The Writers Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West: 1840 to 1900 by Candy Vyvey MoultonAn informative look at how life in the Wild West was, but, not quite what I was expecting from the title. The Writers Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West doesnt really have much in the way of writers guide or everyday life.
The section under Gunfighters and Outlaws, for example, in Chapter 17, is a one paragraph summary of the existence of train robberies and shoot-outs, and then a long list of various gun violence related factoids - such as 1867 - Jesse James kills three people while robbing a bank in Richmond, Virginia. I mean, these are stock characters in westerns! Pretty much every western character can fit under gunfighters and outlaws, and its one of the least elaborated subjects.
Things are described in some detail, too, but were somehow lacking to me. I did not feel any want for factual information, but still had some trouble understanding, for example, what a house looked like despite an explanation of its basic size, shape, and materials. Pictures would have been helpful. A few id exist, but they were rare and in black and white. I would have been able to internalize some of the guns, clothing, and buildings used if I could actually see them. As it stands, I feel like I have learned to describe something when I dont actually know what it looks like.
It lacks the snapshot of everyday life that I was expecting, but that may not be possible given the six-decade period of time covered, and the sheer volume of information presented. While I have a general idea of what would go into the day (or life) of a wide variety of frontier-types, I lack a vision of how, exactly, a single day might go for these people. I think this could have been solved with some creative writing on the part of the author. Perhaps, occasionally, the monotony of explaining and describing the facets of life in the wild west could be broken up with a fictitious portrayal of someone actually doing it. Its one thing to read a few essays on food, cattle, and digging a well. Itd be quite helpful to read the occasional short story of some rancher going about his daily chores.
I take some issue with the information presented. Its a small annoyance, but... well, heres an example: in the chapter on clothing, the section on womens underwear is about as long as the section on... hats. I mean, cmon.
Nonetheless, the author clearly did her research. While not maybe a guide to everyday life, imo, its still by far the best resource Ive seen for somebody who wants to write a western, or just learn more about the genre/time period in general. This thing is packed to the brim with facts and trivia, thats both well-organized and easy to understand (if a bit boring to read at times). It gets the most interesting in Part Three; my favorite chapters are 15 (Language) and 17 (Crime and Punishment).
So yeah, check it out if youre really interested in learning about this stuff. This is a book you oughta buy, though - its the kind of thing that needs to be referenced every once in a while, not memorized in one fell swoop. Dont buy it if youre just looking for a quick fun read, or even if youre hoping to scratch that western itch. It almost does, but not quite. Thats ok, though... thats not really the point of a book like this.
The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West: 1840 to 1900
There appears to be good reason for that, as Wild West facts about doing the do are more scarce than you would imagine. This surely owes, in part, to the puritanical nature of American settlers. Check out the list and see which of these facts you find the most interesting. A cowboy riding valiantly on his horse to rescue a poor damsel that's tied to the railroad tracks, for instance; spitting dip, loading guns, and drinking hard. Wild West society didn't necessarily label people homosexual or heterosexual, but rather allowed each person to be who they need to be in any given moment. When women weren't present in large communities, say a mining camp full of men for example, some men would fill the role of women for physical pleasure and domestically, and normal gender roles were challenged. In effect, men in the Old West got it where they could.
In , Elmer McCurdy mistakenly robbed a passenger train he thought contained thousands of dollars. His corpse finally wound up in a Long Beach, California, amusement park funhouse. One of the wackier ideas in American history, the U. Camel Corps was established in at Camp Verde, Texas. Reasoning that the arid southwest was a lot like the deserts of Egypt, the Army imported 66 camels from the Middle East. As the Civil War broke out, exploration of the frontier was curtailed and Confederates captured Camp Verde.
In the American imagination, the rugged, vast landscapes of the West are dotted with solitary men on horseback—cowboys, outlaws, sheriffs. What brought women to places like California and Wyoming, and what lives could they lead there? Did Western women experience the same freedoms and adventures as their male counterparts? A land of contradictions as well as opportunity — Virginia Scharff. With the advent of European contact, Spanish and Mexican and indigenous women lived in—and came from—all directions. In the years after the Civil War, those women found plenty of opportunities in the West that were not available in the East: everything from the right to vote to equal pay for women teachers to more liberal divorce laws.
The historic images showcase the everyday hardships for settlers making lives for themselves on the harsh terrain. The 19th century photographs show how settlers travelled across the unforgiving landscape on horse-drawn carriages. Many travellers passed over the rocky road in the hopes of stumbling across a place they could set-up home in. When their location was selected, settlers struggled to build their houses from scratch and find sources of food and water. If these daily worries weren't difficult enough, people living in the Wild West were often hindered by natural disasters. Due to the lack of established legal system in the Wild West, lynching and hanging was not uncommon. The sense of rough justice is captured in the images, which show one man being strung up from a tree after committing a robbery.
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The American frontier holds a mythic space in our imaginations. And because of that, it's a place we envision more through the stories of the Wild West than through its actual history. The real American frontier wasn't always as dramatic as it's made out to be in films, but it was a dangerous place, an untamed land. The settlers who traveled out West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had to live in defiance of nature and the elements without the comforts of civilization. Whole families would gather together in wagons and ride off into the unknown, sometimes spending months living in the carriages that pulled them westward.