There are literally hundreds, no probably thousands, of books written about the history of that time and location we know as “The Old West,” and if I could I would buy and happily read all of them.
However, given the limitations of one lifetime — and poorer eyesight as I get up in years! — as well as financial restraints, I’m forced to limit myself to a mere few hundred. Well, realistically, as I sit here and do a quick count from this location, I probably only own 200-300 books specifically about the history and/or biographies of the Old West.
If I were to recommend a single book for those who have only a nodding acquaintance with the lives and times of the Old West — and if that recommendation were based only on the ones I’ve read, it would be this one:
Are you surprised? You thought I might choose something more in-depth?
Of course I do not consider this book in any way “authoritative” and certainly not academic. But that’s my whole point: I love this now-aging volume (my copy was copyrighted in 1999) because it is fascinating to read and gives a wonderful overview of everything (well, nearly everything) related to the Old West. And it starts the journey through the West waaaaaaaaayyyyyyy back in pre-history with America’s earliest inhabitants who probably arrived via the Bering Sea land bridge — with an absolutely delightful first chapter title: “Out Where the West Begins.”
The book is laid out with little “snippets” of interesting information like “Western Lingo” and “Smoke Signals” (those are relevant quotes from someone involved in the narrative being discussed on a given page) which draw interested readers into the whole Old West adventure.
In fact, after spending a few years sort of flailing around trying to create something interesting out of this website, I am starting to think of a whole new approach to organizing my ramblings, based on the general time line and subject matter of this book. (No, no, no, I’ll not plagiarize anything from the author or the fine folks who published this wonderful little book. Just plan on borrowing this approach to organize my ramblings into better shape!)
I urge you to get your own copy of this excellent survey book about the Old West. It’s well worth having as a good foundation that’ll help you branch out into more specific areas of that fascinating period we’ve chosen to call life in the Old West!
More Books About Life in the Old West!
Here are some other great books you ought to look at if you’re looking to add to your library of quality books about the Old West. Some I’ve read (and even referred to on this website, i.e., The Look of the Old West, others I’m still putting on my “Wish List” for when I can afford to add them to my library. Enjoy!