From my childhood here in Australia to my now 67 years, I have been a reader of the Zane Grey's novels, historical and fictional. This is the first of his autobiographic accounts of his own exploits that I have read. It contains a rare glimpse into the adventurer psyche of almost a century ago in USA. Grey, along with his brother, his young son and his companions including Buck Jones, certainly shows us the mentality of the hunter and explorer of those days. His description of his visit to the Rainbow Bridge (Nonnezoshe) really brings through his personal sense of wonder. And it is no wonder that, in his novels, Grey's descriptions of the old American West are so authentic - he'd actually been there and lived the life of his characters. Another thing that comes through in the beginning pages of this book is the white man's disregard of the wildlife at the time and the dawning realisation that indisciminate killing and the manner of the killing is neither sensible nor humane. The account of the death of the old cougar makes the point when, turned off the animal's death, Buck Jones vows he'll never kill another cougar again.
The book is written in Grey's typical style - good narrative punctuated by wandering descriptions of his surroundings. Sometimes the text is a little old fashioned and wordy. The book might not appeal to all readers of the western genre. There's not much action in the traditional sense. But there are some wonderful moments to be discovered should you put the time and effort into the reading. An altogether fascinating read.
I wanted to read this book because I'm off on my own pilgramage to the country of the Rainbow Trail and Riders Of The Purple Sage this coming September. With the text of this little book tucked neatly into my mind, I will be able to clearly imagine the places as Grey saw them. I'm really hoping that they haven't altered all that much in the intervening years.