Reviews by Steve Peters

The Moccasin Ranch

by Hamlin Garland

Interesting novella which spells out the trials and tribulations of land claimers caught within the beauty and the harshness of the Dakota.

Garland's outpouring of the difficult and lonely life of the "squatter" culminates in a a prosaic understanding as to the outcome of unfaithful behaviour by a wife and the treacherous behaviour of a neighbour.

Reviewed on 2011.01.11

The Captain of the Gray-Horse Troop

by Hamlin Garland

Western love story with strong current themes around the diversification of peoples and control over the land. Garland creates a character in Captain Curtis who is much advanced for his time insofar that being a soldier and having taken part in the "Indian Wars" Curtis is however a friend of the Indians and will suffer loss of life in order to support the peoples whom he loves.
Some continuity issues - for example Captain Curtis is promoted to Major early in the book but is still referred to at times as Captain and then as Major from time to time. With shades of the movie "Dances With Wolves" as an undercurrent this book is well worth the read.

Reviewed on 2011.01.08

The Log of a Cowboy

by Andy Adams

Whilst described as a fiction this book was clearly written about 2 decades after Andy Adams actually took part in real life cattle drives.

In this account, most possible coming as a make up of his own diaries, the characters describe their day to day experience on a 5 month - 3000+ cattle drive. Indeed the drive which begins in Texas and ends in Montana details all of the trials and tribulations of the cowboys who take part.

Readers should not however be put off by the title "The Log of a Cowboy" which appears to suggest a diary or documentary. In fact the book is a brilliant read as well as being an eye opener as to the real conditions of such long drives during the mid to late 19th century.

Reviewed on 2010.09.26

Wyoming

by William MacLeod Raine

Wyoming published in 1908 was the first of Raine's novels set in the American West.

Whilst moving to the Western genre was a departure from his earlier short stories set in the English countryside, this book (as did many of those that followed) also has a deeply embedded romantic theme. Indeed in "Wyoming" there are two opportunities for love in a situation where hundreds of isolated cow-punchers have the choice of only two pretty girls.

However the developing love between several of the books characters plays second fiddle to the story of honour-bound action between the goodies on the "Lazy D" ranch and the related outlaw that has a bone to pick with a cousin and his sweetheart.

Plenty of interest for any reader that enjoys this genre. Well written and very much the page turner.

Reviewed on 2010.08.23

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