cody's true genius: the ability to capture in theater the anxieties, cultural myths, ambitions, class divides and cultural direction of America as it approached the 20th century. Warren seeks metaphor and symbolism everywhere and is remarkably inventive in finding them. Readers who tire of the discussions of the domestication of America as captured in the Wild West Show, or theories that the show symbolized American labor unrest (with the Indians as stand-ins for labor), will find Warren's analysis of Cody's influence on Bram Stoker's Dracula or what Edvard Munch had in common with Cody's Wild West Show entertaining, if not totally convincing. Warren sends out a fusillade of theories about late-19th-century American culture, the American west and their intersection with the Wild West Show; some resonate, some are provocative and some simply (and unintentionally) amuse. All in all, Warren manages to both entertain and instruct. 41 b&w illus. (Oct. 14)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In his public career, William Cody straddled two worlds and two eras. Born in 1846 in Iowa, he moved west as the nation expanded to the Pacific; he was a genuine product of the frontier who served as a Pony Express rider, army scout, and big-game hunter. Yet he achieved his greatest fame as the frontier was closing, and his Wild West shows, with their utilization of mass-marketing techniques and electronic gimmickry, clearly belong to the twentieth century. But, as Warren reveals in this engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable biography, Cody himself, and the public perception of his life, were always riddled with contradictions. In later life, Cody undeniably embellished his accomplishments, but Warren shows that, as a frontiersman, Cody was the genuine article. He was often self-centered, even narcissistic, but he seemed to genuinely like people and was generous to a fault. Warren has provided an outstanding examination of the life and times of an enigmatic "hero" who was perhaps our first media-driven superstar. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
An entertaining combination of history and biography Louis Warren's book manages to capture the elusive spirit of William Cody aka Buffalo Bill. Bill was a combination of hero, poser and entertainer as he frequently told tall tales linking him to the archetypical western hero Wild Bill Hickock. He dressed like Wild Bill, claimed to be his cousin (although the two weren't related Cody did meet Wild Bill at a young age and did travel with him later). Cody would variously claim that he was the youngest pony express rider (he neve rode for the pony express), was a spy during the Civil War (he wasn't) and was at many of Wild Bill's most famous exploits (he wasn't). It's ironic then that Bill Cody felt the need to embelish an already heroic career as a tracker and guide during the infamous Indian Wars. Cody lived during an uncertain time in the west and his role as a "white" Indian scout made people more comfortable that he was one of "us" who could fight and befriend one of "them" (i.e., the Indians whatever group they belonged to) unlike Wild Bill or other well known scouts who had reputations for violence and/or consorting (meaning marrying an Native American Indian)with the "enemy". Warren provides a fair balanced account of these troubled prejudiced times and what those on the frontier did to survive.

Why did Bill Cody feel the need to tell tall tales about his career when he wasn't the charlatan that many trackers and guides were? Cody had that need to be larger than life and learned by observing people like P. T. Barnum that a little bit of truth and a lot of hokum go a long way. As Maxwell Scott (Carleton Young) states in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance",
"When the Legend Becomes fact, Print the Legend".
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By D. Donovan, Editor/Sr. Reviewer on March 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
William Cody was the most famous American of his times, renowned as a Pony Express rider, soldier, buffalo hunter and overall hero - but his creation of the Wild West show, a traveling company of cowboys and Indians which toured North American and Europe for over thirty years, solidified his importance and his name. BUFFALO BILL'S AMERICA: WILLIAM CODY AND THE WILD WEST SHOW provides the most detailed critical biography of Cody to appear in over forty years, considering his showmanship, his achievements, and the controversies which swirled around his life, both during time and into modern times. Chapters use source material references and quotes but maintain a lively style which lends to appeal by leisure audiences as well as students of American history.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Johnson on December 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Great book from a great professor. Reading this was like sitting in Dr. Warren's class again. He can totally make history come alive and this book is no exception.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fascinating study of a time period that is confused in many people's minds by the "westerns" we watched on tv and in film as we were growing up. The influence of the conflict between the pro and anti slavery proponents, immigration and the difficult interface with the native peoples are brought into the reader's sense of the real world of the U.S "west."
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Nowhere on April 26, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Louis Warren works too hard to debunk the "myth" of Buffalo Bill and his Wild West show -- after a while he just starts to sound churlish. He's using Bill, however, to make some interesting observations about American history and American culture, which are worth considering, even if Warren insists on pounding you over the head with them.

If you're especially interested in the subject, the book is indispensable, but if you just want a calm and fairly even-handed introduction to Buffalo Bill Cody, try Don Russell's excellent biography, which may give Bill too much of the benefit of the doubt but is a lot more fun to read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Stokes on April 29, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm admittedly not a fan of Buffalo Bill. I don't understand the fascination but trying to slog through this book was absolute torture. It is well written but I feel the content has little bearing on U.S. history.
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