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American West


  • Originally published 08/12/2013

    Was Bass Reeves — a former slave turned deputy U.S. marshal — the real Lone Ranger?

    Art Burton listened intently as the old man on the other end of the phone cleared his throat and began telling him a story. Burton had only been researching the life of Bass Reeves for a short while but that afternoon what Reverend Haskell James Shoeboot, the 98-year-old part-Cherokee Indian, was about to tell him would persuade Burton he had stumbled upon one of the greatest stories never told.Born in 1838, Bass Reeves was a former slave-turned-lawman who served with the U.S. Marshals Service for 32 years at the turn of the 20th century in part of eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas known as Indian Territory. Though he was illiterate, Reeves became an expert tracker and detective – a man who, in Burton’s words, “walked in the valley of death every day for 35 years and brought in some of the worst outlaws from that period”....It reaffirmed what Burton had suspected: that (Armie Hammer’s caucasian portrayal aside in the movie The Lone Ranger) Bass Reeves — perhaps the first black commissioned deputy marshal west of the Mississippi — could well have been one of the greatest lawmen of the Wild West. But most people hadn’t heard of him. Over the next 20 years, Reeves would become an obsession for Burton, culminating in a very interesting hypothesis, which he puts forward in his book Black Gun, Silver Star....

  • Originally published 08/07/2013

    Historic Riverside Cemetery embodies Denver's past

    Denver's city of the dead is very much alive.Like Mark Twain, Riverside Cemetery has had its premature demise reported more than once. The city's premiere burial ground opened on July 1, 1876, at 5201 Brighton Blvd. on the Denver/Adams county line.In 1901, historian Jerome Smiley gushed, "(Riverside) is a most beautiful city of the dead, adorned with shrubbery and lawns and costly monuments, so that one feels in the midst of it all, that rivers of human love and devotion flow up and down all its walks and drives."...

  • Originally published 05/07/2013

    The Civil War's 'Young Napoleon': An Interview with Richard Slotkin

    Richard Slotkin is one of the most well-known historians of American history and culture. His writings on the frontier, the Old West, Hollywood Westerns, the Civil War, and World War I, among other topics, have played a significant role in shaping the field of American Studies.In 1973, Slotkin published Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860, the first of his trilogy on the mythology of the American West. The book remains a cornerstone in American Studies in its examination of how the colonization of the frontier and the violence used against Native Americans defined certain attitudes and prejudices that influenced American culture for years to come. The subsequent books of the trilogy, The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800-1890, and Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America, further explore these themes of American mythmaking....What drew you first to General George McClellan, or “The Young Napolean”, as he’s often been called? What is it about him that makes him so compelling not only as a notable figure from history but as a character that stands out on the page?

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