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Grey, Z., 1937. Majesty’s Rancho. New York, New York Sunday News.

When “Majesty’s Rancho” was first published, in New York Sunday News, 26th September 1937, Zane Grey was 65 years old. It’s prequel, The Light of Western Stars, was published 24 years earlier. I mention this, because I believe it has an impact on the end result of “Majesty’s Rancho“. Later publishings were in hardcover in 1938 by Harper & Brothers, in 1942 as an Armed Services Edition and in 1949 by Zane Grey Western Books.

I had to pull back several times while reading “Majesty’s Rancho” and writing this review because I kept on being hit by a sense of “Huh?” and “Say what?”. One reason was the way Madge/Majesty was treated in the story. Grey did not like a female protagonist who might be perceived as possibly stronger than the male protagonist (Pauly, T.H., 2014). By the time he had finished with Madeline in The Light of Western Stars, Grey had found his recipe for breaking such women down and he used that recipe for what it was worth in “Majesty’s Rancho“. He was apparently not alone in not wanting that. Reviewers and the blurb all seem to agree that she needed taking down a few notches.

One of the reasons I felt this way, was because all the main protagonists and the antagonist blamed Madge for their own behavior. Madge blamed Madge for how she behaved, Uhl (antagonist) blamed Madge for how he behaved towards her, Rollie blamed Madge for how he treated her, Lance blamed Madge for how he behaved towards her and Gene blamed Madge for how he and Lance treated her. Talk about internalizing and externalizing blame in stereotypically gendered ways. The only people who did not blame Madge for their own behaviors were Ren Starr and Nels. These two men were voices of reason throughout the story.

Nels: “Wal, I have. An’ I’m gamblin’ on her, Gene. Wild as a young filly, shore she was. But good as gold an’ as true as steel. When she was heah last I had some jars, you bet. I had to figger oot thet times had changed since you an’ me ran after girls. We’ve stayed right in one spot, Gene, an’ this old world has moved on.”

“Right. I’ll bet you we have it coming to us. Madge said in her letter she was having a crowd of college friends come to visit her.”

“Fine. She did thet last time an’ I never had such fun.”

Another thing I had a problem with was the way Madge was blamed for the current finances of the farm. However, when she left the farm, for The University of Southern California, as a 16 year-old their family was wealthy. Madge, herself, had a fond worth a million dollars and her mother was even wealthier. In addition, their ranch was doing really well. That perception was maintained by both her mother and her father the entire time she was away, meaning Madge spent money accordingly. Instead of letting her know that the Crash on Wall Street in 1929 had affected their family and that they all needed to use less money, they told her nothing. Gene had no head for money and kept making unwise money choices. He was afraid of letting Madeline (his wife) do their books in case she found out he had taken out a mortgage on the ranch. All the way through the story, Lance keeps up an internal ranting towards her spending yet he also kept his mouth shut because of a promise to Gene. Madge had sensed something was off the last time she was home but did not know what it was. Before coming home, she had decided she would be spending the rest of her time and money on the upkeep of the ranch. She just wanted one last summer with friends.

“I get it,” she said, soberly, dropping those penetrating eyes. “I’ve always understood Majesty’s Rancho was mine. You know, just in a vain and playful way, perhaps. How about that, Dad—seriously?”

“Of course this ranch is yours—or will be someday, which is just the same. And a white elephant—my daughter.”

“Not for little Madge. What do you suppose I went to college for? What did I study economics for?… Dad—Mom, I tell you I’m home for good. I’m crazy about my home. It has been swell to have unlimited money. Let me play around this summer—entertain my friends—then I’ll hop to the job.”

Madge/Majesty Stewart is the daughter of Gene Stewart and Madeline Hammond from The Light of Western Stars. She has grown up on an awesome ranch right across the border from New Mexico (Blake, K., 2014). When we first meet her she is an honor student and secretary to the student body at the University of Southern California. She is popular with her fellow students and is considered kind and sweet to others, hardworking and a little wild. Her beauty and spirit attract men to her, some nice and some not so nice (like Honey Bee Uhl). Except for Ren Starr and Nels, all the men we get to know in “Majesty’s Rancho” want to possess Madge.

Lance Sidway is the male protagonist. Much like Madge, he is beautiful, kind and sweet to others, hardworking and a little wild. He loves women and they like him. His financial background is completely different to Madge’s, and that background goes some way in explaining how completely incapable he is of understanding Madge. His mom had died early, the Crash and Great Depression came and took their ranch, he had to quit college, his dad died and Lance had to get his sister’s surgery and recovery paid for. So he and Umpqua, his horse, went to Hollywood and Umpqua made a name of itself. Lance got sick of never making a name of himself, always having to be a stunt or boyfriend to  up-and-coming actors, and having to play second fiddle to his horse. So he left Hollywood with Umpqua to find the Wild West he had heard of.

Lance and Umpqua’s ride from Los Angeles, California to Douglas, Arizona.

What he found was that both he and his horse got into better shape and that the West was not so wild after all.

He knew that arid country, having been to Palm Springs and Indio with motion-picture companies. Still, sight of the rolling wasteland with its knolls of mesquite and flats of greasewood, and the irregular barren mountains zigzagging the horizon, afforded him keen pleasure. How different this country from the golden pastures and black hills and swift streams of Oregon! Lance could not have conceived a greater contrast. And by noonday the June heat of the desert was intense. Sweat oozed out of his every pore and Umpqua was wet. But this heat was what both horse and rider needed. They were heavy from underwork and overeating.

Gene Stewart, Madge’s dad, is also mostly a nice guy. He longs for an exciting past he could understand and not the boring demands of being a settled man to an adult (18) daughter. He projects much of his unhappiness on to Madge and there are moments when she wonders if he really loves her. Grey was 65 when the serial was published. He bemoaned the older, slower days when nature remained unspoiled by automobiles and automatic weapons (Cast, C.C., 2008). Gene is written with this type of spirit. Gene’s wife, Madeline is a background figure who comforts Gene and Madge when needed.

When Madge and Lance meet both fall immediately in love. However, from the time they both meet again at the ranch they treat each other atrociously. If this is love, then I’m not missing anything in my life. Why would Grey write them both so jaded? It’s as though he had seen “Gone With the Wind” and wanted to write something like that. Such “romances” have never appealed to me and I wasn not able to finish either the book or watch the film of “Gone With the Wind“.

The main antagonist of “Majesty’s Rancho” is Honey Bee Uhl. Grey often makes his antagonists cartoonish and Uhl is no exception. He did not feel as dangerous as he should have even when the story got to his main scene. I wasn’t able to believe in him, and I think that was part of my problem with this story.

All in all I have to say that “Majesty’s Rancho” is far from one of Grey’s best works. As far as language, it felt authentic. There were racial slurs typical of white farmers of that time. Most of the time I felt as though I was reading the words of a bitter old man, which Grey probably wasn’t. And the romance was soooo not my style. However, if you are into stuff like “Gone With the Wind” then this might be a story for you.


Available free at Roy Glashan’s Library and Internet Archive.

Reviews:

Translations:

  • Croatian: Grey, Z., 1961/1964/1966/1985. Princezin ranč. Opatija: Otokar Keršovani. Omer Lakomica (Translator).
  • Czech: Grey, Z., 1998. Ranč Majesty. Český Těšín: Oddych. Radomír Karas (Illustrator). Karel Chlouba (Translator).
  • German: Grey, Z., 1952. Majesty; München: AWA-Verl. Dr. Hansheinz Werner (Translator).
  • Hungarian: Grey, Z., 1990. Majesti tanyája. Budapest: Sprint. Pap László (Translator). (2011, Budapest: Fapadoskonyv.hu.
  • Italian: Grey, Z., 1961/1969. Il ranch di Majesty. Milano: Sonzogno. Agnese Silvestri Giorgi (Translator).
  • Norwegian: Grey, Z., 1974. Den fortapte ranchen. Oslo: Ingar Weyer Tveitan. Ulf Gleditsch (Translator). (1988, Fredhøi; 1997, Egmont bøker)
  • Spanish: Grey, Z., 1950. El rancho Majestad. Barcelona Bruguera, 1950. Luis Conde Vélez (Translator).

Bibliography

 

 
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Posted by on 2018-10-28 in Books

 

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Raiders of Spanish Peaks, 1931

“Raiders of the Spanish Peaks” first saw light of day in December 1931 as a serial in the recently established magazine “Country Gentleman”. It ran as a six-part story until May 1932. Then, in 1938 it was published by Harper & Bros. Later it reappeared in Zane Grey’s Western Magazine 4(5) in 1950 and as a Dell picturized edition called “The Rustlers” in 1954.

Zane Grey always has a theme for his historical romances. He tries to keep them true to the times, using historical people and places to emphasize his messages. Charles “Buffalo” Jones conveys the importance of understanding stories from its time and place in history. He also tries to convey the idea that all stories have two sides to them. “Raiders of the Spanish Peaks” is set to the 1880s in Kansas and Colorado. At that time Comanchee, Ute, Kiowa and Arapaho tribes were still being removed from lands wanted by cattle ranchers into reservations. Jones refers to one of the darkest times in the history in the US, a time described well in Zane Grey’s “The Thundering Herd“.

Character-wise Grey likes to use men and women (often tenderfeet) who grow into his ideal westerner (see “Code of the West“). “Raiders of Spanish Peaks” is no different in that regard. There are two main characters (Laramie Nelson and Harriet Lindsay) and two secondary characters (Lonesome Mulhall and Lenta Lindsay). Other semi-important ones are Ted Williams, Florence Lindsay, Neale Lindsay, Lester Allen, Luke Arlidge and Mr. and Mrs. Lindsay. “Raiders of Spanish Peaks” starts with Laramie Nelson’s story.

LARAMIE’S horse went lame, and as Wingfoot was the only living creature he had to care for, he halted at midday, without thought of his own needs.

After one too many gun-plays Laramie felt the need to leave a certain Kansas Ranch behind (along with Luke Arlidge). He is a 25-year old Texan gun-slinger and grubrider (a cowhand riding from ranch to ranch finding whatever work was available). With him went his horse, saddle and tack, wool-blanket, canteen, gun and saddlebag. He and Wingfoot found themselves in an idyllic valley in southern central Kansas. He woke to the sound of men up to no good.

“Thet’s my answer, Mulhall,” replied Price, curtly. “I’ll tell somebody yu took yore medicine yellow.”

“——!” burst out the bound rider, furiously. “I knowed it. Yu’re hangin’ me ’cause she has no use fer yu. . . . Go ahead an’ string me up yu ——! . . . She’ll be onto yu. Hank or Bill will give yu away some day. An’ she’ll hate yu——”

“Shet up,” snapped Price, jerking the lasso so tight round Mulhall’s neck as to cut short his speech and sway him in the saddle.

Which is how Laramie and “Lonesome” Mulhall come to ride together. Lonesome has two weaknesses that keep on getting him into trouble. The first he shares with Zane Grey (according to his biographies), women. Lonesome (16) loves them and they love him right back. The second is the itch to acquire whatever is not tied down. Laramie is lonely, and has hopes of Lonesome growing up, so he invites Lonesome along.

They ride into a newish Dodge City to stock up on hardtack, they run into the final member of their threesome: Ted “Track” Williams (19). He is stuck in jail and wants the two to spring him.

“Sheriff and his deputies made a raid to lock up a lot of newcomers. And I happened to be one.”

Times being what they were, Lonesome and Laramie decide to go fulfill his request, and that night the threesome becomes “The Three Range Riders”.

“Laramie’s fame with a gun, Williams’ as a tracker, Lonesome’s irresistible attraction and weakness for women, preceded them in many instances, and in all soon discovered them.”

The three of them could not be parted. If one was hired, all had to be hired. If one was let go, the other two left as well. Jobs weren’t easy to come but Laramie kept the two others in line as much as possible.

… the frontier was changing from the bloody Indian wars and buffalo massacres a few years back to the cattle regime and the development of the rustler. For young men the life grew harder, for not only did the peril to existence increase, but also the peril of moral ruin. The gambler, the prostitute, the rustler, the desperado, the notoriety-seeking, as well as the real gunman, followed hard on the advent of the stock-raising.

Laramie prayed for a miracle. The Three Range Riders decide to give the straight and narrow one more try and come to Garden city. Once the pesky tribes had been driven off, the Fulton brothers laid claim to large sections of the townsite. It is here that Laramie finds a solution to their needs.

Laramie strode on until he came to a pretentious hotel, and was entering the lobby, followed by his reluctant and grumbling partners, when suddenly he was halted by a man.

“Look out, Lonesome! Duck!” called Tracks, who was ahead.

But the Westerner with the broad-brimmed sombrero let out a whoop.

Laramie! . . . By the Lord Harry, where’d you come from?”

Quick as a flash Laramie recognized the lean, lined, tanned face with its gray eyes of piercing quality.

“Buffalo Jones or I’m a daid sinner! I shore am glad to meet yu heah.”

The story then changes POV to the Lindsay family. John Lindsay is an “iron-gray-haired man of fifty years, and of fine appearance except for an extreme pallor which indicated a tubercular condition”. He had left Upper Sandusky, OH, with his family to find himself a better climate. His family insisted they go with him  so Lindsay sold everything they had. We first meet the family in Garden City at the Elk Hotel. Mrs. NN Lindsay is an anxious person who likes to entertain. His oldest daughter is Harriet “Hallie/Hal” (25), his accountant, financial advisor and money handler and “the sanity and strength of this family“. Florence (19) is the beauty of the family and concerned with beautiful things. Neale (18) is the only boy and his mother’s favourite. Lenta (16) is the most spirited and adventuresome of the four.

John Lindsay bought Spanish Peaks Ranch (“…an old fort. Built by trappers who traded with the Utes an’ Kiowas. There’s a fine spring comes right up inside the patio an’ some big cottonwoods…“) along with 10000 heads of cattle from Lester Allen. Allen told them he would  leave a crew led by his foreman, Luke Arlidge. Harriet was not impressed with either of them. All of them were, however, impressed with the man their father brought the next day. Charles “Buffalo” Jones brought with him stories about his life and warnings about what might be waiting considering the reputation of Allen and Arlidge. A few of days later he introduced Lindsay to The Three Range Riders, who agreed to be hired by him.

The rest of “Raiders of Spanish Peaks” continues to change between Laramie and Harriet’s experiences as they travel to the ranch, what they discover when they get there, and the tough and rewarding life waiting for them all. Some parts are really funny, some are tense, some are romantic (in the Jane Austen sense). As with all of his stories, nature also is also a character in “Raiders of Spanish Peaks“.

Gray-sloped, twin-peaked, snow-capped mountains apparently loomed right over her. These must be the Spanish Peaks from which the ranch derived its name. They were her first sight of high mountains and the effect seemed stunning. But they were only a beginning. Beyond rose a wall of black and white which she had imagined was cloud. Suddenly she realized that she was gazing at the magnificent eastern front of the Rocky Mountains. Pure and white, remote and insurmountable, rose the glistening peaks high into the blue sky, and then extended, like the teeth of a saw, beyond her range of vision.

Harriet stared. Greater than amaze and ecstasy something had birth in her. The thing she had waited for all her life seemed to be coming—the awakening of a deeper elementary self. A vague, sweet, intangible feeling of familiarity smote her. But where and when could she ever have seen such a glorious spectacle? Perhaps pictures haunted her. This scene, however, was vivid, real, marvelous, elevating. Lonely and wild and grand—this Colorado!

I think Zane Grey probably had fun with Mulhall’s character. There is a couple of conversations between Laramie and Lonesome about women that may have shocked some readers. His fans were mainly Euro-Americans. That may also be true of most of today’s fans. I would guess that today’s target groups for Zane Grey, and “Raiders of Spanish Peaks“, consist of Western fans and fans of US historical authors.

Free read at Roy Glashan’s library


Translations

  • Audiobook narrated by John McLain
  • Croatian. Jahači španjolskih planina. Translated by Boris Gerechtshammer. Rijeka: Otokar Keršovani, 1963.
  • Czech. Pistolníci ze Španělských hor. Translated by Josef Vorel. V Praze: Novina, 1939.
  • Finnish. Yöllinen hyökkäys. Kymmenen markan romaaneja 161. Translated by Tauno Nuotio. WSOY, 1939.
  • German. Die Unzertrennlichen. Translated by Dr. Franz Eckstein. Berlin: Verlag Th. Knaur Nachf., 1939.
  • Norwegian. Oppgjørets time. Translated by Ulf Gleditch. Oslo: Egmont Forlag, 1989
  • Portugese. Três cavaleiros da planície. Translated by Raúl Correia. Lisboa: Ag. Port. de Revistas, [19-?]
  • Spanish. Los incursores de la pradera. Translated by . México, D.F., Editorial Diana, 1967.
 
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Posted by on 2018-06-14 in Books

 

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West of the Pecos; New York, The American Magazine, 1931

Illustrated by Frank Hoffman

West of the Pecos was first published as a 7-episode serial in The American Magazine from August of 1931 to February of 1932. In 1937 Harper & Brothers published the story as an action romance. The Zane Grey’s Western Magazine published West of the Pecos in 1947 and again in 1954. The main characters are Pecos Smith and Terrill (Rill) Lambeth with Sambo as supporting character. As usual, nature plays an important role displaying Pecos River, Horsehead Crossing and Langtry around 1865-1871 (ZGWS). A free copy is available in Roy Glashan‘s library.

“When Templeton Lambeth’s wife informed him that if God was good they might in due time expect the heir he had so passionately longed for, he grasped at this with the joy of a man whose fortunes were failing, and who believed that a son might revive his once cherished dream of a new and adventurous life on the wild Texas ranges west of the Pecos River.

That very momentous day he named the expected boy Terrill Lambeth, for a beloved brother. Their father had bequeathed to each a plantation; one in Louisiana, and the other in eastern Texas. Terrill had done well with his talents, while Templeton had failed.

The baby came and it was a girl. This disappointment was the second of Lambeth’s life, and the greater. Lambeth never reconciled himself to what he considered a scurvy trick of fate. He decided to regard the child as he would a son, and to bring her up accordingly. He never changed the name Terrill. And though he could not help loving Terrill as a daughter, he exulted in her tomboy tendencies and her apparently natural preferences for the rougher and more virile pleasures and occupations. Of these he took full advantage.”

Zane Grey was known for thorough research for his stories and appropriately portrayed characters according to each storyline’s class, gender and color. In West of the Pecos we find ourselves in Texas before and after the war between Southern and Northern states. Texas never experienced the major invasions that other Southern states did. Shortages of essentials like food, medication and paper was extensive because essentials went to the army. To support the war, new property-, poll-, income- and distilling taxes were imposed. Refugees started arriving and wounded men returned. Crime rose and sometimes these were answered with lynchings. Since most white men, like Lambeth, joined the army, women took over the running of most facets of life. Many cotton plantations were not as affected as other industries (TSLAC). However, the Lambeth women experienced hardship, and their slaves probably felt the increasing lack of ready income the most. When the war ended, Lambeth returned a widower with a fifteen year old daughter (Rill) to provide for and a plantation he no longer wants to run.

West of the Pecos is about gender differences, how Texans viewed African-Americans, crime as a consequence of the war, poverty and not giving up. It’s probably one of my favourite Zane Grey action romances. The action is excellent. As usual nature plays a vital part. The romance between Rill and Pecos ends in the usual manner. I believe in Rill’s character more than Pecos’. Both Rill and Pecos talk down to Sambo, but Pecos is probably Grey’s representative for the Southern view of African-Americans:

Pecos Smith had known negro slaves as worthy as any white man, though he had the Southerner’s contempt for most of the black trash.

Lambeth sold the plantation and tries to fulfill his dreams. “He had a vision and it could not be clouded.” All of the slaves are freed, but two of them get hired as vaquero (Sambo) and cook (Mauree) for the outfit. They have a wagon stuffed with provisions and several horses. Upon leaving eastern Texas, Lambeth insists that Rill take on the role as a boy and forget whatever she had learned about being a woman. This is a strategic move on Lambeth’s part. Not only that, but according to the laws of Texas Lambeth owned Rill so she had little say in what happened to her. He explained to Rill that given where they were going, being a boy and vaquero was safer than being a girl. That was truth.

West of the Pecos is divided into three parts. First we have the journey of the Lambeths from eastern Texas to West of the Pecos.You can follow the route Lambeth, Rill, Sambo and Mauree travel. First they go through Austin to San Antonio/Alamo (where Rill meets Pecos for the first time). After San Antonio they join a group of buffalo hunters and go northwest of Colorado River to kill buffalo. Rill, Sambo and Mauree have an exciting first buffalo experience:

…The streams of buffalo had closed in solid and were now scarcely a hundred yards from the wagons. The black and tawny beasts appeared to bob up and down in unison. Dust rolled up yellow and thick, obscuring farther view. Behind, the gap was filling up with a sea of lifting hoofs and shaggy heads. It was thrilling to Terrill, though her heart came up in her throat. The rumble had become a trampling roar. She saw that Sambo’s idea was to keep his big wagon behind Mauree’s smaller one, and try to run with the beasts, hoping they would continue to split behind it. But how long could the horses keep that gait up, even if they did not bolt and leave the wagons to be crushed? Terrill had heard of whole caravans being flattened out and trodden into the plain. Dixie’s ears were up, his eyes wild. But for Terrill’s presence right close, holding his bridle, he would have run away.

Soon Terrill became aware that the teams were no longer keeping up with the buffalo. That lumbering lope had increased to a gallop, and the space between the closing lines of buffalo had narrowed to half what it had been. Terrill saw with distended eyes those shaggy walls converging. There was no gap behind Sambo’s wagon—only a dense, gaining, hairy mass. Sambo’s eyes rolled till the whites stood out. He was yelling to his horses, but Terrill could not hear a word.

The trampling roar seemed engulfed in deafening thunder. The black bobbing sea of backs swallowed up the open ground till Terrill could have tossed her sombrero upon the shaggy humps. She saw no more flying legs and hoofs. When she realized that the increased pace, the change from a tame lope to a wild gallop, the hurtling of the blind horde, meant a stampede and that she and the two negroes were in the midst of it, she grew cold and sick with terror. They would be lost, smashed to a pulp. She shut her eyes to pray, but she could not keep them shut.

Next she discovered that Mauree’s team had bolted. The wagon kept abreast of the beasts. It swayed and jolted, almost throwing Terrill out. Dixie had to run to keep up. Sambo’s team came on grandly, tongues out, eyes like fire, still under control. Then Terrill saw the negro turn to shoot back at the charging buffalo. The red flame of the gun appeared to burst right in the faces of the maddened beasts. They thundered forward, apparently about to swarm over the wagon.

Clamped with horror, hanging on to the jolting wagon, Terrill saw the buffalo close in alongside the very wheels. A shroud of dust lifted, choking and half blinding her. Sambo blurred in her sight, though she saw the red spurt of his gun. She heard no more. Her eyes seemed stopped. She was an atom in a maelstrom. The stench of the beasts clogged her nostrils. A terrible sense of being carried along in a flood possessed her. The horses, the wagons, were keeping pace with the stampede. Dixie leaped frantically, sometimes narrowly missing the wagon. Just outside the wheels, rubbing them, swept huge, hairy, horned monsters that surely kept him running straight.

After a successful hunt, the Lambeths travelled to Maynardsville (Manard) by the San Saba River where Lambeth picks up Texas long-horns and two helpers. The crew continues via the southern edge of L’lano Estacado across the Staked Plains. They become lost and much of the cattle died of thirst. Fortunately, they stumbled upon the Flat Rock Water Holes. After that, they almost died again before they found Wild China Water Holes. Another near death experience almost happened. This time they were saved by Pecos Smith who took them to Horsehead Crossing. The entire journey took eight months, leaving the all four honed for the lives they were about to enter.

In the second part of West of the Pecos, Pecos Smith was the main character. He had

… flaxen hair and he wore it so long that it curled from under his sombrero. His face was like a bronze mask, except when he talked or smiled, and then it lightened. In profile it was sharply cut, cold as stone, singularly more handsome than the full face. His eyes assumed dominance over all other features, being a strange-flecked, pale gray, of exceeding power of penetration. His lips, in repose, were sternly chiseled, almost bitter, but as they were mostly open in gay, careless talk or flashing a smile over white teeth, this last feature was seldom noticed….He was an honest person.

Due to circumstances, Pecos ended up in the same area as Rill. We now enter the third part of West of the Pecos. After he saved fifteen year old (he thought) Rill, Pecos became Rill’s partner. Both wanted to get back at the people who had made their lives much more miserable. War messes people up. Especially on the side that “lost”. Grey has written a story that addresses the times and its prejudices and challenges. As usual, he brings nature to life with accurate descriptions. Yes. Pecos River country really was that harsh.


Reviews:


Translations:

  • Audiobook: Narrated by Eric G. Glove; Brilliance Audio, 2017
  • Afrikaans: Wes van die Pecos; Afrikaanse Pers-Boekhandel, 1956
  • Croatian: Zapadno od Pecosa; Translated by Omer Lakomica; Rijeka, Otokar Keršovani, 1961/1985
  • Czech: Na západ od Pekosu; Translated by Josef Vorel/Jan Hora; V Praze, Novina, 1938; Illustrated by Václav Kotrch 1938
  • Finnish: Texasin tyttö; WSOY, 1944
    • Pecos-joelta länteen; Taikajousi, 1982
  • German: Männer aus Texas; Translated by Franz Eckstein; Berlin: Knaur, 1938
  • Italian: A occidente del Pecos; Translated by Rossana De Michele; Milano, Sonzogno, 1969
  • Norwegian: Vest for Pecos; Translated by Paul Evan; Romanforlaget, 1962
  • Spanish: Al Oeste Del Pecos; Traducción, Luis Conde Vélez, Círculo de Lectores, 1966

Sources

 
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Posted by on 2018-02-18 in Books

 

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The Lost Wagon Train (1936)

Cover illustration by Harrison Fisher

The Lost Wagon Train came about because the Depression of the 1930’s forced Zane Grey to face that one cannot keep on spending money without having some to spend. Cosmopolitan Magazine published the serial “The Lost Wagon Train” in 4 episodes from July-October 1932. According to Joe Wheeler (foreword 2016 ed) The Lost Wagon Train is seen as a companion piece to Fighting Caravans. Not until 1936 did Harper & Brothers publish The Lost Wagon Train in book form. The story is now available to borrow on Internet Archive. Pages 12, 13 and 175, 176 were not properly scanned.

All authors have their own style of writing. Zane Grey was no exception. The Lost Wagon Train is typical of Zane Grey romances in many ways. Latch has failed at love and failed in the military. Grey has yet again used nature as a character. In addition, the story is written for the white middle-class of his day. However, it is a darker story than most of his others.

“Latch’s band of outlaws and savages hid in Spider Web Canyon awaiting the Kiowa scouts who were to fetch news of any caravans that were approaching.

It was a summer night in 1861. Spider Web Canyon lay up in the first range of mountains rising off the Great Plains. The rendezvous had been a secret hiding-place of Satana, a fierce and bloody chief of the Kiowas. He and Latch had formed a partnership – a strange relation growing out of an accidental joint attack upon a wagon train.” (p. 1)

Chief Set-t’ainte was known as Chief Satana/Satanta among the white population.

Chief Satana in The Lost Wagon Train must be based on Kiowa Chief Satanta, (Set-t’ainte/White Bear). Satanta was a Chief whose guerilla tactics challenged the US Army and slowed down the invasion of his people’s lands. It is easy to forget that the Civil War was a war within a war. In The Lost Wagon Train Satana sees Latch’s gang as a tool to ally with but also as traitors to their people.

Stephen Latch “looked to be around thirty 30 years old and was the son of a Louisiana plantation owner“. When the Confederacy failed to bestow on him a commission in the Confederate Army he duelled with the officer who

“forestalled him. With blood on his hands and with all the Rebel hatred for the North in his heart, he had set out to wage his own battle with the Northerners. From a guerilla warfare it had degenerated into border outlawry.”

To Latch the Kiowas were disposable tools. He would gladly sacrifice them in his impossible search for revenge for acts brought upon himself.

It seems obvious that the way I understand stories depends on how old I am. When I first encountered “Vogntoget som forsvant” (Norwegian translation) I must have been around 10-13 years old. Back then, I read the story as a story without any understanding of the time it was written, the time it was describing and how incredibly difficult it is to determine exactly what makes something “right and wrong/good and bad”. Determining that has become more and more difficult with time. At this point of my life, I find myself unable to do so on purely logical grounds.

Understanding the behaviour of the Kiowa warriors during the first part of The Lost Wagon Train is easy peasy. War consists of a series of gruesome actions. Agreeing to massacre the entire wagon train makes sense as a tactic in this horror. At the 1867 Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty, Satanta spoke: “… I came to say that the Kiowas and Commanches have made with you a peace. The word shall last until the whites break their contract and invite the horrors of war. …” And the whites did.

“This must be the notorious war-cry of Indians, Cynthia recognized in it the great vengeful cry of the tribe that had been deceived, wronged, robbed, murdered.” (p. 58)

In The Lost Wagon Train Satana, Hawk Eye and the Kiowa warriors are stereotypically portrayed and made so Grey’s intended readers would buy his stories. “Uggh!” certainly pops up a lot. They are supporting characters, nothing more.

Other than Stephen Latch, the only other character who comes to life is Corny/Slim Blue. Estelle is more like most of Grey’s female leads. Corny does not appear until the second part of the story. The first part of The Lost Wagon Train is mainly about the forming of Latch’s gang and their massacre of the Bowden wagon train at Tanner’s Swale on Dry Trail. The second part of the story is a sort of redemption story but also has the required romance of any Zane Grey romance story.

“Let go of that woman, Leighton”

Many people see Stephen Latch as an evil man. Would they feel the same if the story had been about the massacre of a Commanche village? Or the annihilation of a plantation in the South? I don’t see either Latch or what he did as particularly evil. Or, rather, no more evil than all the terrible things humans do in the name of a cause. He is an expert at rationalization, objectifying his targets and soothes his conscience enough to go through with what he planned. Latch is a man who wants to survive and does not want to starve while doing so. His time is a brutal one, propaganda is intense and his methods are in line with that time’s methods. So, maybe Latch is not that different from you or me. What Stephen Latch is, is a complex character. I do not particularly like him, but he is still a great character for this story. Nor did I like John Bowden, who was about to be massacred. I have met many John Bowden’s in my life. People who have power over others are definitely not exempt from stupidity. Often it seems as if the degree of their greed equals the degree of their stupidity. Bowden is completely unwilling to even consider the dangers he is putting his caravan in. All that matters is getting his stuff to Fort Union as fast as possible.

My favorite character, as usual, is nature. During the build-up to the battle, Grey uses nature to change the rhythm of the story, possibly to give the reader breathers.

“transforming the canyon from a dark, gray-fogged, stone-faced crack in the wilderness to a magnificent valley of silver and gold iridescence. The wisps of clouds lifted up as on wings of pearly fire, the white cascade tumbled out of a ragged notch in the black rim, to fall and pause and fall again, like fans of lace; …”  (p 19).

Against orders, one person survives the destruction of Bowden’s wagon train. To say that Latch gets the shock of his life, is an understatement.

“Christ. Am I mad? … Who are you?” cried Latch in a frenzy.

“Stephen! You-you! … Oh, that you should be the one to save me.”

She sank to her knees with nerveless hands.

“No! … It can’t be! Not you! That would be too – too horrible.”

“Yes, it is I, Cynthia,” she whispered.

Of course she finds out almost immediately that Latch is leader of the gang. Because he is a weak man, Latch blames his actions on her. And, because of the way women were/are supposed to be, Cynthia accepts that blame.
“In a word – Leader of Latch’s band… To this you have brought me.”
……

“I will welcome death at your hands. I have brought you to this degradation;”

Latch has two friends in the gang. Keetch and Lester Cornwall. Keetch loses his leg in one raid, and stays in Latch’s Field taking care of Cynthia and Latch’s business. Lester Cornwall stays at Latch’s side. Again and again Cornwall warns Latch about another gang-member, Leighton, and every stinking time Latch ignores the danger. In fact, Latch is the only one who does not see the danger Leighton poses. I know it is a necessary literary device for this story, but I just have to say that Latch drove me crazier with this gullibility. Well, actually Grey drove me crazier.

Grey writes historical romances, not historical novels. This is why people, events and places do not match the time of the story. But many of these people, events and places were real. When Latch speaks of the Maxwell Land Grant on Vermigo, he is speaking of a place that actually existed.

When the time came for the gang to dissolve, Latch did well by his people.

“We’re here first. This valley is mine. I bought it from Santana. It is wonderfully rich in grass, water, climate. Farms will prosper here. Game abounds. The hills are covered with timber …My proposition to you all, except Leighton, is this. I’ll start you all with a ranch and cattle – say five hundred head each. A fine start! Also five thousand dollars each! Bunch together with some Mexicans, and Keetch here to superintend, and throw up cabins corrals, barns. Build homes. Get yourselves wives, even if they have to be squaws. And live down the past.”

And that brings us to the second part of the story. On page 152 Grey brings us to a future time that has Corny/Slim Blue as a main character, Estelle Latch is another one, and, this time around, Stephen Latch as a supporting character to both their stories. It begins with Slim saving Estelle and that, of course, brings romance into The Lost Wagon Train. Romance fraught with complications, huge complications – the kind Zane Grey loves. Gigantic complications rooted in Stephen Latch’s past.

Again, we see Grey’s love of the landscape when he writes about Corny’s reaction to seeing Latch’s Field for the first time.

Like all the valleys in this region, Latch’s headed in a notch under the hills. Only this one was by far the most imposing and beautiful of the ones he had seen. Green squares attracted his speculative eyes, groves of cottonwoods and ridges with a line of walnut trees marched to the opposite wall, meadows like parks of golden grass shone against the sunset. (p. 181)

Because of the way meaning changes, some of Greys sentences made me smile. All stories from that era do that to me. “Making love” is not intercourse nor does “ejaculation” have anything to do with semen. “Gay” is happy etc.

Latch’s way of being able to live with what he had done, accepting but not condoning, seems like a sensible method. It reminds me of stories from Rwanda. No matter what his motives were, Latch completely changed his behaviour once the band was dissolved. Leighton is a great example of what might happen if a person get stuck in their past. Yet letting go is such a difficult thing to do. The Tutsi and Hutu certainly know all about that. Just look at the way many Germans still try to make up for something their grandparents did. I certainly struggle plenty with letting go of hurt.


The Lost Wagon Train is found on Internet Archive


Reviews:


Translations:

  • Audio: The Lost Wagon Train; Narrated by John McLain; Brilliance Audio, 2017
  • Czech: Zmizelá karavana; Translated by Josef Vorel; Illustration by Zdeněk Burian; V Praze, Novina, 1938
    • Illustration by Josef Ulč; V Brno, Novina, 1993
  • German: Die Todeskarawane; Translated by Franz Eckstein; Berlin, Th. Knaur Nachf. 1937
    • Todes-Treck; Translated by E. Tabory; Bergisch Gladbach, Bastei-Verl, 1968
    • Der letzte Wagenzug; Translated by Alfred Dunkel; München, Wilhelm Heyne, 1973
  • Hungarian: Úri bandita és városi leány; Translated by Kosáryné Réz Lola; Budapest: Palladis, 1938
  • Italian: La carovana scomparsa; Translated by Nicoletta Coppini; Illustration by Guido Crepax; Milano, Sonzogno, 1968
  • Norwegian: Vogntoget som forsvant; Translated by Lars Berge; Oslo, Ingar Weyer Tveitan, 1961
  • Polish: Zaginiony tabor; Translated by Janina. Sujkowska; Illustrated by Lucjan Jagodziński; Warszawa: M. Arct, 1938
  • Portugese; A caravana perdida; Translated by Raul Correia; Illustration by Carlos Alberto Santos; Lisboa, Agencia Portuguesa de Revistas, 1961
  • Spanish; La caravana perdida; Translated by Luis Conde Vélez; Barcelona, Bruguera, 1950
    • Translated by Ramón Margalef Llambrich; Barcelona Molino, 1982
    • Argentina, Librostauro, 2010
  • Swedish: Vagntåget som försvann; Translated by J.E. Berg; Stockholm, Interdeal AB, 1964

Comics


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Posted by on 2017-07-28 in Books

 

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The Trail Driver: Zane Grey (1931)

Translator: Hansheinz Werner

Translator: Hansheinz Werner

Zane Grey’s stories were mainly written to entertain. Entertainment was achieved through action- and romance-driven stories. For a story written in the early 1900’s, there was quite a bit of cussing and violence. Readers should be aware of changes in word-usage. Commonly used words back then are considered racist today. Views expressed in The Trail Driver romanticize cowboys and discriminate against women, Native-Americans and African-Americans. In most ways The Trail Driver is representative of the propaganda of its day (Wisniewski/Nakamura).

Comment by Zane Grey in 1936, Cant, C.C. (2008)

American tribes

Portion of US map compiled by Aaron Carapella detailing Americans in the US before Europeans invaded

By the time of the cattle-drives, most of the Plains Indian tribes had been decimated in the genocide of Native American (Jawort). The Comanche were too busy trying surviving the American Army to fight cattle drives for anything but survival (Miheshua, p. 14).

The Trail Driver enters the US at a turning-point of the cattle-drives (1871). It was first published as a serial in McCall’s Magazine, Oct. 1931—Feb. 1932 and later published as hard-cover by Harper & Bros in 1935. Friesen points out that Zane Grey got the crossing of the Chisholm Trail at Doan’s Store wrong. Other than that, Grey seems to have his facts straight. (VC Friesen, ch. 27).

Adam Brite is a Euro-American, middle-aged, single and childless man. He has just made a profit off a run on the Chisholm-trail and seeks to further that profit by a second run. This time he is overly optimistic in buying 4500 head of long-horns (ornery buggers) plus about 200 mustangs for his remuda.

“A 12-man crew could manage a herd of 2,000 to 3,000 head. The trail boss was the ultimate authority on the trail, like the captain of a ship, and was paid $100 to $125 a month. Of the rest of the crew, the cook was the most important, earning about $60 per month.” (Texas Almanac)

Adam’s role in the story is that of father-figure. He joins in the work and tries to not play favorites. In many ways Brite’s role is to point out to the reader what might be going on inside people’s heads: “that the Uvalde cowboy had been shot through the heart by something vastly different from a bullet.” Sometimes he pranks Joe or Reddie if the mood hits him. I guess Adam is a greedy, kind-hearted racist man who was somewhat aware of his own racism.

The foreman Adam got himself has an excellent reputation. Like any good owner, he lets Texas Joe Shipman handle the crew as Joe sees fit. Joe is “tall amber-eyed, tawny-haired young giant might well play havoc with the heart of any fancy-free girl“. Fortunately, he is much more than that. He has to keep the feisty crew in check. Like he says: “I reckon I gotta make myself disliked,” The person he struggles most with (in true Zane Grey romance style) is Reddie Blayne. Joe organizes defense and offense against cattle-rustlers (Russ Hite and gang) and deals with Commanches. His worst problems are the combination of weather and long-horn cattle. .

Joe brings his friend Less Holden along “No better ever forked a hawse. But Less is the wildest hombre.” We don’t see much of Less during the story. His character is one on the outskirts of the crew and its adventure. Less calls himself a “walking calendar” due to his ability to figure out what day it is. The explanation is quite mundane, but I do not want to be a spoil-sport.

Library of Congress

Photo by William Henry Jackson, 1843-1942

Alabama Moze is the cook. “It took no second glance for the boss to be assured that this cook was a treasure“. He brought his own stocked chuck-wagon. In addition to being the place where food is made, the cowhands sleep under it if it rains. Alabama’s job is tough. In addition to getting up hours before the drivers and wranglers, Alabama has to haul wood whenever it was available or use dried cow/buffalo-turds for his fire. At times the chuck-wagon has to be hauled across rivers that sometimes went wild. Alabama is African-American. Grey shows us how African-Americans were usually (Massey, SA) treated on cattle-runs, “... On the trail it was not usual for any rider to share the tasks of a negro. Manifestly Pan Handle Smith was a law unto himself…”. Being the cook, Alabama was probably treated better than regular African-American cow-hands. He is the only one of the crew whose fate we do not learn.

Pan Handle Smith is a gun-fighter and “might have rode up this Trail with Jesse Chisholm an been doin’ it ever since.” Giff MacShane told me that Pan is Pecos Smith in West of the Pecos. When Adam hires him, Smith is looking to get out of San Antonio. Gun-fighters weren’t bad guys/gals per se. “Pan Handle Smith had been outlawed, but he had really been more sinned against than sinning.” During the story, Smith calms tempers in both cattle and feisty teen-agers and supports Shipman as foreman.

The Uvalde quintet are “de finest an’ fightenest boys I ever seen,“. Their leader is Deuce Ackerman who “appeared to be the most forceful personality“, a quality needed to handle his friends. We see more of him than the other four. San Sabe comes a close second. San Sabe “had Indian or Mexican blood, and his lean shape wore the stamp of vaquero.” He has a lovely voice and it works wonders “That was the magic by which the trail drivers soothed the restless long-horns.” Rolly Little is “small and round. He had yellow hair, a freckled face, and flashing brown eyes, as sharp as daggers.” Ben Chandler is a “typical Texas youth, long, rangy, loose-jointed, of sandy complexion and hair, and eyes of clear, light blue“. His drinking problem gets him into serious trouble with Deuce, Joe and Adam. Roy Hallett is the last of the five. He is “a quiet, somber, negative youth“.

In addition, Adam is joined by Hal Bender, “the tenderfoot from Pennsylvania, appeared to be a hulking youth, good natured and friendly, though rather shy“, and Whittaker (no first name) was “a red-faced, sleepy-eyed, young rider of twenty-two, notable for his superb physique“. Finally, at Pecan Swale, their first stop, their last addition in the form of Reddie Bayne arrives: “Before the rider stopped Brite answered to a presagement not at all rare in him—that there were meetings and meetings along the trail. This one was an event.” Brite is correct in his presentiment. No Reddie, no The Trail Driver.

Artist: Edward Rapier, July 27, 1878

Artist: Edward Rapier, July 27, 1878

Shortly after the arrival of Reddie, Grey reveals that Bayne is a girl. While not common, women on the trail were a known phenomenon. They chose this tough life for many reasons. “An’ I got the idee pretendin’ to be a boy would make it easier. Thet helped a lot. But I’d always get found oot.” Turns out the last boss who found her out wants her back. Wallen, a rancher from Braseda, is a nasty guy. He rides into the camp at Pecan Swale demanding Reddie: “… I want this rider, Reddie Bayne. He come to me in a deal I made with Jones at Braseda.” At this point the crew learns that Reddie is a girl. Adam has known it for some time.

Wallen is joined by Ross Hite. Ross is a cattle- and mustang-rustler. “Humph! Mebbe Hite is at the haid of this new game,” declared the boss, seriously. “Cattle-drivers sometimes lose half their stock from stampeders. I’ve heahed of one whole herd bein’ stole.” To add to the tension of the story, Grey throws in Comanche raiders.

The Indian mustangs were haltered to the saplings at the edge of the glade. What a ragged, wild-eyed bunch! They had nothing but halters. These they strained against at every rifle-shot. And more than a few of them faced the covert where the drivers lay in ambush. They had caught a scent of the whites. Heads were pointed, ears high, nostrils quivering.

Even the weather conspires to make life miserable for the drivers. In real life, the weather and ornery nature of the long-horns were enough of a challenge on most drives.

The night fell dark, with rumble of thunder and sheet lightning in the distance. The tired cattle bedded down early and held well all night. Morning came lowering and threatening, with a chill wind that swept over the herd from the north. Soon the light failed until day was almost as dark as night. A terrific hailstorm burst upon the luckless herd and drivers. The hailstones grew larger as the storm swept on, until the pellets of gray ice were as large as walnuts. The drivers from suffering a severe pounding passed to extreme risk of their lives. They had been forced to protect heads and faces with whatever was available. Reddie Bayne was knocked off her horse and carried senseless to the wagon; San Sabe swayed in his saddle like a drunken man; Texas Joe tied his coat round his sombrero and yelled when the big hailstones bounced off his head; bloody and bruised, the other drivers resembled men who had engaged in fierce fistic encounters.

I still enjoy Zane Grey’s stories, but keep on wondering how I would read them if I was Native American or African American. Whenever gender bias comes up, I’m jarred out of the flow. That is most likely a good thing and might well have to do with my sense of fairness evolving. Reading stories that were written almost 100 years ago, is always a strange experience. Noting that many stories today are still as problematic is kind of depressing.

During its heyday, between 1867 and 1884, some five million cattle and an equal number of mustangs were moved along the trail. 


The Trail Driver is available for free at Faded Page and Roy Glashan’s Library


Reviews:


Translations:

  • Croatian: Gonič stada; Translator: Omer Lakomica; Rijeka, Otokar Keršovani, 1966
  • Czech: Jezdci z pastvin; Translator:  Jaroslava  Vojtěchová; Praha: Olympia (to 1992), 1965
  • Finnish: Aavikon ratsastaja; Translator: Werner Anttila; Porvoo, Helsinki, W. Söderström, 1939
  • German: In der Prärie; Translator: Dr. Franz Eckstein, Berlin, Th. Knaur Nachf, 193
    • Sie kämpften sich durch; Translator: Hansheinz Werner; München: F. Schneider, 1969
    • In der Prärie; Translator: Hansheinz Werner; München: Heyne, 1981
  • Hungarian: A vöröshajú leány; Translator: Ruzitska Mária; Budapest, Palladis, 1937
  • Italian: La lunga pista; Translator: Simonetta Damiani; Milano, Sonzogno, 1968 (Cover artist: Guido Crepax)
  • Norwegian: Texas Joe; Translator: Claes Henrik Jaeger; Oslo, Ingar Weyar Tveitan, 1958
    • Chisholm-ruten; Translator: Claes Henrik Jaeger; Oslo, Fredhøi, 1982
  • Portugese: O guia da montanha; Translator: Fernanda Pinto Rodrigues; Lisboa: Ag. Port. de Revistas, 1959
  • Spanish: El conductor de manadas; Translator: Lino Novás Calvo / José Luis Fernández; Barcelona, Juventud, 1937

Sources

 

 
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Posted by on 2016-06-08 in Books

 

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Thunder Mountain (1932)

 Index map of southern and central Idaho mining regions; Credit: Idaho State Historical Society


Index map of southern and central Idaho mining regions;
Credit: Idaho State Historical Society

 

1932: October 22 – December 24: Collier’s Serial. Ten episodes.
1935: New York: Harper and BrothersThunder Mountain - Colliers magazine - 1st installment

I have an admission to make. A great many years ago I lived in Utah for five years with my family and attended High School there and went to Mormon religious classes, called Seminary. In both I learned the history of Mormons and the history of the West. But the only thing I retained about Idaho was potatoes. Idaho was/is known for its potatoes. Until I did the research for my review I knew absolutely nothing about Idaho and its gold rushes. Now I do.

Zane Grey wrote the novel Thunder Mountain while living on Williams Lake. Thunder Mountain derives its name from local Indians that named it after hearing thunder reverberate through the narrow valley forming Williams Lake.

Like many of Zane Grey’s historical romances, Thunder Mountain was based on real life happenings. There were indeed three brothers who came to Thunder Mountain. Their names were Lew, Ben and Dan Caswell. The brothers started their adventure at Thunder Mountain around 1894 and it was the brothers who gave Thunder Mountain its name.

Apparently, Zane Grey made the decision to write about the gold strike at Thunder Mountain in 1931.

Where did Elmer Keith spend most of his hunting and outfitting days? He was a guide for many years in the state in which he lived. In 1931, Keith guided the author Zane Grey and friends in the Middle Fork country. It was from this trip that Grey wrote the novel “Thunder Mountain”.

Real-life Emerson brothers;  Credit: Idaho State Historical Society

Real-life Emerson brothers;
Credit: Idaho State Historical Society

There were several gold rushes in the US and they were all mad affairs. Once the magic word “gold” was heard, people left their families and homes to seek after what they thought would be easy money. In the case of the Thunder Mountain rush, the magic words came from the Caswell brothers. We, however, are concerned with the fictional story.

One night when the afterglow of sunset loomed dull red upon the pool and the silence of the wilderness lay like a mantle upon the valley, the old beaver noticed a strange quivering ripple passing across the placid surface of her pool. There was no current coming from the brook, there was no breath of wind to disturb the dead calm. She noticed the tremors pass across the pool, she sniffed the pine-scented air, she listened with all the sensitiveness of a creature of the wild.

From high up on the looming mountain slope, from the somber purple shadow, came down a low rumble, a thunder that seemed to growl from the bowels of the great mountain.

Thunder Mountain comes to life and hundreds of years before the Emerson brothers enter life, gold begins to make its appearance near the surface of Thunder Mountain.

For long there was nothing. The valley seemed dead. The mountains slept. The stars watched. Wild life lay in its coverts. Then there came a ticking of tiny pebbles down the slope, a faint silken rustle of sliding dust, a strange breath of something indefinable, silence, and then again far off, a faint crack of rolling rocks, a moan, as a subterranean monster trying to breathe in the bowels of the earth, and at last, deep and far away, a rumble as of distant thunder.

Once again Thunder Mountain wakes. This time, those who hear are the Sheepeater Indians fleeing from soldiers taking over their lands. They decide to listen to its voice and move on.

Thunder Mountain - This is the valley all rightEnter the Emerson brothers (Sam, Jake and Lee/Kalispel/Kal). The Emerson brothers are the ones who begin the race for gold, but they are not the ones who end it. Indeed, once Kal comes back from getting supplies (Jake has gone off to stake a claim) he discovers the valley full of prospectors and empty of Sam. The main man in the valley, Rand Leavitt, claims that he had found the valley abandoned, but Lee suspects Rand of being his brother’s killer:

“Leavitt, I’ll let you off because men like you hang themselves,” declared Kalispel, bitterly. “But I’m accusin’ you before this crowd. You’re crooked, you made away with my brother an’ jumped his claim. I call on all here to witness my stand against you an’ my oath that I’ll live to prove it.”

Rand and Kal are our main male characters with Cliff Borden and Jake as their respective seconds. There are two female lead characters. One is Sydney Blair, the Easterner come west with her father. Sidney falls under the spell of Rand Leavitt while her father struggles with drinking and gambling. Nugget (Ruth) is a dance-hall girl. The job of a dance-hall girl was to get the customers to buy drinks and to dance with the men who came into the hall. They were generally considered bad girls but not “the worst sort” (Painted Ladies).

Knowing exactly who is good or bad in many of Zane Grey’s historical romances can be a difficult thing. Perhaps being able to tell good from bad has something to do with the lengths to which his characters are willing to go to satisfy their wishes. Rand Leavitt and his compatriots are certainly willing to do a great many nefarious deeds to maintain control of the wealth discovered in the valley (Thunder City). Kal and his brother have more scruples.

Sidney and her father seem to be kind of pitiful characters. Falling for Rand (or at least seeming to fall for Rand) has made Sidney blind and deaf to the evidence mounting against her love. That’s nothing new. I see that all the time in real life. Cognitive dissonance is painful and exhausting. I’ve been through it myself and taking off the blinders hurts. Sidney is in for a whole lot of pain.

Roosevelt Idaho - Monumental Creek - Thunder Mountain

Credit: Idaho State Historical Society

Nugget/Ruth is tougher sort. She has had to support herself to survive. Being a dance-hall girl would have exposed her to a plethora of personalities, traits and temperaments. Such a job would have shown her the worst and the best of men. Maintaining her belief in people and life must have been difficult. I imagine all dance-hall girls struggled with that. It is not a life I would choose for a daughter or son of mine, but it is a whole lot safer than needing to prostitute yourself. Like today, prostitutes had it rough.

Kal. Hmmm. I can understand him. Accepting responsibility for my actions was something I struggled with for a long time. Or perhaps it was more a case of accepting responsibility for the consequences of my actions. Kal has a tendency to make excuses for what has happened in his life. There are probably always mitigating circumstances in lives. But what happens, happens no matter what the circumstances were. At least that is what I have found and that is an acknowledgement we see Kal grow into as the story progresses.

Happy endings? Perhaps, but not really. As in real life, dreams are broken and so are lives. Some of the characters find peace in their hearts in spite of what they have been through to get there. I guess that could be called a happy ending.

And Thunder Mountain? Well Thunder Mountain continues to stand today and still sheds its skin from time to time, as I imagine it will continue to do for a long time to come.

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Thunder Mountain available at Ron Glashan’s library

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Reviews:

——————————————————————–

Translations:

  • 1935-1939: Das Goldgräbertal (German)
  • 1935: Il monte del tuono
  • 1939: Ukkosvuori (Finnish)
  • 1963: Gullgraverbyen (Norwegian)
  • 1936: Hromová hora (Czech)

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Posted by on 2014-09-04 in Books

 

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Betty Zane (Ohio River I) (1903)

Heroism of Miss Elizabeth Zane, 1851

Popular Graphic Arts; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-2355

Charles Francis Press, New York, 1903

Parents’ Magazine Press, 1947

In this busy progressive age there are no heroes of the kind so dear to all lovers of chivalry and romance. There are heroes, perhaps, but they are the patient sad-faced kind, of whom few take cognizance as they hurry onward. But cannot we all remember some one who suffered greatly, who accomplished great deeds, who died on the battlefield–some one around whose name lingers a halo of glory? Few of us are so unfortunate that we cannot look backward on kith or kin and thrill with love and reverence as we dream of an act of heroism or martyrdom which rings down the annals of time like the melody of the huntsman’s horn, as it peals out on a frosty October morn purer and sweeter with each succeeding note.

Betty Zane portrait from Zane Grey novel. Credit: West Virginia Division of Culture and History

Betty Zane portrait from Zane Grey novel.
Credit: West Virginia Division of Culture and History

The 1700’s was was a time when American Indians were becoming increasingly hostile. No wonder. The invaders were moving farther and farther west and were basically squatting on American Indian land. I can’t say I would be too happy about that myself.

These reckless bordermen knew not the meaning of fear; to all, daring adventure was welcome, and the screech of a redskin and the ping of a bullet were familiar sounds; to the Wetzels, McCollochs and Jonathan Zane the hunting of Indians was the most thrilling passion of their lives; indeed, the Wetzels, particularly, knew no other occupation. They had attained a wonderful skill with the rifle; long practice had rendered their senses as acute as those of the fox. Skilled in every variety of woodcraft, with lynx eyes ever on the alert for detecting a trail, or the curling smoke of some camp fire, or the minutest sign of an enemy, these men stole onward through the forest with the cautious but dogged and persistent determination that was characteristic of the settler.

They at length climbed the commanding bluff overlooking the majestic river, and as they gazed out on the undulating and uninterrupted area of green, their hearts beat high with hope.

The keen axe, wielded by strong arms, soon opened the clearing and reared stout log cabins on the river bluff. Then Ebenezer Zane and his followers moved their families and soon the settlement began to grow and flourish. As the little village commenced to prosper the redmen became troublesome. Settlers were shot while plowing the fields or gathering the harvests. Bands of hostile Indians prowled around and made it dangerous for anyone to leave the clearing. Frequently the first person to appear in the early morning would be shot at by an Indian concealed in the woods.

General George Rodgers Clark, commandant of the Western Military Department, arrived at the village in 1774. As an attack from the savages was apprehended during the year the settlers determined to erect a fort as a defense for the infant settlement. It was planned by General Clark and built by the people themselves. At first they called it Fort Fincastle, in honor of Lord Dunmore, who, at the time of its erection, was Governor of the Colony of Virginia. In 1776 its name was changed to Fort Henry, in honor of Patrick Henry. (From prologue)

As we see from Zane Grey’s prologue the men who set out to settle new land did not care what it took to acquire that land.

Back then a common term for the American Indian was savage. I imagine a term like that made it easier for the people coming to conquer lands to justify their deeds. Like the many stories of people coming from other places and taking land from the natives, this era in the history of the US nation is something one needs to regret. While both sides of the battle for land were guilty of atrocities, there is no doubt which side bears the greater blame. That does not exclude individuals from being able to perform heroic deeds to save their own group from destruction. Elizabeth Zane was such a person.

Elizabeth “Betty” Zane McLaughlin Clark (July 19, 1765 – August 23, 1823) was a heroine of the Revolutionary War on the American frontier. She was the daughter of William Andrew Zane and Nancy Ann (née Nolan) Zane, and the sister of Ebenezer Zane, Silas Zane, Jonathan Zane, Isaac Zane and Andrew Zane. (Wikipedia)

The main attraction of the story about Betty Zane’s deed for me is the fact that we finally get to hear about a woman being the great example to follow. Zane Grey’s stories are filled with women who are strong. But he cannot help himself when he lets patriarchy shine through his depiction of his ancestor and the other women of his stories.

Elizabeth Zane - Poem from St NicholasBut what can women do in times of war? They help, they cheer, they inspire, and if their cause is lost they must accept death or worse. Few women have the courage for self-destruction. “To the victor belong the spoils,” and women have ever been the spoils of war.

No wonder Silas Zane and his men weakened in that moment. With only a few charges for their rifles and none for the cannon how could they hope to hold out against the savages? Alone they could have drawn their tomahawks and have made a dash through the lines of Indians, but with the women and the children that was impossible.

“Wetzel, what can we do? For God’s sake, advise us!” said Silas hoarsely. “We cannot hold the Fort without powder. We cannot leave the women here. We had better tomahawk every woman in the block-house than let her fall into the hands of Girty.”

“Send someone fer powder,” answered Wetzel.

“Do you think it possible,” said Silas quickly, a ray of hope lighting up his haggard features. “There’s plenty of powder in Eb’s cabin. Whom shall we send? Who will volunteer?”

Three men stepped forward, and others made a movement.

“They’d plug a man full of lead afore he’d get ten foot from the gate,” said Wetzel. “I’d go myself, but it wouldn’t do no good. Send a boy, and one as can run like a streak.”

“There are no lads big enough to carry a keg of powder. Harry Bennett might go,” said Silas. “How is he, Bessie?”

“He is dead,” answered Mrs. Zane.

Wetzel made a motion with his hands and turned away. A short, intense silence followed this indication of hopelessness from him. The women understood, for some of them covered their faces, while others sobbed.

“I will go.” (Chapter XIV)

And so Elizabeth gets the chance to shine, to show the world that women are more than they are allowed to be in a society where women are thought to the be the nurturers not the protectors. She shows that if there are people in war who have courage it is the women who are expected to support but not chance their own lives. Not matter what my views are on the conflict between the various sides of the American Revolution and the Anglos against the Native Americans, Elizabeth Zane is to me a person whose courage shines as the sun.

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Available at Lambertville Library (with illustrations by Louis F. Grant)

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Translations:

  • Bosnian: Posljednji graničar; Kapić, Dika; Sarajevo, Oslobođenje, 1990.
  • Croatian: Betty Zane (Posljednji graničar); Lakomica, Omer; Rijeka, Otokar Keršovani, 1960.
  • Czech: Betty Zane; Vorel, Josef, Brno, Návrat, 1927.
  • Dutch: Betty Zane (Een kind van het Westen); Roldanus, Jr., W J A; Utrecht, A.W. Bruna & Zoon’s. Uitgevers-Maatschappij, 1925.
  • Estonian: Betty Zane; Tallinn, Olion, 1996.
  • Finnish: Betty Zane (seikkailukertomus Pohjois-Amerikasta intiaanisotien ajoilta); Nyman, O. E.; Helsinki, Kirja, 1925.
  • German: Betty Zane (Heldenmädchen von Fort Henry); Werner, Baudisch, Paul; Berlin, Th. Knaur Nachf., 1928.
  • Hungarian: Betty Zane: regény (A vadon leánya); Zigány, Árpád; Budapest, Palladis Rt. Kiadasa, 192-.
  • Italian: Betty Zane; Pitta, Alfredo; Milano, Sonzogno, 1932.
  • Norwegian: Betty Zane; Thue, Hans Fr.; Oslo, Fredhøi, 1920. (Gratis tilgang Nasjonalbiblioteket for norske IPer)
  • Serbian: Betty Zane; Kumanac, Vlado; Zagreb, HRT Naklada, 1944.
  • Slovakian: Neodovzdaný list; Dzurillová, Elena & Schnitzer, Teodor; Bratislava, Mladé letá, 1985.
  • SpanishLa heroína de Fort Henry: Betty Zane; Gols, Joan; Barcelona, Juventud, 1929.

    • Catalan Spanish: Betty Zane; Jané, Jordi; Barcelona, Joventut, 1989

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Posted by on 2014-07-13 in Books

 

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The Spirit of the Border: A Romance of the Early Settlers in the Ohio Valley (Ohio River II) (1906)

Treaty William Penn with the Lenni Lenapes; Artist: Nathaniel Currier

Treaty William Penn with the Lenni Lenapes;
Artist: Nathaniel Currier

A.L. Burt Company, 1906
Double Action Western Magazine, January 1936

The beginning of The Spirit of the Border has its roots in the peace treaty William Penn made with the Native Americans in 1682. The peace forged then ended by Governor Gordon at the Council at Conestoga, May 26, 1728. Naturally bad feelings started developing at this breach of trust. The Delaware People of the area tried to uphold their end of the peace. (Peace Treaty)

Artist: John Watson Davis

Artist: John Watson Davis

In his introduction to Spirit of the Border Zane Grey writes:

“The author does not intend to apologize for what many readers may call the “brutality” of the story; but rather to explain that its wild spirit is true to the life of the Western border as it was known only a little more than one hundred years ago.

….

The frontier in 1777 produced white men so savage as to be men in name only. These outcasts and renegades lived among the savages, and during thirty years harassed the border, perpetrating all manner of fiendish cruelties upon the settlers. They were no less cruel to the redmen whom they ruled, and at the height of their bloody careers made futile the Moravian missionaries’ long labors, and destroyed the beautiful hamlet of the Christian Indians, called Gnaddenhutten, or Village of Peace.

….

The border needed Wetzel. The settlers would have needed many more years in which to make permanent homes had it not been for him. He was never a pioneer; but always a hunter after Indians. When not on the track of the savage foe, he was in the settlement, with his keen eye and ear ever alert for signs of the enemy. To the superstitious Indians he was a shadow; a spirit of the border, which breathed menace from the dark forests. To the settlers he was the right arm of defense, a fitting leader for those few implacable and unerring frontiersmen who made the settlement of the West a possibility.”

Lewis Wentzel loads on the run; Artist:

Lewis Wetzel loads on the run (17 yrs old); From Conquering the Wilderness; Or, a New Pictorial History of the Life and Times of the Pioneer Heroes and Heroines of America; by: Colonel Frank Triplet, 1883

Lewis Wetzel did not become a hater of the Native Americans by chance. He and his brothers 13 and 11) were captured by Wyandot raiders in 1777.  Three days after capture the boys managed to escape in spite of Lewis being shot across the sternum.

From then on Lewis Wetzel made it his mission to become the best frontiersman that he could. Skills needed for that were fighting, tracking and deductive abilities. He fought the enemies of his people as well as he could, took the scalps of the enemy and sometimes rescued captured.

Consensus was that he was just killing “varmint” and doing society a service by getting rid of those pesky red-skins. Literature, propaganda and other media of the time reflected this vision of the Native Americans.

So well was he known among the Native Americans that he gained the name “Deathwind”.

Spirit of the Border is supposed to be based on the journal of Zane Grey’s ancestor, Ebenezer Zane. We continue on from Grey’s first historical novel, Betty Zane. The time is close to the time of the Moravian massacre. Most of the characters of The Spirit of the Border are based on real life characters. Artistic license has been taken with their presentation.

Nell Wells and her sister Kate have gone West with their uncle to be Moravian missionaries to the Native Americans living there. On the way there she had met Joe Downs. Joe had come West with for adventure. Adventure always sounds so much fun. Then you are in the middle of it, and well – sometimes it is, sometimes it is not.

I wanted to come West because I was tired of tame life. I love the forest; I want to fish and hunt; and I think I’d like to—to see Indians.

Joe seems to have fallen for Nell, makes his intentions clear, is rebuffed (except the rebuff was made toward his almost identical brother Jim). Zane Grey’s career as a romance writer is now a fact. So is his tendency to create love triangles. Joe, Nell, Jim and Kate are not real life characters.

Looks are not the only thing Jim and Joe have in common. Their interest in Nell is very much similar. Differences are clear to the reader, the brothers and their friends. Jim is a Moravian preacher while Joe is anything but.

Seeing things with hind-sight is always a wonderful way to read a story. Because I am an Asperger I get side-tracked easily while maintaining my focus on the main story. Facts are seductive to me. Simon Girty had been adopted into one of  the Seneca tribes as a child. Both sides in the American Revolution used Girty to their own ends. When the Americans arrested and tried Girty for treason he felt no incentive to help them any longer.

“He’s a traitor, and Jim and George Girty, his brothers, are p’isin rattlesnake Injuns. Simon Girty’s bad enough; but Jim’s the wust. He’s now wusser’n a full-blooded Delaware. He’s all the time on the lookout to capture white wimen to take to his Injun teepee. Simon Girty and his pals, McKee and Elliott, deserted from that thar fort right afore yer eyes. They’re now livin’ among the redskins down Fort Henry way, raisin’ as much hell fer the settlers as they kin.”

Joe is quite the prankster. Pranks always have unintended consequences, some of them more serious than others. Pranks across cultures are extremely difficult to pull off and Shawnee chiefs might not be the best people to pull one on. In fact Joe and Jim get captured by the same chief and his warriors not long after.

GnadenhuttenMassacreHistoricalMarker

“On March 8 and 9, 1782, a group of Pennsylvania militiamen under the command of Captain David Williamson attacked the Moravian Church Mission founded by David Zeisberger at Gnadenhutten. The Americans struck the natives in retaliation for the deaths and kidnapping of several Pennsylvanians. Although the militiamen attacked the Christian Indians, these natives were not involved in the previous incident. The Christian Delaware had abandoned Gnadenhutten the year before, but had returned to harvest crops that were still in the fields.

On March 8, the militiamen arrived at Gnadenhutten. Accusing the natives of the attack on the Pennsylvania settlement, the soldiers rounded them up and placed the men and women in separate buildings in the abandoned village overnight. The militiamen then voted to execute the captives the following morning. Informed of their impending deaths, the Christian Delaware spent the night praying and singing hymns. The next morning the soldiers took the natives in pairs to a cabin, forced the natives to kneel, and proceeded to crush their skulls with a heavy mallet. In all Williamson’s men murdered 28 men, 29 women and 39 children. There were only two survivors, who alerted the missionaries and Christian Indians of what had occurred.” (Jim Cummings)


The Spirit of the Border available on Gutenberg


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Posted by on 2014-07-12 in Books

 

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The Last Trail (Ohio River III) (1909)

Helen being captured by Indians - By J Watson Davis

A.L. Burt, New York 1909
Double-Action Western Nov, Dec 1936, Jan, Feb 1937 (Galactic Central)

The Last Trail is the last of the Ohio River stories. It is the last novel in which we will meet Lewis Wetzel and the Zane family of yon times. Outing Publishing were the publishers.

“In 1762 two brothers, Isaac and Jonathan Zane, aged 9 and 11, were kidnapped by Indians while returning home from school” (Myeerah)

Jonathan Zane and Lewis WetzelHelen Sheppard is traveling with her father to Fort Henry. Their guide is leading them straight into a trap but something goes wrong and the trap does not close. Instead they meet Jonathan Zane and Lewis Wetzel. The Sheppard’s were incredibly glad to have gotten away from trouble scot-free and thanked Colonel Ebenezer Zane when they arrived at Fort Henry.

Sheppard Sr. has come to Fort Henry for land. What he does not seem to have realised yet is the extent to which the place gets attacked. Colonel Zane tells them more about what to expect when it comes to attacks and the two men who rescued them.

Earnestly, as a man who loves his subject, Colonel Zane told his listeners of these two most prominent characters of the border. Sixteen years previously, when but boys in years, they had cast in their lot with his, and journeyed over the Virginian Mountains, Wetzel to devote his life to the vengeful calling he had chosen, and Jonathan to give rein to an adventurous spirit and love of the wilds. By some wonderful chance, by cunning, woodcraft, or daring, both men had lived through the years of border warfare which had brought to a close the careers of all their contemporaries.

One of the younger women in the area is kidnapped by one of the tribes in the area. Jonathan suspects that if the Girtys see Helen that she will be next.

Once again we meet Betty Zane. The Zane sister has become a widow. We also meet the third Zane brother, Isaac and his wife.

Jonathan and Helen carry the romantic element of the story with all of the complications that would become part and parcel of Zane Grey’s romantic stories of the West. Both of them are real life people along with most of the other characters of the story of the settling of Ohio by Anglos and the removal of the Native Americans in the area.

Blue Jacket (1740s-1810s);

Blue Jacket (1740s-1810s);

… the name “Ohio” is an Iroquoian Indian word? It came from the Seneca name for the Ohio River, Ohiyo, which means “it is beautiful”.

Most Native Americans were forced to leave Ohio during the Indian Removals of the 1800’s. These tribes are not extinct, but except for the descendants of Ohio Indians who escaped from Removal, they do not live in Ohio anymore. They were moved to Indian reservations in Oklahoma instead. (Native American tribes of Ohio)

Blue Jacket led Native Americans at the Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794 against General Anthony Wayne’s forces. It was a major defeat for Blue Jacket, resulting, ultimately, in the Treaty of Greenville (1795) which turned over half of Ohio to the Americans. (Ohio Biographies)

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The Last Trail available on Gutenberg

The Last Trail available as audiobook on YouTube

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Posted by on 2014-07-11 in Books

 

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The Last of the Plainsmen (1908)

Credit: Zane Grey: From the 1911 Grosset & Dunlap edition

Credit: Zane Grey: From the 1911 Grosset & Dunlap edition

Hodder and Stoughton, 1908

In his introduction to The Last of the Plainsmen Zane Grey writes:

In the spring of 1907 I was the fortunate companion of the old plainsman on a trip across the desert, and a hunt in that wonderful country of yellow crags, deep canyons and giant pines. I want to tell about it. I want to show the color and beauty of those painted cliffs and the long, brown-matted bluebell-dotted aisles in the grand forests; I want to give a suggestion of the tang of the dry, cool air; and particularly I want to throw a little light upon the life and nature of that strange character and remarkable man, Buffalo Jones.

The San Francisco Peaks as viewed from Elden Mountain;  Credit: Tyler Finvold, 30 November 2006

The San Francisco Peaks as viewed from Elden Mountain;
Credit: Tyler Finvold, 30 November 2006

Buffalo Jones belonged to that strange set of hunters that loved hunting predators yet made certain they were alive. He was considered eccentric. One old-timer told Zane Grey:

“Say, young feller, I heerd yer couldn’t git acrost the Canyon fer the deep snow on the north rim. Wal, ye’re lucky. Now, yer hit the trail fer New York, an’ keep goin’! Don’t ever tackle the desert, ‘specially with them Mormons. They’ve got water on the brain, wusser ‘n religion. It’s two hundred an’ fifty miles from Flagstaff to Jones range, an’ only two drinks on the trail. I know this hyar Buffalo Jones. I knowed him way back in the seventies, when he was doin’ them ropin’ stunts thet made him famous as the preserver of the American bison. I know about that crazy trip of his’n to the Barren Lands, after musk-ox. An’ I reckon I kin guess what he’ll do over there in the Siwash. He’ll rope cougars—sure he will—an’ watch ’em jump. Jones would rope the devil, an’ tie him down if the lasso didn’t burn. Oh! he’s hell on ropin’ things. An’ he’s wusser ‘n hell on men, an’ hosses, an’ dogs.”

On their journey together Jones and Grey had their Mormon guides, five hounds and their horses.

The falls shown in this photograph were 28 feet high pre-1907;  Credit: H.T. Cory

The falls shown in this photograph were 28 feet high pre-1907;
Credit: H.T. Cory

Zane Grey got to experience the fear of the old version of the Colorado River (Rio Colorado).

They arrived at Jones’ ranch and Zane Grey got meet Buffalo Jones farm-hands. Jones’ farm-hands played a mustang-prank on Grey so they could test his mettle. When they went out to take a look at Jones Cattalo, the ranch-hands gave Zane Grey a frisky white mustang so he could be challenged beyond his abilities. Grey ended up calling that mustang Satan.

Cattalo;  Credit: J.H. Cano

Cattalo;
Credit: J.H. Cano

Jones and Grey leave the ranch and continue through their adventures of trying to catch the last buffalo herd, avoid fighting with Native Americans, keeping hydrated in the desert, listening to their guides and hunting for predators.

The Last of the Plainsmen is an interesting look at the journey of two Westerners in a country that had changed irrevocably during the life of the last of the plainsmen who just happened to be one of them.

I spoke the last good-by and turned Satan into the narrow trail. When I looked back Jones stood on the rim with the fresh glow of dawn shining on his face. The trail was steep, and claimed my attention and care, but time and time again I gazed back. Jones waved his hand till a huge jutting cliff walled him from view. Then I cast my eyes on the rough descent and the wonderful void beneath me. In my mind lingered a pleasing consciousness of my last sight of the old plainsman. He fitted the scene; he belonged there among the silent pines and the yellow crags.

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The Last of the Plainsmen available on Gutenberg

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University of Arizona, special collections: Title page

University of Arizona, special collections: Draft ch 15

 
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Posted by on 2014-07-09 in Books

 

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The Heritage of the Desert (1910)

Credit: Galactic Central

Credit: Galactic Central

The Popular Magazine starting 15th June 1910 (5 episode serial)
Harper & Brothers, New York 1910
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine starting May 1947
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Dec 1949, Jan 1957, and Jan 1961 (Galactic Central)

The Heritage of the Desert is set to cirka 1878 in Arizona: Lee’s Ferry and Painted Desert (ZGWS).

The Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park;  Credit: Lsaldivar, 20th July 2011

The Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park;
Credit: Lsaldivar, 20th July 2011

John Hare is discovered dying in the desert by Mormons. Because of his settings, Zane Grey often writes about Mormons. Some of his novels are scathing in their critique of their practice of polygamy. But in general he treated them as he treated any other character in his novels. Some were creeps and others were obviously admired by him.

At the very beginning of The Heritage of the Desert we meet a group of men who happen to be Mormons. These guys were worried about helping John Hare who was obviously out to get the outlaw Dene.

“Leave him here,” said one, addressing a gray-bearded giant. “He’s the fellow sent into southern Utah to spy out the cattle thieves. He’s all but dead. Dene’s outlaws are after him. Don’t cross Dene.”

I imagine most of us can relate to not wanting to mess with the baddies. Some of the group decide to leave while August Nabb and his boys decide to save Hare from death by desert.

August Nabb’s party consisted of himself, his sons and his adopted daughter Mescal, wife and other comely women.

Sunset in White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument;  Credit: PDTillman, 15th October 2012

Sunset in White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument;
Credit: PDTillman, 15th October 2012

John Hare had come West for his health. He had been thought a spy. These accusations made it necessary for him to run. Hare had gotten lost and one simply does not get lost in the desert. We quickly see that the outlaws have not given up on finding him.

What Hare discovers is that the regular settlers are harried by two main parties. One of those is the Dene outlaw gang. For the most part these guys steal cattle from the ranchers in the area. Holderness steals something that the people there hold much dearer: Land.

“August, some of our young men need no one to corrupt them. Dene had no great task to win them. He rode in here with a few outlaws and now he has a strong band. We’ve got to face it. We haven’t any law, but he can be killed. Some one must kill him. Yet bad as Dene is, he doesn’t threaten our living as Holderness does. Dene steals a few cattle, kills a man here and there. Holderness reaches out and takes our springs. Because we’ve no law to stop him, he steals the blood of our life—water—water—God’s gift to the desert! Some one must kill Holderness, too!”

Not only does John Hare learn of the troubles the Mormon settlers encounter, he also learns about their faith and discovers that he is in love with Mescal. Loving Mescal is a problem because August Naab would like her to marry one of his own sons.

Painted Desert, Utah;  Credit: Eddie Lluisma

Painted Desert, Utah;
Credit: Eddie Lluisma

As with a couple of his earlier biographical works, we see Zane Grey favoring the romance genre in his writing. I find it fascinating that a man like Grey would be attracted to the romance industry. However, I have come to realize that men often wrote romance back in the day. Most of the authors on the market had male names. I don’t know what the tendency is today.

Back to The Heritage of the Desert. John Hare is very much aware of how much he owes August Nabb.

“They said I fell among thieves,” mused Hare, when he was once more alone. “I’ve fallen among saints as well.” He felt that he could never repay this August Naab. “If only I might live!” he ejaculated. How restful was this cottage garden! The green sward was a balm to his eyes. Flowers new to him, though of familiar springtime hue, lifted fresh faces everywhere; fruit-trees, with branches intermingling, blended the white and pink of blossoms. There was the soft laughter of children in the garden. Strange birds darted among the trees. Their notes were new, but their song was the old delicious monotone—the joy of living and love of spring. A green-bowered irrigation ditch led by the porch and unseen water flowed gently, with gurgle and tinkle, with music in its hurry. Innumerable bees murmured amid the blossoms.

How on earth is he supposed to resolve his obligations to Nabb, his feelings for Mescal and being wanted by Dene and possibly Holderness?

Zane Grey often anonymized real life characters. Given the timeline of the story Cap Brown is a likely candidate for the role of Dene and his gang. (Nichols) It is probable that Holderness was based on the story of the land hungry character of the cattle baron I.W. Lacy.

The expansion of Utah’s cattle industry during the 1870s and 1880s was built upon four cornerstones that included small operations throughout the state, the cattle barons–ranchers like Preston Nutter, B. F. Saunders, James W. Taylor, the Whitmores, and the McIntyres whose animals numbered in the thousands, Mormon cooperative enterprises some associated with United Orders and others such as the Bluff Pool in southeastern Utah which grew in response to outside threats by the Lacy Cattle Company to take over rangeland and control access to water and other resources, and corporate cattle companies who tapped resources in Great Britain, Pittsburgh and other eastern cities, and even Utah investors to found such companies as the Carlisle Cattle Company, the Pittsburgh Land and Livestock Company, the Webster City Cattle Company and the Ireland Cattle Company among others. (UHG)

"Herd Quitters";  By Charles Marion Russell, 1902

“Herd Quitters”;
By Charles Marion Russell, 1902

Another main character of Zane Grey’s novels becomes extremely visible in The Heritage of the Desert. This character appears in every single one of his Western Romances. In The Heritage of the Desert the name of that character is Painted Desert in Utah. On his earlier journey with Buffalo Jones, Zane Grey seemed to fall in love with the landscapes of Utah, Nevada and New Mexico. Having lived in Utah for a few years I see his point.  Grey’s writing captures the beauty of nature in a manner that even my brain manages to envision.

For Mescal was there. Far away she must be, a mere grain of sand in all that world of drifting sands, perhaps ill, perhaps hurt, but alive, waiting for him, calling for him, crying out with a voice that no distance could silence. He did not see the sharp peaks as pitiless barriers, nor the mesas and domes as black-faced death, nor the moisture-drinking sands as life-sucking foes to plant and beast and man. That painted wonderland had sheltered Mescal for a year. He had loved it for its color, its change, its secrecy; he loved it now because it had not been a grave for Mescal, but a home. Therefore he laughed at the deceiving yellow distances in the foreground of glistening mesas, at the deceiving purple distances of the far-off horizon. The wind blew a song in his ears; the dry desert odors were fragrance in his nostrils; the sand tasted sweet between his teeth, and the quivering heat-waves, veiling the desert in transparent haze, framed beautiful pictures for his eyes.

Wolf kept to the fore for some thirty paces, and though he had ceased to stop, he still looked back to see if the horse and man were following. Hare had noted the dog occasionally in the first hours of travel, but he had given his eyes mostly to the broken line of sky and desert in the west, to the receding contour of Echo Cliffs, to the spread and break of the desert near at hand. Here and there life showed itself in a gaunt coyote sneaking into the cactus, or a horned toad huddling down in the dust, or a jewel-eyed lizard sunning himself upon a stone. It was only when his excited fancy had cooled that Hare came to look closely at Wolf. But for the dog’s color he could not have been distinguished from a real wolf. His head and ears and tail drooped, and he was lame in his right front paw.

Hare halted in the shade of a stone, dismounted and called the dog to him. Wolf returned without quickness, without eagerness, without any of the old-time friendliness of shepherding days. His eyes were sad and strange. Hare felt a sudden foreboding, but rejected it with passionate force. Yet a chill remained. Lifting Wolf’s paw he discovered that the ball of the foot was worn through; whereupon he called into service a piece of buckskin, and fashioning a rude moccasin he tied it round the foot. Wolf licked his hand, but there was no change in the sad light of his eyes. He turned toward the west as if anxious to be off.

“All right, old fellow,” said Hare, “only go slow. From the look of that foot I think you’ve turned back on a long trail.”

Again they faced the west, dog leading, man following, and addressed themselves to a gradual ascent. When it had been surmounted Hare realized that his ride so far had brought him only through an anteroom; the real portal now stood open to the Painted Desert. The immensity of the thing seemed to reach up to him with a thousand lines, ridges, canyons, all ascending out of a purple gulf. The arms of the desert enveloped him, a chill beneath their warmth. (Chapter XIV. Wolf)

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The Heritage of the Desert available on Gutenberg, LibriVoxas MP3

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Posted by on 2014-07-08 in Books

 

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The Young Forester (1910)

Forest Ranger on forest fire patrol duty;   Cabinet National Forest, Montana, 1909;  Credit:

Forest Ranger on forest fire patrol duty;
Cabinet National Forest, Montana, 1909;
Credit:

Harper & Brothers, NY 1910

Zane Grey wrote the Ken Ward Books for Boys as adventure stories for a younger audience. In each of them Kenneth Ward sets off into the unknown and through him Zane Grey gets to present both places and issues that were important to him in a manner that appealed to a younger audience.

In The Young Forester Zane Grey discusses what it meant to be a U.S. Forest Service Ranger through his character Ken Ward. Ward has a dream and that dream is to become a Forest Ranger. He just needs to convince his father to let him go to Arizona so he can check the ranger life out in the company of his friend, Dick Leslie. Dick Leslie has already proven himself as a Forest Service Ranger by having the necessary qualities and having passed the required test.

Ken’s father feels Ken has romanticized the life of a ranger too much, but after Ken has taken him through his own woods he realizes that his son has studied the subject and tried to prepare for what lies ahead. So Ken gets his go ahead on the condition that Ken comes back and continues his studies in the autumn.

On his way West, Ken meets a man called Bluell who lives in Holston (Ken’s embarkation station). Ken manages to settle for the night in a hotel and right away sees that people are a lot tougher than he is. Someone as fresh from the East as Ken is in for a lot of trickery but not all are out to get him.

His very first advice is to keep his mouth shut about going into the Ranger business. Secondly, he shouldn’t talk so much about being from the East. And finally he gets advice on how to handle his riding and pack horse. In all these things Bluell seems to steer him true.

mill-at-tiger-creek

The Tiger Creek Mill; Credit: Sierra Nevada Logging Museum

Certain things come to light that Ken finds odd. Coming across the trail that he had lost the day before Ken sees the same Mexican man who had been following him around the evening before. Then Ken arrives at a mining operation in the hills that is run by Bluell. This operation is cutting an awful lot of trees and Ken wonders at how legal this operation is. Dick Leslie seems to have changed quite a bit. All of these things together and Ken is getting a bit worried.

According to one old (real life) ranger:

The only serious opposition I recall was from contractors undertaking to supply timber needed by the larger mining companies for fuel and mine timbers. They had been accustomed to cut large quantities where they pleased, without payment. When the forest reserves were created, the contractors didn’t even attempt to get permits or purchase the timber from the Government, but would help themselves. That kept my father and the rest of us busy. (Richard H. Hanna)

It just so happens that Bluell represents one such contractor and that they aren’t all that concerned about permits or payments. Illegal logging isn’t something people only did back in the old days when they supposedly did not know better. We are really good at it today as well.

Ward overhears Bluell revealing his thoughts about Ken. It isn’t pretty.

Fire fighters going to the front;   Lassen National Forest, California, 1927 (FHS5536);  Credit: U.S. Forest Service History

Fire fighters going to the front;
Lassen National Forest, California, 1927 (FHS5536);
Credit: U.S. Forest Service History

“His name’s Ward. Tall, well-set lad. I put Greaser after him the other night, hopin’ to scare him back East. But nix!”

“Well, he’s here now—to study forestry! Ha! ha!” said the other.

“You’re sure the boy you mean is the one I mean?”

“Greaser told me so. And this boy is Leslie’s friend.”

“That’s the worst of it,” replied Buell, impatiently. “I’ve got Leslie fixed as far as this lumber deal is concerned, but he won’t stand for any more. He was harder to fix than the other rangers, an’ I’m afraid of him.” he’s grouchy now.

“You shouldn’t have let the boy get here.”

“Stockton, I tried to prevent it. I put Greaser with Bud an’ Bill on his trail. They didn’t find him, an’ now here he turns up.”

“Maybe he can be fixed.”

“Not if I know my business, he can’t; take that from me. This kid is straight. He’ll queer my deal in a minute if he gets wise. Mind you, I’m gettin’ leary of Washington. We’ve seen about the last of these lumber deals. If I can pull this one off I’ll quit; all I want is a little more time. Then I’ll fire the slash, an’ that’ll cover tracks.”

“Buell, I wouldn’t want to be near Penetier when you light that fire. This forest will burn like tinder.”

“It’s a whole lot I care then. Let her burn. Let the Government put out the fire. Now, what’s to be done about this boy?”

Understandably, Ken worries where this is going to end. And so he should.

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The Young Forester (Ken Ward book for boys) available on Gutenberg

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Reviews:

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Posted by on 2014-07-07 in Books

 

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The Young Lion Hunter (Ken Ward II) (1911)

Pumawithdogs-copy

Mountain lion being hunted by hounds (hunting dogs)Credit: Grand Canyon National Park Museum Collection

Harper & Brothers, New York, 1911

The Young Lion Hunter is set to the summer after The Young Forester. Ken Ward has spent a year in college and wishes to work another summer as a Forest Service Ranger. Supervisor Birch allows it and Kenneth off for Utah.

At Holston he is met by his old friends, Dick Leslie and Jim Williams. At first they do not recognize him. Ken has changed quite a bit during his year at college.

To me Ken Ward had changed, and I studied him with curious interest. The added year sat well upon him, for there was now no suggestion of callowness. The old frank, boyish look was the same, yet somewhat different. Ken had worked, studied, suffered. But as to his build, it was easy to see the change. That promise of magnificent strength and agility, which I had seen in him since he was a mere boy, had reached its fulfilment. Lithe and straight as an Indian, almost tall, wide across the shoulders, small-waisted and small-hipped, and with muscles rippling at his every move, he certainly was the most splendid specimen of young manhood I had ever seen.

As a surprise, Ken has brought his younger brother Hal along. Their father had indicated his strong wish for this to happen. Freckles and red hair were Hal’s distinguishing marks along with an attitude that needed trimming. The 14-year old and his brother fit the mold that Zane Grey cast his sibling characters in. Hal is the intense, live in the moment type. Ken is more of the thoughtful and forward-thinking personality.

North Rim of the Grand Canyon;  Credit: Visit Southern Utah

North Rim of the Grand Canyon;
Credit: Visit Southern Utah

Dick Leslie explains that Ken will be his helper. Hiram Bent, game-warden, wishes for the rangers to hunt cougars. They are “thick as hops” and Bent wishes them gone. The area they will be hunting in is the north rim of the Cañon–Grand Cañon in Coconina.

Hal proves that he will not be bullied about his looks or about his riding-abilities. Choosing the finest looking mustang also brings him to the ground a few times before he learns that these mustangs “need” spurring to be ridden. Sounds pretty awful to me and maybe it is. That was the way it was done back then and Hal eventually learned how to handle his choosy pinto.

Pinto Mustangs Credit: Hest.no

Pinto Mustangs
Credit: Hest.no

Let’s face it. People are racists / ethnicists / culturalists /classists / genderists etc. We all are to one degree or another depending on the kind of propaganda we grew up with. Although Zane Grey could be considered one of the authors with a pro-Native American view, he was still a product of the propaganda he had grown up with. So you will to see some stereotyping here with regard to the Navajo guide the foursome have hired for their wildlife management job.

Hal is exposed to the camp-life of the rangers, the wildness of the Grand Canyons and a type of people he was not used to back East. Like Ken did the previous year, Hal loses many of his blinders during the trip and the four end up very definitely having an adventure.

“Hounds runnin’ wild,” yelled Hiram.

The onslaught of the hunter and his charger stirred a fear in me that checked admiration. I saw the green of a low cedar-tree shake and split to let in the huge, gaunt horse with rider doubled over the saddle. Then came the crash of breaking brush and pounding of hoofs from the direction the hounds had taken. We strung out in the lane Hiram left and hung low over the pommels; and though we had his trail and followed it at only half his speed, yet the tearing and whipping we got from the cedar spikes were hard enough indeed.

A hundred rods within the forest we unexpectedly came upon Hiram, dismounted, searching the ground. Mux and Curley were with him, apparently at fault. Suddenly Mux left the little glade and, with a sullen, quick bark, disappeared under the trees. Curley sat on his haunches and yelped.

“Shore somethin’s wrong,” said Jim, tumbling out of his saddle. “Hiram, I see a lion track.”

“Here, fellows, I see one, and it’s not where you’re looking,” I added.

“Now what do you think I’m lookin’ fer if it ain’t tracks?” queried Hiram. “Hyar’s one cougar track, an’ thar’s another. Jump off, youngsters, an’ git a good look at ’em. Hyar’s the trail we were on, an’ thar’s the other, crossin’ at right angles. Both are fresh, one ain’t many minnits old. Prince an’ Queen hey split one way, an’ Mux another. Curley, wise old hound, hung fire an’ waited fer me. Whar on earth is Ringer? It ain’t like him to be lost when thar’s doin’s like this.”

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The Young Lion Hunter on Gutenberg

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Reviews: Charles Wheeler

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Translations:

  • 1952: Ken der Pumajaeger (German)

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Sources

 
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Posted by on 2014-07-06 in Books

 

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Sunset Pass (1928)

Sunset Pass - American Magazine

American Magazine, April – October 1928
Grosset and Dunlap, 1931

W. H. D. Koerner is one of the illustrators of Zane Grey novels. He illustrated all seven episodes of the American Magazine publication of the Sunset Pass story published in 1928 from April to October.

Trueman Rock returns to a town he has not seen for six years.

“At the end of the flagstone walk Rock hesitated and halted, as if surprised, even startled. Across the wide street stood a block of frame and brick buildings, with high weatherbeaten signs. It was a lazy scene. A group of cowboys occupied the corner; saddled horses were hitched to a rail; buckboards and wagons showed farther down the street; Mexicans in colourful garb sat in front of a saloon.

Memory stirred to the sight of the familiar corner. He had been in several bad gun fights in this town. The scene of one of them lay before him and a subtle change began to affect his pleasure in returning to Wagontongue. He left the station.

But he had not walked half a block before he came to another saloon, the familiar look of which and the barely decipherable name–Happy Days–acted like a blow in his face. He quickened his step, then, reacting to his characteristic spirit, he deliberately turned back to enter the saloon. The same place, the same bar, and the faded paintings; the same pool tables. Except for a barkeeper, the room was deserted. Rock asked for a drink.”

Trueman walks the halls of memory with the people of today discovering what he is made of, who his true love is and what needs to be done to protect those he cares for. A walk down memory lane with the faces of today in front of you will often challenge previous assumptions. So too with Trueman. Some of those I called my dearest friends have now become as strangers to me because our paths through life have become too dissimilar. Sadly, our changes have not been compatible.

Illustration from American Magazine by WDH Koerner

Illustration from American Magazine by WDH Koerner

Trueman Rock becomes enchanted with Thiry Preston and decides to ask for a job with Gage Preston. Gage Preston seems to be the money of the Wagontongue-Winslow area. His son Ash is considered a bad apple. Every one of Trueman’s old friends warn him against taking up work with the Prestons due to Ash’s reputation and beginning suspicions about the wealth of the family. Rock is struck with his love for Thiry and ignores the advice but keeps his eyes open for potential trouble.

Sunset Pass is based on a real life incident – like many of Zane Grey’s other stories. In real life we meet the Marley family of the Flagstaff-Winslow, Arizona area.

The Marley family had moved into the area from Texas. They had brought some cattle with them and these were let loose on the range (although the other ranchers there did not welcome them). Babbitt’s, Hart’s and Gibbon’s outfits ranged with theirs. Marley’s branched out into the slaughtering business and built a slaughterhouse just outside of Winslow. The Marley’s made one gigantic mistake. The amount of cattle slaughtered and shipped out was way out of their league. Rube Neill started investigating.

“February 1911, Rube Neill, Sheriff Joe Wood of Navajo County and Les Hart, learning that the Marleys were out gathering cattle, went down to Jack’s Canyon and concealed themselves among the rocks where they would have a good view of the corral and slaughterhouse.

It was nearly sundown when they saw Marley and his sons drive a herd of cattle into the corral of the slaughterhouse. They waited until they heard the sound of the kill, and went down.”

The Marley’s were caught red-handed. (PEC, 1966)

Trueman Rock worries about the implication of Thiry not telling anyone about what her family is doing. He fears that she will be thought guilty by association. With him being as besotted with Thiry as he is, Trueman does not want this to happen. When he discovers that others seem interested in what is going on at the Preston ranch, Rock knows that it is only a matter of time before all is revealed.

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Sunset Pass on Gutenberg

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Navajo county history

Prescott Evening Courier – Nov 1, 1966

The Coconino Sun from Flagstaff, Arizona,  November 1, 1912: Pages 7 and 11

 
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Posted by on 2014-07-05 in Books

 

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Riders of the Purple Sage (1912)

Mormon polygamous family

Mormon polygamous family

Field & Stream,  January 1912 – July 1913
Grosset and Dunlap, 1912

Riders of the Purple Sage By: Greg Martin,

Riders of the Purple Sage
By: Greg Martin,

Riders of the Purple Sage was set to Southern Utah around the time of 1871. (ZGWS) At this point in time Mormons had a bad reputation, and rightly so in many instances. Polygamy was common practice among the leaders. Sometimes they would even marry the wives of “lesser” men. Whether they actually stole the wives of gentiles, I do not know.

Zane Grey was generally positive to Mormons. But when it came to their views on women and their practices with regard to polygamy he was not a fan. (Romancing the West) In fact Zane Grey considered the plural wives of mormon polygamous marriages to be the unhappiest women on the earth.

Wanted sign for patriarchsJane Withersteen’s was a Mormon woman of privilege. Her father had been Patriarch Withersteen and a fairly wealthy man. When he dies and leaves his land to Jane, she is left with more choices than quite a few widows of the time. One of those choices is to be kind to Gentiles. Some of them worked for her on her farm (Ventner) and the recently arrived gunman, Lassiter. Both try to protect Jane from the Elders of the Mormon church.

It was still daylight in the open, but under the spreading cottonwoods shadows were obscuring the lanes. Venters drew Jane off from one of these into a shrub-lined trail, just wide enough for the two to walk abreast, and in a roundabout way led her far from the house to a knoll on the edge of the grove. Here in a secluded nook was a bench from which, through an opening in the tree-tops, could be seen the sage-slope and the wall of rock and the dim lines of canyons. Jane had not spoken since Venters had shocked her with his first harsh speech; but all the way she had clung to his arm, and now, as he stopped and laid his rifle against the bench, she still clung to him.

“Jane, I’m afraid I must leave you.”

“Bern!” she cried.

“Yes, it looks that way. My position is not a happy one—I can’t feel right—I’ve lost all—”

“I’ll give you anything you—”

“Listen, please. When I say loss I don’t mean what you think. I mean loss of good-will, good name—that which would have enabled me to stand up in this village without bitterness. Well, it’s too late…. Now, as to the future, I think you’d do best to give me up. Tull is implacable. You ought to see from his intention to-day that—But you can’t see. Your blindness—your damned religion!… Jane, forgive me—I’m sore within and something rankles. Well, I fear that invisible hand will turn its hidden work to your ruin.”

“Invisible hand? Bern!”

“I mean your Bishop.” Venters said it deliberately and would not release her as she started back. “He’s the law. The edict went forth to ruin me. Well, look at me! It’ll now go forth to compel you to the will of the Church.”

“You wrong Bishop Dyer. Tull is hard, I know. But then he has been in love with me for years.”

“Oh, your faith and your excuses! You can’t see what I know—and if you did see it you’d not admit it to save your life. That’s the Mormon of you. These elders and bishops will do absolutely any deed to go on building up the power and wealth of their church, their empire. Think of what they’ve done to the Gentiles here, to me—think of Milly Erne’s fate!”

New Riders of the Purple SageLassiter is looking for his sister, Milly Erne. He fears she has been kidnapped by Mormon Elders. Sadly, he discovers that to be the truth and also discovers that she has already died. Milly Erne was lured away from her husband by Mormon Bishop Dyer. Dyer then turned her over to Withersteen who tied her up and raped her until she became pregnant with his child. Millie was then hidden away with the other wives of Patriarch Withersteen.

Jealousy and greed always looks for an excuse to do what is “right”. Elder Tull wants both Jane and her farm, but she does not want him. You all know that he is not going to be happy about Jane refusing him. The elders decide to use nefarious methods to carry out their goal and they do seem to succeed for a while. Gradually they frighten away most of her cowboys, and rustlers steal away her cattle, but the gunman Lassiter stands by her as the inevitable confrontation draws near.

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Riders of the Purple Sage on Gutenberg

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Reviews:

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Translations:

  • 1924: Purppurarinteiden ratsastajat (Finnish)
  • 1924: Den sorte rytter (Norwegian)
  • 1924: Purpurviddernas ryttare (Swedish)
  • 1930: Das Gesetz der Mormonen (German)
  • 1932: La valle delle sorprese (Italian)
  • 2008: Librivox recording
  • 1976: Lassiter (Italian)

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Posted by on 2014-07-05 in Books

 

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Desert Gold (unabridged: Shower of Gold) (1913)

Desert Gold - Zane Greys Western Magazine

The Popular Magazine Mar 1, Mar 15, Apr 1, Apr 15, May 1 1913
Harper & Brothers, New York, 1913
Field and Stream Jan, Feb, Apr, Jul 1915, Feb, Apr 1916
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine Jun 1948
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Jan 1950, Dec 1956

Tecolote Camp Pinacate Cholla;  Credit: Jack Dykinga

Tecolote Camp Pinacate Cholla;
Credit: Jack Dykinga

I have created a post of the prologue of Desert Gold. Victor Carl Friesen has commented on it being a short-story all by itself, and I thought I would follow up on that idea (ZGsWW)

Desert Gold was set to about 1911 in Altar Valley in Arizona and the Pinacate Range in Sonora (ZGWS).

Adventure is a vague term, a term often used as something people long for. “My life is so boring, why can’t something exciting happen?” As a child I often found myself romanticizing the lives of the main characters of Zane Grey’s novels. “I want that” is one thought that would go through my head (in Norwegian: “Jeg skulle ønske det kunne skje med meg”). Then adventure of a different sort came into my life and I discovered it was not how I thought it would be. Reading Zane Grey’s texts now makes me appreciate the life I have even more. The “good old days” simply were not especially “good”.

Nogales_Arizona_1910-1920

Nogales Arizona 1910-1920
Real-life Casita
Border marker between the US and Mexico

Richard Gale is at the point I was before my own adventures. He wanted away from the demands of his life. So, he did what a lot of people of the same mind in the US at that time did. He went West, to New Mexico. Around 1911 New Mexico was definitely an adventurous place with plenty of danger and excitement. Richard Gale embraces that adventure and finds himself both loving and hating it.

It was reflection such as this, only more serious and perhaps somewhat desperate, that had brought Gale down to the border. For some time the newspapers had been printing news of Mexican revolution, guerrilla warfare, United States cavalry patrolling the international line, American cowboys fighting with the rebels, and wild stories of bold raiders and bandits. But as opportunity, and adventure, too, had apparently given him a wide berth in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, he had struck southwest for the Arizona border, where he hoped to see some stirring life. He did not care very much what happened. Months of futile wandering in the hope of finding a place where he fitted had inclined Richard to his father’s opinion.

Richard Gale’s father is the Governor. His father is like many of Zane Grey’s fathers. Mr. Gale expects Richard (Dick) to fail and come crawling back home to daddy.

In Casita Dick meets an old friend. George Thorne is with the Ninth Cavalry of the army. Their assignment is to patrol the border and to the best of their ability uphold the peace. Richard’s arrival is at a time when Mexico seems just about to erupt in revolution. George is glad his commission expires in three months. At the time Dick met George, George was trying to get his sweetheart back from the rebel leader Rojas. Richard helps Thorne rescue Mercedes Castanrdes.

Desert Gold - Pancho VillaIn Desert Gold Rojas is called the Robin Hood of the poor. Pancho Villa held that role in real life. Like Rojas Villa was a strict leader. Many of the deeds performed by Villa are the same as the ones performed by Rojas in Desert Gold. Loved by some hunted by others.

Thorne sends Richard and Mercedes into the desert. He is afraid of what Rojas and his people will do. George has to return to his division and help them out against any potential explosion from the Mexican side.

In the desert Dick and Mercedes meets a couple of Anglo cowboys and go with them to the ranch of the Beldings by Forlorn River. Among the Beldings is one Nell. Nell is a lovely young girl with whom all young men seem to fall in love. She and Richard are about to become the main couple of the story with George and Mercedes as their side-kicks.

Desert Gold - Uprising_of_Yaqui_Indians_Remington_1896 Cowboys, cavalry , bandits, Native Americans and rangers all depend upon their horses. Horses have a large role in Desert Gold. Both greed and friendship play a part in the relationships we see between people and the horses we meet. And it really is no wonder that the relationship between human and horse was close. In their work both Thorne and Gale could be out on the range for days and weeks at a time. Some of the areas they ventured into were inhospitable for life of such size. Depending on the love of your horse could end up being a matter of life or death.

This lonely horseman bestrode a steed of magnificent build, perfectly white except for a dark bar of color running down the noble head from ears to nose. Sweatcaked dust stained the long flanks. The horse had been running. His mane and tail were laced and knotted to keep their length out of reach of grasping cactus and brush. Clumsy home-made leather shields covered the front of his forelegs and ran up well to his wide breast. What otherwise would have been muscular symmetry of limb was marred by many a scar and many a lump. He was lean, gaunt, worn, a huge machine of muscle and bone, beautiful only in head and mane, a weight-carrier, a horse strong and fierce like the desert that had bred him.

The rider fitted the horse as he fitted the saddle. He was a young man of exceedingly powerful physique, wide-shouldered, long-armed, big-legged. His lean face, where it was not red, blistered and peeling, was the hue of bronze. He had a dark eye, a falcon gaze, roving and keen. His jaw was prominent and set, mastiff-like; his lips were stern. It was youth with its softness not yet quite burned and hardened away that kept the whole cast of his face from being ruthless.

Zane Grey’s other favorite character of his novels is one here as well. Arizona, New Mexico and Utah’s natures feature heavily in his story, and according to some critics this where Grey shows his mettle as an author. Others find him too wordy. All of his words strung together makes the landscape come alive for me. There is no doubt in my mind that Grey’s greatest love affair was with the landscapes of his stories. No doubt at all.

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Desert Gold on Gutenberg

Shower of Gold, Kindle

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Magazines: The Beaver Herald 1923

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Posted by on 2014-07-04 in Books

 

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The Light of Western Stars (1913)

Munsey’s Magazine, May – December 1913
Harper & Brothers, New York, 1914
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, November 1949 (RGL)
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Jul 1951, Sep 1958
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (UK) v1 #6 195? (Galactic Central)

The Light of Western Stars was first published as a serial in Munsey’s magazine in 1913 then published as a novel in 1914. Its backdrop is most likely the beginnings of the Mexican revolution. Set to somewhere around 1912 in the San Bernardino Valley in Arizona and the Peloncillo Mountains in New Mexico the musings about interesting times in the novel do seem to indicate that incursions of guerilla had started. (ZGWS) Because of this forts were built along the border just in case.

Francisco-I-Madero-contra-Porfirio-Diaz-Historia-de-la-Revolucion-MexicanaMadeline (Majesty) Hammond had come to El Cajon in New Mexico to visit her brother, Alfred. She longed to see him again and to get away from the life of a socialite back East. Socialiting had lost its appeal and Madeline now longed for a life with greater meaning than the one she had lived. Once she arrives in El Cajon Madeline discovers that all is not well. For one thing her brother has not received notice of her coming, and for another she meets trouble in the form of Gene Stewart.

Ochard in El Cajon ca. time of novel

Ochard in El Cajon ca. time of novel

Her brother is not doing as well financially as he had intimated in his letters to his sister. Indeed, his financial situation is rather dire. Madeline steps in and supports him both financially and by trying to become part of the life he leads. She buys land for herself and discovers that the West is both wilder and tamer than she had thought and that people were not always what they first seemed.

“He’s sure going to feel the ground,” said Florence, smiling at Madeline. “Miss Hammond, I suppose that prize horse of yours—White Stockings—would spoil his coat if he were heah to roll in this greasewood and cactus.”

During lunch-time Madeline observed that she was an object of manifestly great interest to the three cowboys. She returned the compliment, and was amused to see that a glance their way caused them painful embarrassment. They were grown men—one of whom had white hair—yet they acted like boys caught in the act of stealing a forbidden look at a pretty girl.

“Cowboys are sure all flirts,” said Florence, as if stating an uninteresting fact. But Madeline detected a merry twinkle in her clear eyes. The cowboys heard, and the effect upon them was magical. They fell to shamed confusion and to hurried useless tasks. Madeline found it difficult to see where they had been bold, though evidently they were stricken with conscious guilt. She recalled appraising looks of critical English eyes, impudent French stares, burning Spanish glances—gantlets which any American girl had to run abroad. Compared with foreign eyes the eyes of these cowboys were those of smiling, eager babies.

“Haw, haw!” roared Stillwell. “Florence, you jest hit the nail on the haid. Cowboys are all plumb flirts. I was wonderin’ why them boys nooned hyar. This ain’t no place to noon. Ain’t no grazin’ or wood wuth burnin’ or nuthin’. Them boys jest held up, throwed the packs, an’ waited fer us. It ain’t so surprisin’ fer Booly an’ Ned—they’re young an’ coltish—but Nels there, why, he’s old enough to be the paw of both you girls. It sure is amazin’ strange.”

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The Light of Western Stars available on Gutenberg

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Border War (1910-19)

 
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Posted by on 2014-07-03 in Books

 

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The Lone Star Ranger/Rangers of the Lone Star (unabridged: The Last of the Duanes) (1914)

Texas Ranger Jack Coffee Hays

Texas Ranger John Coffee Hays
Credit: Hays County History

The Lone Star Rangers was published in All-Story Cavalier Weekly, 5 part serial beginning with v31 #2, May 9, 1914. Harper & Brothers were not completely happy with the story as it stood. When they saw Zane Grey’s new story The Last of the Duanes they cut it with nearly 90,000 words due to what they saw as too much violence. In its strongly edited form The Last of the Duanes was published in The Argosy, September of 1914.

What Harper & Brothers, New York then did was to combine these two stories into the story that most people have come to know as The Lone Star Ranger in 1915. In 1917 the story The Lone Star Ranger was also released on GRIT in October.

Credit: Galactic Central

Credit: Galactic Central

For this reason, readers of The Lone Star Ranger will find that inexplicable changes happen to the story and it flows rather poorly at times. Despite this it was a best-seller back in the day and because of this I recommend that you get Last of the Duanes.

In 1996 Rangers of the Lone Star/Last of the Duanes was published in unabridged form. When the somewhat autobiographical work of Last of the Duanes was published in its entirety and Buck and Jennie were resurrected into the unsympathic characters that the original publishers had felt them to be. (ZGWS) Lone Star Ranger/Last of the Duanes is set to the 1870s in Texas by the Neuces River headwaters and Mount Ord in western Texas (ZGWS). In the introduction to the story Zane Grey writes:

“It may seem strange to you that out of all the stories I heard on the Rio Grande I should choose as first that of Buck Duane—outlaw and gunman.

But, indeed, Ranger Coffee’s story of the last of the Duanes has haunted me, and I have given full rein to imagination and have retold it in my own way. It deals with the old law—the old border days—therefore it is better first. Soon, perchance, I shall have the pleasure of writing of the border of to-day, which in Joe Sitter’s laconic speech, “Shore is ‘most as bad an’ wild as ever!”

In the North and East there is a popular idea that the frontier of the West is a thing long past, and remembered now only in stories. As I think of this I remember Ranger Sitter when he made that remark, while he grimly stroked an unhealed bullet wound. And I remember the giant Vaughn, that typical son of stalwart Texas, sitting there quietly with bandaged head, his thoughtful eye boding ill to the outlaw who had ambushed him. Only a few months have passed since then—when I had my memorable sojourn with you—and yet, in that short time, Russell and Moore have crossed the Divide, like Rangers.

Gentlemen,—I have the honor to dedicate this book to you, and the hope that it shall fall to my lot to tell the world the truth about a strange, unique, and misunderstood body of men—the Texas Rangers—who made the great Lone Star State habitable, who never know peaceful rest and sleep, who are passing, who surely will not be forgotten and will some day come into their own.”

The Wapanucka Press (Wapanucka, Okla.);  Vol. 17, No. 29, Ed. 1 Thursday, November 2, 1916

The Wapanucka Press (Wapanucka, Okla.);
Vol. 17, No. 29, Ed. 1 Thursday, November 2, 1916

As the story begins, we meet Buck Duane the last of the fighting stock of the Duanes of Texas. Cal Bain has come to town with blood in his mind and Buck’s uncle fears that if the two meet gun-fighting with occur. His uncle worries that a meeting between the two will end up with Buck being hanged. But like most young people, experience is often the only way to learn. Buck does not listen to his uncle. Suddenly Buck finds himself an outlaw and in the company of another one by the name of Stevens.

The line between outlaw and lawman was often blurred in the days of the Wild, Wild West. Some of the lawmen had been outlaws and some of them weren’t really firm in their lawfulness after becoming Rangers or sheriffs and their ilk.

Duane’s role in Last of the Duane’s is one of a vigilante. He doesn’t want to live a life of crime, yet killing people seems to be the only thing he is good at. One consequence of this is the many deaths Duane sees during the novel. But another consequence is his need for some sort of redemption. While he has no regrets for killing the people he kills, Duane does want the killings to count for at least something semi-good. When the need to rescue the young girl, Jennie, from a gang leader and that leader’s wife the opportunity for redemption comes to Duane’s life. How it all ends for him is a good question.

“Jennie, run out! Get on a horse!” he said.Jennie flashed out of the door.

With an iron grasp Duane held to the rifle-barrel. He had grasped it with his left hand, and he gave such a pull that he swung the crazed woman off the floor. But he could not loose her grip. She was as strong as he.

“Kate! Let go!”

He tried to intimidate her. She did not see his gun thrust in her face, or reason had given way to such an extent to passion that she did not care. She cursed. Her husband had used the same curses, and from her lips they seemed strange, unsexed, more deadly. Like a tigress she fought him; her face no longer resembled a woman’s. The evil of that outlaw life, the wildness and rage, the meaning to kill, was even in such a moment terribly impressed upon Duane.

He heard a cry from outside—a man’s cry, hoarse and alarming.

It made him think of loss of time. This demon of a woman might yet block his plan.

“Let go!” he whispered, and felt his lips stiff. In the grimness of that instant he relaxed his hold on the rifle-barrel.

With sudden, redoubled, irresistible strength she wrenched the rifle down and discharged it. Duane felt a blow—a shock—a burning agony tearing through his breast. Then in a frenzy he jerked so powerfully upon the rifle that he threw the woman against the wall. She fell and seemed stunned.

Duane leaped back, whirled, flew out of the door to the porch. The sharp cracking of a gun halted him. He saw Jennie holding to the bridle of his bay horse. Euchre was astride the other, and he had a Colt leveled, and he was firing down the lane. Then came a single shot, heavier, and Euchre’s ceased. He fell from the horse.

A swift glance back showed to Duane a man coming down the lane. Chess Alloway! His gun was smoking. He broke into a run. Then in an instant he saw Duane, and tried to check his pace as he swung up his arm. But that slight pause was fatal. Duane shot, and Alloway was falling when his gun went off. His bullet whistled close to Duane and thudded into the cabin.

Duane bounded down to the horses. Jennie was trying to hold the plunging bay. Euchre lay flat on his back, dead, a bullet-hole in his shirt, his face set hard, and his hands twisted round gun and bridle.

“Jennie, you’ve nerve, all right!” cried Duane, as he dragged down the horse she was holding. “Up with you now! There! Never mind—long stirrups! Hang on somehow!”

He caught his bridle out of Euchre’s clutching grip and leaped astride. The frightened horses jumped into a run and thundered down the lane into the road. Duane saw men running from cabins. He heard shouts. But there were no shots fired. Jennie seemed able to stay on her horse, but without stirrups she was thrown about so much that Duane rode closer and reached out to grasp her arm.

Thus they rode through the valley to the trail that led up over, the steep and broken Rim Rock. As they began to climb Duane looked back. No pursuers were in sight.

“Jennie, we’re going to get away!” he cried, exultation for her in his voice.

She was gazing horror-stricken at his breast, as in turning to look back he faced her.

“Oh, Duane, your shirt’s all bloody!” she faltered, pointing with trembling fingers.”

As his son, Loren Grey, states in the foreword to Last of the Duanes he regards:

it as Zane Grey’s definitive study, not only of the bloodshed and gun play true of the old West, but also a depiction with great insight of the inner turmoil of a man indirectly made an anti-hero by his actions, one who struggles not only with his own violent nature but with his past in his final hope to achieve redemption as a Texas Ranger.

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The Lone Star Ranger on Gutenberg

Last of the Duanes on Kindle

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Posted by on 2014-07-02 in Books

 

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The Rainbow Trail (Withersteen 2) (unabridged: The Desert Crucible) (1915)

Rainbow Bridge - Surprise Valley - Utah

Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah Surprise Valley

The Argosy May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep 1915
Field & Stream Magazine, 1915
Harper & Brothers, New York, 1915

The Desert Cruicible was originally published in the Argosy magazine and the Field & Stream magazine in 1915. The original novel title was the much edited version The Rainbow Trail, a title that was kept until 2004 when it was restored once again as The Desert Crucible. The Rainbow Trail is set to about 1886 in the Tsegi Canyon in Arizona and the Rainbow Bridge in Utah. (ZGWS)

Before Anglos came to the area in the middle of the 19th century, Rainbow Bridge and Navajo Mountain were claimed by Navajos, San Juan Southern Paiutes, and Hopis as part of their aboriginal homeland. The area was also on the fringe of territory claimed by numerous Native American tribes from southwestern Colorado. But with the Treaty of Bosque Redondo in 1868, the United States government was thrown into the mix of claimants on Rainbow Bridge. The status of the territory surrounding the bridge, an area referred to as the Paiute Strip, was in flux from the moment the Bosque Redondo treaty created the Navajo reservation. Even after the declaration of Rainbow Bridge NM, the status of the surrounding environs was not settled. (Rainbow Bridge)

Credit: Galactic Central

Credit: Galactic Central

The Rainbow Trail/Desert Crucible  is considered a sequel to Riders of the Purple Sage. One of the main differences between the The Rainbow Trail and The Desert Crucible lies in the changing laws of the times. At that point polygamy was outlawed by the US Government. Therefore, the fact that Fay Larkin was forced into a sealed marriage as a plural wife to a Mormon man was downplayed in The Rainbow Trail. Zane Grey was vehement in his criticism of the Mormons who kidnapped gentile girls, then forced them into marriage and basically raped them. I agree completely with him and his criticism.

What he shows us is the way it was for a great deal of polygamist women of the time (The 19th Wife). Shepperd gets a job delivering goods to a village of about 50 women, all said to be sealed wives of mormon men. Due to the outlawing of the practice of polygamy the Mormon men felt the need to hide the reality of their marriages. Finding out about this village could turn out to be a dangerous thing for Shepperd. As it turns out later in The Rainbow Trail the Mormon leaders were correct in worrying about the safety of their secret villages. With the law in hand, the US authorities set out to put an end to what they saw as an evil practice. In fact some of the younger generations of Mormons were also beginning to see the practice of polygamy as evil.

Through the character of Mary we are shown what happens when the Stockholm Syndrome begins to hit. This is a period of time in Mormon history that Mormons have an obligation to be ashamed of. As a formed Mormon myself, I do indeed feel some of that shame and even greater shame in later attempts of hiding what was done to these young girls.

The Rainbow Bridge becomes a character in Zane Grey’s story due to its story and beauty. If not for being declared a national monument by Thomas Roosevelt in 1910, this natural wonder would have become immersed in the waters of another dam project. According to Lorne Grey, the character of Nas-Ta-Bega was based on the Acute guide that took Zane Grey to the bridge in 1910. (Foreword to Desert Crucible)

Mormons baptising indians

A baptism of North American Indians – Mormons posing as the apostles of Christianity, 1882. Credit: Library of Congress

 

When it comes to the treatment of Native Americans the Mormons were like any other missionary belief. They wanted to convince the Native Americans that what they believed was wrong and that the Mormon belief was correct. The discrimination was the same. The settlers accepted indian aid when that was needed and persecuted the Native Americans when the Mormons wanted what the Native Americans had – including their women and children. So, no difference.

The blurb on The Rainbow Trail reads:

Originally published in 1915, The Rainbow Trail is the sequel to Riders of the Purple Sage (also a Bison Book). At the end of that famous novel, a huge boulder had rolled down to shut off the entrance to Surprise Valley, leaving Lassiter, Jane Withersteen, and little Fay Larkin to a singular fate. Twenty years later a lanky Illinois preacher named John Shefford, disillusioned with the narrow-mindedness of his congregation, appears in Arizona. At a “sealed-wife” village, where Mormons hide the practice of polygamy from the federal government, he picks up the trail of the grown-up Fay. Thus begins an exciting story of captivity, treachery, and last-minute escape.

The blurb on The Desert Crucible reads:

The collapse of one of the stone walls of Surprise Valley, which has imprisoned gunman Lassiter, Jane Withersteen, and young Fay Larkin for ten years, results in their capture by a hooded Mormon. Then Lassiter and Jane are offered a deal: their lives in exchange for the immediate marriage of Fay Larkin to the mysterious, cruel, Mormon leader. This unforgettable story can at last be read just as Zane Grey wrote it, without the editorial cuts made to the original publication.

 Outlet_of_Surprize_sic_Valley_Colorado_RiverJim Shefford, Jane Withersteen, Ventner, Lassiter and Fay Larkin once again become the characters we get to meet most often. There is plenty of action and many descriptions of nature in either version. If I was going to purchase/get hold of this novel now, I would go for The Desert Crucible – the one that the publishers considered too controversial for its times.

“What’ll they do to Ruth?” demanded Shefford. “We can’t accept her sacrifice if she’s to suffer—or be punished.”

“Reckon Ruth has a strong hunch that she can get away with it. Did you notice how strange she said that? Well, they can’t do much to her. The bishop may damn her soul. But—Ruth—”

Here Lake hesitated and broke off. Not improbably he had meant to say that of all the Mormon women in the valley Ruth was the least likely to suffer from punishment inflicted upon her soul.

“Anyway, it’s our only chance,” went on Joe, “unless we kill a couple of men. Ruth will gladly take what comes to help you.”

“All right; I consent,” replied Shefford, with emotion. “And now after she comes out—the supposed Ruth—what then?”

“You can be natural-like. Go with her back to Ruth’s cabin. Then stroll off into the cedars. Then climb the west wall. Meanwhile Nas Ta Bega will ride off with a pack of grub and Nack-yal and several other mustangs. He’ll wait for you or you’ll wait for him, as the case may be, at some appointed place. When you’re gone I’ll jump my horse and hit the trail for Kayenta and the San Juan.”

“Very well; that’s settled,” said Shefford, soberly. “I’ll go at once to see Ruth. You and Nas Ta Bega decide on where I’m to meet him.”

“Reckon you’d do just as well to walk round and come up to Ruth’s from the other side—instead of going through the village,” suggested Joe.

Shefford approached Ruth’s cabin in a roundabout way; nevertheless, she saw him coming before he got there and, opening the door, stood pale, composed, and quietly bade him enter. Briefly, in low and earnest voice, Shefford acquainted her with the plan.

“You love her so much,” she said, wistfully, wonderingly.

“Indeed I do. Is it too much to ask of you to do this thing?” he asked.

“Do it?” she queried, with a flash of spirit. “Of course I’ll do it.”

“Ruth, I can’t thank you. I can’t. I’ve only a faint idea what you’re risking. That distresses me. I’m afraid of what may happen to you.”

She gave him another of the strange glances. “I don’t risk so much as you think,” she said, significantly.

“Why?”

She came close to him, and her hands clasped his arms and she looked up at him, her eyes darkening and her face growing paler. “Will you swear to keep my secret?” she asked, very low.

“Yes, I swear.”

“I was one of Waggoner’s sealed wives!”

“God Almighty!” broke out Shefford, utterly overwhelmed.

“Yes. That’s why I say I don’t risk so much. I will make up a story to tell the bishop and everybody. I’ll tell that Waggoner was jealous, that he was brutal to Mary, that I believed she was goaded to her mad deed, that I thought she ought to be free. They’ll be terrible. But what can they do to me? My husband is dead… and if I have to go to hell to keep from marrying another married Mormon, I’ll go!”

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The Rainbow Trail on Gutenberg

The Desert Crucible on Kindle

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Making It Work: Monument Development, 1910-1955

The 19th Wife

 
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Posted by on 2014-07-01 in Books

 

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The Border Legion (unabridged Cabin Gulch) (1916)

Henry Plummer as depicted by James

Henry Plummer as depicted by James

All-Story Weekly>, January 15, 1916 ff.
The Country Gentleman, April 8, 1916 ff.
Harper & Brothers, New York, 1916
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, March 1948 (RGL)
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Mar 1949, Apr 1956, May 1960 (Galactic Central)

One of the reasons Cabin Gulch was changed was for what the editors felt was excessive swearing and violence. Zane Grey was trying to be historically accurate in his portrayal of Jack Kells, the outlaw leader. But that did not matter to his editor. In a much edited version the new title was The Border Legion and it was first published as a serial in All-Story Weekly in 1916. (Friesen) I read The Border Legion but would recommend that you get Cabin Gulch instead simply because it will give you the full feel of what Zane Grey tried to convey with his story.

The Border Legion - Zane Greys Western Magazine

Credit: Galactic Central

Zane Grey has decided to move a bit further west this time. According to ZGWS we now find ourselves around the year 1863 in the gold mining camps along Alder Gulch in Montana and around the town of Hartley in Montana.

As he often did, Zane Grey found his inspiration from real life. This time the story of Henry Plummer had caught Mr. Grey’s interest. Henry Plummer was elected as sheriff of Bannack, Montana in 1863. His background had been memorable to say the least. Criminal and law-enforcer at the same time was the life he was leading as it neared its end. (This day in history)

Blurb from The Border Legion:

Jim Cleve has been deemed, “a good guy” all of his life and it agitates him to no end. Even his girlfriend, Joan Randle has scorned him for this “weakness” shouting, “You haven’t it in you even to be BAD!” Dejected and hurt, Jim abandons the life he has known for the gold mining camps along Alder Gulch in southern Montana. It is here, among the thieves and murderers, that he must make a new name for himself

Blurb from Cabin Gulch:

This wonderful, dramatic story was written in 1915, but for ninety years it has only existed in a profoundly censored version, “The Border Legion.” Joan Randle, in a spirit of anger, sends Jim Cleve out into the lawless country of the mining frontier in Idaho Territory to test his mettle as a man. Then, regretting their quarrel, she goes in pursuit of him, in hope of turning him back, only to be taken captive by the notorious mining camp and stagecoach bandit, Jack Kells. Kells is so intent on having Joan to himself that he kills for it, even some of his own men. When a huge gold strike is made at Alder Creek, Kells and his gang move in to loot the miners. Most disheartening of all for Joan is the fact that Jim Cleve has joined Kells’s gang. This powerful tale of tragedy, romance, historical realism, and hope can now at last be read as Zane Grey wrote it.

The Border Legion - All-Story Weekly

Credit: Galactic Central

In the case of The Border Legion, Sam Gulden is the baddest of the bad. Gulden is also the sort of man that keeps young girls naked and tied up. Jack Kells is the other force of evil in The Border Legion. He is our Henry Plummer whose charm hid what he was capable of doing. The lovers of this story are Joan Randle and Jim Cleve. Their way to that part in the other person’s life is filled with pot-holes (of which Kells is one).

Well and truly caught by Kells’ gang (the Border Legion), Joan is drawn into the clutches of Kells through his charm. I think it would probably be safe to say that Kells was a psychopath. He wanted Joan. He would do anything it took to make her his. One of his tools was allowing her to fall for his “sweet” side before he showed her his rough one. That way he could keep her needing to “save” him from himself making up excuses for the other part of him that she saw. Falling for her kidnapper probably makes Joan another victim of what today is called the Stockholm Syndrome.

All this time Jim tries to be there for Joan, but he too is caught in Kells’s clutches. His role in the life of Kells is as another member of Kells’ gang. As is so often true in real life, men and women seem more attracted to baddies – at least charming baddies.

Zane Grey isn’t the best writer of romantic dialogue and action. I wonder if his own access to a great deal of women had something to do with his lack of understanding of the workings of romance. I know that my own autism stands in the way of my understanding of the concept.

Alder Creek, 2000;  by Stephen McMillan

Alder Creek, 2000;
by Stephen McMillan

While romance/action is a large part of the story of The Border Legion/Cabin Gulch we also get to enjoy Zane Grey’s forte in writing. His portrayal of nature is amazing and I wish there was more of that and less of the romantic dialogue.

Manifestly Jesse Smith had selected the spot for Kells’s permanent location at Alder Creek with an eye for the bandit’s peculiar needs. It was out of sight of town, yet within a hundred rods of the nearest huts, and closer than that to a sawmill. It could be approached by a shallow ravine that wound away toward the creek. It was backed up against a rugged bluff in which there was a narrow gorge, choked with pieces of weathered cliff; and no doubt the bandits could go and come in that direction. There was a spring near at hand and a grove of spruce-trees. The ground was rocky, and apparently unfit for the digging of gold.

While Bate Wood began preparations for supper, and Cleve built the fire, and Smith looked after the horses, Kells and Pearce stepped off the ground where the cabin was to be erected. They selected a level bench down upon which a huge cracked rock, as large as a house, had rolled. The cabin was to be backed up against this stone, and in the rear, under cover of it, a secret exit could be made and hidden. The bandit wanted two holes to his burrow.

When the group sat down to the meal the gulch was full of sunset colors. And, strangely, they were all some shade of gold. Beautiful golden veils, misty, ethereal, shone in rays across the gulch from the broken ramparts; and they seemed so brilliant, so rich, prophetic of the treasures of the hills. But that golden sunset changed. The sun went down red, leaving a sinister shadow over the gulch, growing darker and darker. Joan saw Cleve thoughtfully watching this transformation, and she wondered if he had caught the subtle mood of nature. For whatever had been the hope and brightness, the golden glory of this new Eldorado, this sudden uprising Alder Creek with its horde of brave and toiling miners, the truth was that Jack Kells and Gulden had ridden into the camp and the sun had gone down red. Joan knew that great mining-camps were always happy, rich, free, lucky, honest places till the fame of gold brought evil men. And she had not the slightest doubt that the sun of Alder Creek’s brief and glad day had set forever.

Once the Border Legion gets to Alder Creek, the play for power begins between Kells and Gulden. Keeping the Border Legion loyal to their leader is going to be quite a challenge considering all of the temptations in the area. Gold-mining towns were usually tent towns and only an ingrained sense of another man’s territory kept others out of your tent. For outlaws like the Border Legion, such considerations were non-existent. Perhaps promises made to one’s own boss would take on the same value in such a place. Greed is, after all, such a wonderful breaker of loyalty.

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The Border Legion on Gutenberg

Cabin Gulch on Kindle

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Henry Plummer is elected sheriff of Bannack, Montana

Stockholm syndrome

 
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Posted by on 2014-06-30 in Books

 

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Wildfire (1916)

Wild Hoofbeats

Wild Hoofbeats: America’s Vanishing Wild Horses
by Carol J. Walker
Credit: Carol J. Walker

Serialized in The Country Gentleman, April 8, 1916 ff.
First book edition published by Harper & Brothers, New York, 1916
Featured in Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, May 1949

My favorite animal on the earth is not humans but horses. Especially the wild ones. I wouldn’t like a stallion attacking me, but its beauty and grace of movement is undeniable. In this Zane Grey novel we get to meet the Mustang Wildfire.

Wildfire - The Country GentlemanLin Slone, one of our main characters, is a horse wrangler. In the 1870’s a horse wrangler was the person that managed the spare horses on cattle drives. The wrangler kept the horses happy and was also the one who knew how to train a newly caught horse (unless he was fresh to the game). Lin Slone is an experienced wrangler who prefers the company of horses and the solitude of nature to the company of people. He is, of course, going to be the man who ends up capturing Wildfire but that capture costs both man and horse a great deal.

Slone was packed and saddled and on his way before the sun reddened the canyon wall. He walked the horses. From time to time he saw signs of Wildfire’s consistent progress. The canyon narrowed and the walls grew lower and the grass increased. There was a decided ascent all the time. Slone could find no evidence that the canyon had ever been traveled by hunters or Indians. The day was pleasant and warm and still. Every once in a while a little breath of wind would bring a fragrance of cedar and pinyon, and a sweet hint of pine and sage. At every turn he looked ahead, expecting to see the green of pine and the gray of sage. Toward the middle of the afternoon, coming to a place where Wildfire had taken to a trot, he put Nagger to that gait, and by sundown had worked up to where the canyon was only a shallow ravine. And finally it turned once more, to lose itself in a level where straggling pines stood high above the cedars, and great, dark-green silver spruces stood above the pines. And here were patches of sage, fresh and pungent, and long reaches of bleached grass. It was the edge of a forest. Wildfire’s trail went on. Slone came at length to a group of pines, and here he found the remains of a camp-fire, and some flint arrow-heads. Indians had been in there, probably having come from the opposite direction to Slone’s. This encouraged him, for where Indians could hunt so could he. Soon he was entering a forest where cedars and pinyons and pines began to grow thickly. Presently he came upon a faintly defined trail, just a dim, dark line even to an experienced eye. But it was a trail, and Wildfire had taken it.

Slone halted for the night. The air was cold. And the dampness of it gave him an idea there were snow-banks somewhere not far distant. The dew was already heavy on the grass. He hobbled the horses and put a bell on Nagger. A bell might frighten lions that had never heard one. Then he built a fire and cooked his meal.

It had been long since he had camped high up among the pines. The sough of the wind pleased him, like music. There had begun to be prospects of pleasant experience along with the toil of chasing Wildfire. He was entering new and strange and beautiful country. How far might the chase take him? He did not care. He was not sleepy, but even if he had been it developed that he must wait till the coyotes ceased their barking round his camp-fire. They came so close that he saw their gray shadows in the gloom. But presently they wearied of yelping at him and went away. After that the silence, broken only by the wind as it roared and lulled, seemed beautiful to Slone. He lost completely that sense of vague regret which had remained with him, and he forgot the Stewarts. And suddenly he felt absolutely free, alone, with nothing behind to remember, with wild, thrilling, nameless life before him. Just then the long mourn of a timber wolf wailed in with the wind. Seldom had he heard the cry of one of those night wanderers. There was nothing like it—no sound like it to fix in the lone camper’s heart the great solitude and the wild.

Wildfire - Zane Greys Western MagazineLucy Bostil is our female main character. She has just turned 18 (Zane Grey generally liked them young, both in real life and in his novels) and is excited about finally being considered an adult. Her father is horse crazy.

Bostil owns quite a few horses but is always on the look-out for that “one, perfect” wild stallion. I guess you could say that he is one of the bad guys because he is willing to go to any lengths to get one. All of Grey’s story try to impart the “Code of the West” on to his reader. One of those codes is “If it’s not your, don’t take it”. Losing his best friend is worth it just so he might retain the status of having the best mustangs.

In my mind I see Bostil as any other addict. He is so caught in the grip of his addiction that he will sacrifice family, friends and reputation to get the drug of his choice. Addiction is very much a mental disease and one from which recovery is extremely difficult.

Once he has taken care of the competition, Bostil is the one in the county with the finest horse, Sage King. Now others covet what he has. Cordt, the horse thief, wants Bostil’s stallion and he will also do anything to achieve his goal.

Because I happen to be on the side of horses rather than that of people, I am going to say that all the men of this story were greedy bastards who took what they wanted no matter the price the object of their desires had to pay.

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Wildfire on Free Read Australia

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Translations:

  • Finnish: Tuliharja; Engström, Don; Helsinki: Taikajousi, 1980.
  • German: Wildfeuer; Werner, Hansheinz; München, AWA Verlag, 1953
  • Hungarian: Futótűz; Lendvai, István; Budapest: Nyiry Z., 1995.
  • Italiano: Wildfire; Pitta, Alfredo; I Nuovi Sonzogno, 1966 (Copertina: Guido Crepax)
  • Norwegian: Hestekongens datter; Gundersen, Rolf / Oslo: Fredhøi, 1917. (Gratis tilgang Nasjonalbibilioteket for norske IP-adresser)
  • Polish: Płomień; Sujkowska, Janina; Warzawa: M. Arcta, 1936
  • Portugese: Fogo selvagem; Passos, Maria Margarida & Sousa, Homem de; Lisboa, Agencia Portuguese de Revistas, 1957.
  • Serbo-Croatian: Grey, Zen; Divlji plamen; Škunca, Stanko; Rijeka, Otokar Keršovani, 1961
  • Slovenian: Wildfire; Klinar, Stanko; Ljubljana, Državna založba Slovenije, 1962.
  • Spanish: Huracán; Fernández, José; Barcelona, Juventud, 1933

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Posted by on 2014-06-29 in Books

 

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The (Roaring) U.P. Trail (1918)

Engraving by Vaningen Snyder

Indians viewing the Pacific Railroad (id: 807135) Engraving by Van Ingen & Snyder, 1871

Titled “The Roaring U.P. Trail” in Blue Book Serial beginning June 1917
Harper & Brothers, New York, 1918
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, 12th February 1949

Reading Zane Grey as an adult has been an eye-opening and painful affair. So many of his stories leave me wanting to weep at the group nature of humanity. Looking around I cannot see that much has changed. The issues Zane Grey wrote about and the issues of authors before his time repeat themselves again, and again, and again. We reveal our omnivorous side in our travels through history by devouring anything and anyone in our way.

Bringing the steam train into the West brought many changes to the lives of the people living along the proposed tracks. Some of those changes were devastating – decimating towns and Native American lands. Some of the changes to the landscape itself were huge having to take into account varying climates and terrain. The toll on the lives of the laborers themselves was large and their salaries laughable. (Wikipedia) But there were people who benefited a great deal from the project and it was an immense engineering feat.

While the Pawnee helped the railroad along its way, the Sioux opposed it vehemently. In fact the Sioux opposed the westward expansion of the Anglos a great deal. Understandably, they saw the building of the Union Pacific Railroad as a breach of the terms of the treaties they had made.

By A. Farrington Elwell

By A. Farrington Elwell

Right before being made an orphan by the Sioux, Allie discovers that the name of her real father is Allison Lee. Allie is the female role of The U.P. Trail. Our male lead is Warren Neale, surveyor. The surveyors and engineers were the first people to map out the trail. His boss is General Lodge (chief engineer). In real life the chief engineer was General Dodge. Neale is with the soldiers when they discover young Allie among all of the corpses of her group. Allie is 15 years old while Warren is 23 years old at this point of the story. For a Zane Grey story this is a pretty OK age difference between his lovers. In fact, it is just a year more than the one between myself and my husband. At fifteen a 23 year old would have seemed OLD to me. Perhaps cool and a person to look up to, but not really boyfriend material. Just a few years later that had changed. So it was between Allie and Warren. Allie had to fight her way through her grief and find new meaning in her life first.

Building the U.P. Railroad was a project that lasted from 1864-1869. For some strange reason I find that too short a time frame considering some of the terrain it ran through and some of the opposition the project met. The railway was run from from Omaha to Promontory Point through Laramie Mountains in Wyoming.

building of up railroad meet in Utah

Photograph of Golden Spike Ceremony at Promontory, Utah, 05/10/1869; completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad. At center left, Samuel S. Montague, Central Pacific Railroad, shakes hands with Grenville M. Dodge, Union Pacific Railroad (center right)
Credit: Andrew J. Russell / National Archives

One of the biggest crooks during the building of the United Pacific Railroad was not one of the outlaws but a businessman called Durant. Grenville Dodge and his assistant Peter Dey surveyed and recommended a route the railroad could take. The government set rules for shares that could be owned by the builders of this project. Thomas S. Durant and his company managed, through nefarious deeds, to appropriate most of the shares and swindled the government for millions of dollars. (The Pacific Railway) In the U.P. Trail, one of the corrupted commissioners is Allie’s father, Allison Lee. Funnily enough, Allie’s adoptive father and later kidnapper is named Durande by Zane Grey. This is just one of the many ways that Zane Grey uses to draw real life into his novels or maybe his novels into real life.

Many of Grey’s tales are incredibly sad. The U.P. Trail is no exception to that. Toward the very end of the novel the below passage illustrates the excellence of some of his writing. A lonely passage indeed.

The wind blew steadily in from the desert seeping the sand in low, thin sheets. Afternoon waned, the sun sank, twilight crept over the barren waste. There were no sounds but the seep of sand, the moan of wind, the mourn of wolf. Loneliness came with the night that mantled Beauty Stanton’s grave. Shadows trooped in from the desert and the darkness grew black. On that slope the wind always blew, and always the sand seeped, dusting over everything, imperceptibly changing the surface of the earth. The desert was still at work. Nature was no respecter of graves. Life was nothing. Radiant, cold stars blinked pitilessly out of the vast blue-black vault of heaven. But there hovered a spirit beside this woman’s last resting-place—a spirit like the night, sad, lonely, silent, mystical, immense.

And as it hovered over hers so it hovered over other nameless graves.

In the eternal workshop of nature, the tenants of these unnamed and forgotten graves would mingle dust of good with dust of evil, and by the divinity of death resolve equally into the elements again.

The place that had known Benton knew it no more. Coyotes barked dismally down what had been the famous street of the camp and prowled in and out of the piles of debris and frames of wood. Gone was the low, strange roar that had been neither music nor mirth nor labor. Benton remained only a name.

The sun rose upon a squalid scene—a wide flat area where stakes and floors and frames mingled with all the flotsam and jetsam left by a hurried and profligate populace, moving on to another camp. Daylight found no man there nor any living creature. And all day the wind blew the dust and sheets of sand over the place where had reigned such strife of toil and gold and lust and blood and death. A train passed that day, out of which engineer and fireman gazed with wondering eyes at what had been Benton. Like a mushroom it had arisen, and like a dust-storm on the desert wind it had roared away, bearing its freight of labor, of passion, and of evil. Benton had become a name—a fabulous name.

But nature seemed more merciful than life. For it began to hide what man had left—the scars of habitations where hell had held high carnival. Sunset came, then night and the starlight. The lonely hours were winged, as if in a hurry to resolve back into the elements the flimsy remains of that great camp.

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The U.P. Trail on Gutenberg

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Reviews:

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Films/Movies

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Translations:

  • Norwegian: Spor over prærien; Trans: ; Fredhøis Forlag, 1960
  • 1978: Lännen rautatie (Finnish)
  • Der eiserne Weg (German)
  • Czech: Ocelový oř; Trans: ; Praha : B. Procházka, 1926
    • V Praze, Českomoravské Podniky Tiskařské a Vydavatelské, 1928.
    • Praha, Karel Červenka, 1947
    • Český Těšín, Gabi, 1992
    • Praha, Invence, 1992
    • Praha, Zeras, 1992
    • Trans: Martin Holý; Brno, Návrat, 1998.
    • Trans: Jan Hora; Praha, Sudop, 2014.
  • Spanish: El caballo de hierro; Trans. Eduardo Toda Valcárcel; Barcelona, Juventud, 1931
    • Barcelona : Carroggio, D.L. 1976.
    • Carroggio Biblioteca Digital de Aranjuez 1986

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Sources

 

 
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Posted by on 2014-06-20 in Books

 

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The Desert of Wheat (1918)

lossy-page1-402px-'Patriots_Use_Corn_Meal._It_Cannot_Be_Shipped._It_is_Splendid_Eating._It_is_Cheaper_Than_Wheat_Flour._It_Saves_Wheat...._-_NARA_-_512550.tif

The Country Gentleman, May 4, 1918 ff.
Harper & Brothers, New York, 1919
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, December 1948
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Aug 1950, Oct 1959 (Galactic Central)

During World War I, German saboteurs in the United States used anthrax and glanders to sicken more than 3,500 horses before they were shipped from U.S. ports to the British and French armies. (Biowarfare Against Agriculture)

Produce and live stock that need to be transported into battle-fields are great targets for the enemy. The Germans were no strangers to biowarfare during World War I, so Desert of Wheat was well within the realm of possibility of what might have occurred. Not only that, but Desert of Wheat made a wonderful piece of propaganda for the US and allied side of the war in its depiction of young Dorn going off to fight his German ancestral lands.

The changes brought about by the new century were many. Most of these were of an industrial nature but also included a change in the desire of the working person to be used and abused by their employers. All change has the potential of changing the lives of some into something not quite as exclusive as it used to be and will often be perceived as a threat. As such, Grey’s Desert of Wheat also made for a wonderful work of propaganda.

Zane Grey's Western Magazine; V 2 #10 December 1948

Zane Grey’s Western Magazine;
V 2 #10 December 1948

Through thrills, romance, adventure and nature Zane Grey had the needed tools to get his message across to the reader. Propaganda is a daily factor of our lives. Sometimes it is cleverly hidden and sometimes the messages are fairly clear. Seen as far from the events as 2014 is, I find it fairly simple to realise what Grey is doing with Desert of Wheat. He does it cleverly and it might not have been such a simple matter to become aware of his tactics back in 1919. Hind-sight is, after all, such a wonderful thing.

He went into the big, dimly lighted dining-room. There was a shelf on one side as he went in, and here, with his back turned to the room, he laid the disjointed gun and his hat. Several newspapers lying near attracted his eye. Quickly he slipped them under and around the gun, and then took a seat at the nearest table. A buxom German waitress came for his order. He gave it while he gazed around at his grim-faced old father and the burly Neuman, and his ears throbbed to the beat of his blood. His hand trembled on the table. His thoughts flashed almost too swiftly for comprehension. It took a stern effort to gain self-control.

Evil of some nature was afoot. Neuman’s presence there was a strange, disturbing fact. Kurt had made two guesses, both alarmingly correct. If he had any more illusions or hopes, he dispelled them. His father had been won over by this arch conspirator of the I.W.W. And, despite his father’s close-fistedness where money was concerned, that eighty thousand dollars, or part of it, was in danger.

Kurt wondered how he could get possession of it. If he could he would return it to the bank and wire a warning to the Spokane buyer that the wheat was not safe. He might persuade his father to turn over the amount of the debt to Anderson. While thinking and planning, Kurt kept an eye on his father and rather neglected his supper. Presently, when old Dorn and Neuman rose and left the dining-room, Kurt followed them. His father was whispering to the proprietor over the desk, and at Kurt’s touch he glared his astonishment.

WORLD WAR I: BATTLEFIELD. Gun crew, Regimental HQ Co., 23rd Infantry, 2nd Division, firing a 37mm gun during an advance through Belleau Wood, France, June 1918.

WORLD WAR I: BATTLEFIELD. Gun crew, Regimental HQ Co., 23rd Infantry, 2nd Division, firing a 37mm gun during an advance through Belleau Wood, France, June 1918. Image No. 0004498. Credit: The Granger Collection, NYC

When Kurt arrives at the battlefield he discovers what war is all about and what its ramifications in in his life and in the lives of the other soldiers out fighting each other.


The Desert of Wheat on Gutenberg


Reviews:


Translations:

  • 1965: Vesten i flammer (Norwegian)
 
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Posted by on 2014-06-19 in Books

 

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The Man of the Forest (unabridged: Dorn of the Mountains) (1917)

The Notch of the White Mountains

The Notch of the White Mountains (Crawford Notch), 1839 – National Gallery of Art Artist: Thomas Cole

The Country Gentleman October 20 1917 – January 26 1918
Grosset & Dunlap, 1920
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine June 1949
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) March 1951, December 1957
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (UK) v1 #2 195? (Galactic Central)

My version is the Norwegian translation of The Man of the Forest (To Tapre Piker) – the old version, but not the original as Zane Grey intended it. Even though I have not read it, I  recommend you get the original – Dorn of the Mountains. Dorn of the Mountains appeared first as a 15 episode serial in The Country Gentleman in 1917. The writing that had been added and removed in Man of the Forest was restored to Dorn of the Mountains.

Greed is once again the theme of Zane Grey’s novel. At least I think it is, as it is about one rancher (Beasley) wanting another man’s (Al Auchincloss) ranch and willing to do anything to get it. Romance is, of course, the other theme although some of the romantic attention is extremely unwanted. Unwanted attention comes from Harve Riggs who seems to think that he is God’s gift to Helen.

Helen is the older sister of the two women, Helen and Bo Raynor, coming West to help their dying uncle with his ranch. Auchincloss’ rivals do not want them to appear at the ranch. Snake Anson and his gang are hired by Beasley to kidnap the two girls and hide them. This is the plot the forester Milt overhears.

The Mountain Pass, 1900, by Thomas Hill

The Mountain Pass, 1900, by Thomas Hill

Milt Dale, or Dorn (thorn in German) as he is known as in Dorn of the Mountains, loved the life of a hunter/trapper in the wilds of the White Mountains in Arizona. One need only gaze at the painting by Thomas Cole to understand its appeal. By chance that life brought him into earshot of the kidnapping plans and he runs to the rescue.

Helen caught her breath. She divined that some peril menaced her. She looked steadily, with all a woman’s keenness, into this man’s face. The moment was one of the fateful decisions she knew the West had in store for her. Her future and that of Bo’s were now to be dependent upon her judgments. It was a hard moment and, though she shivered inwardly, she welcomed the initial and inevitable step. This man Dale, by his dress of buckskin, must be either scout or hunter. His size, his action, the tone of his voice had been reassuring. But Helen must decide from what she saw in his face whether or not to trust him. And that face was clear bronze, unlined, unshadowed, like a tranquil mask, clean-cut, strong-jawed, with eyes of wonderful transparent gray.

“Yes, I’ll trust you,” she said. “Get in, and let us hurry. Then you can explain.”

“All ready, Bill. Send ’em along,” called Dale.

He had to stoop to enter the stage, and, once in, he appeared to fill that side upon which he sat. Then the driver cracked his whip; the stage lurched and began to roll; the motley crowd was left behind. Helen awakened to the reality, as she saw Bo staring with big eyes at the hunter, that a stranger adventure than she had ever dreamed of had began with the rattling roll of that old stage-coach.

Dale laid off his sombrero and leaned forward, holding his rifle between his knees. The light shone better upon his features now that he was bareheaded. Helen had never seen a face like that, which at first glance appeared darkly bronzed and hard, and then became clear, cold, aloof, still, intense. She wished she might see a smile upon it. And now that the die was cast she could not tell why she had trusted it. There was singular force in it, but she did not recognize what kind of force. One instant she thought it was stern, and the next that it was sweet, and again that it was neither.

Wolf pack hunting bisonI believe most of the romance novels by Zane Grey were also about greed. Greed can be thought to be our instincts at work in our attempt to pass our genes on to the next generation. Zane Grey did not say that, I did. But it seems as if Zane Grey might not have disagreed too much with me on that matter. The Man of the Forest has a strong message of the importance of our environment like most of his stories. We should not let our instinct for hoarding/survival take control of our duty to conserve the Earth.

“Sometimes two or more wolves will run a deer, an’ while one of them rests the other will drive the deer around to his pardner, who’ll, take up the chase. That way they run the deer down. Cruel it is, but nature, an’ no worse than snow an’ ice that starve deer, or a fox that kills turkey-chicks breakin’ out of the egg, or ravens that pick the eyes out of new-born lambs an’ wait till they die. An’ for that matter, men are crueler than beasts of prey, for men add to nature, an’ have more than instincts.”

But having the ability to reason does not necessarily mean that we will do so. If we all tried to be logical and earth-friendly in our thinking, the world would be a very different place to live today. Probably not better for a Norwegian like myself, but very much better for the folks who live by the Gulf of Mexico, the tar-sands of Canada, the citizens of Iraq, Syria and Sudan, and the people who are slaving away in the diamond mines of South Africa.

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The Man of the Forest on Gutenberg

Dorn of the Mountains (about 50 pages longer)

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Reviews:

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Films/Movies

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Translations:

  • 1922: Metsien mies (Finnish)
  • 1926: To tapre piker (Norwegian)
  • 1930: Der Mann aus dem Walde (German)
  • 1975: Arvet (Swedish)
  • 1976: Einsames Camp (German)
  • 1995: Mannen fra skogene (Norwegian)
 
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Posted by on 2014-06-18 in Books

 

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The Mysterious Rider (1919)

Credit: Daniel McVey

Credit: Daniel McVey

 

The Country Gentleman, June 7 – August 23 1919
Harper & Brothers, New York, November 1920
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, January 1948
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) May 1949, Oct 1960 (Galactic Central)

According to Charles G. Pfeiffer part of The Mysterious Rider is supposed to be based on a true story, but Pfeiffer does not reveal which part.

I understand the desire parents have to see only the good in their children, or to see them as salvageable if their children are flawed. Sometimes these parents are overly optimistic about the potential for reform. Rancher Bill Belllounds is one such parent. Bill’s son Jack is known as a drunkard, gambler, coward and thief. In other words, not a person I would want any of my children to get involved with.

jack belllounds you put the sheriff

“Jack Belllounds!” she cried. “You put the sheriff on that trail!”
From “The Mysterious Rider”

Bill Belllounds himself is a pretty decent guy when he does not have to make decisions regarding Jack.

“Columbine!… So they named me–those miners who found me–a baby–lost in the woods–asleep among the columbines.” She spoke aloud, as if the sound of her voice might convince her.

So much of the mystery of her had been revealed that day by the man she had always called father. Vaguely she had always been conscious of some mystery, something strange about her childhood, some relation never explained.

Poor Columbine. She had been found wandering Middle Park (now Grand County) in Colorado in the late 1800’s (before 1874 when its name was changed to Grand County). Belllounds had taken her in and raised her as his own daughter. Columbine is seen by Bill Belllounds as the salvation for his son Jack. Bill wants her to marry Jack. Columbine had not seen Jack for seven years and had until the day Bill asked her to marry Jack not even known that she was not Bill’s daughter. Asking is to kind a term. Bill said that Columbine was going to marry Jack like it or not.

Gunman's Law by Stewart Wieck

Gunman’s Law by Stewart Wieck

A stranger turns up in town in response to Bill’s offer of employment. We now get to the meet the mysterious rider. Bent Wade is a gun fighter who has obviously won his gun battles thus far. He sees his mission in life to help people. Generally this happens at gun point and usually the baddies are the ones to suffer. This time Wade takes it upon himself to protect Columbine from Jack, and Jack’s mean plans, for a very good reason.

He sighed, and a darker shadow, not from flickering fire, overspread his cadaverous face. Eighteen years ago he had driven the woman he loved away from him, out into the world with her baby girl. Never had he rested beside a camp-fire that that old agony did not recur! Jealous fool! Too late he had discovered his fatal blunder; and then had begun a search over Colorado, ending not a hundred miles across the wild mountains from where he brooded that lonely hour–a search ended by news of the massacre of a wagon-train by Indians.

That was Bent Wade’s secret.

And no earthly sufferings could have been crueler than his agony and remorse, as through the long years he wandered on and on. The very good that he tried to do seemed to foment evil. The wisdom that grew out of his suffering opened pitfalls for his wandering feet. The wildness of men and the passion of women somehow waited with incredible fatality for that hour when chance led him into their lives. He had toiled, he had given, he had fought, he had sacrificed, he had killed, he had endured for the human nature which in his savage youth he had betrayed. Yet out of his supreme and endless striving to undo, to make reparation, to give his life, to find God, had come, it seemed to Wade in his abasement, only a driving torment.

But though his thought and emotion fluctuated, varying, wandering, his memory held a fixed and changeless picture of a woman, fair and sweet, with eyes of nameless blue, and face as white as a flower.

“Baby would have been–let’s see–‘most nineteen years old now–if she’d lived,” he said. “A big girl, I reckon, like her mother…. Strange how, as I grow older, I remember better!”

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The Mysterious Rider on Free Read Australia

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Reviews:

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Films/Movies

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Translations:

  • 1922: Salaperäinen ratsastaja (Finnish)
  • 1969: Den mystiske rytter (Norwegian)
  • 1953: Der geheimnisvolle Reiter (German)

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Grand County, Colorado History

 
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Posted by on 2014-06-17 in Books

 

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To the Last Man: A Story of the Pleasant Valley War (unabridged: Tonto Basin) (1921)

Pleasant valley war

Sheep slaughter during the Pleasant Valley Range War, Arizona, 1880s (print), American School, (19th century) / Private Collection / Peter Newark

The Country Gentleman May 28 – September 10 1921: To the Last Man
Harper & Brothers, New York 1922: To the Last Man (abridged)
Thrilling Ranch Stories, November 1933: To the Last Man
Five Star First Edition Westerns: Tonto Basin 2004 (unabridged)

The Pleasant Valley War (1887) really did happen and was a family feud that got out of hand. Family feuds are frightening things. Time only seems to increase the hatred between the families. Each death and violent action brings families in feud further and further from any kind of solution. In fact, the Pleasant Valley War got so out of hand that it lasted ten years and only one person survived the battles.

The Pleasant Valley War

The Pleasant Valley War

Mr. Grey describes how he went about discovering what he could about the war that happened in the valley at Tonto Basin.

Some years ago Mr. Harry Adams, a cattleman of Vermajo Park, New Mexico, told me he had been in the Tonto Basin of Arizona and thought I might find interesting material there concerning this Pleasant Valley War. His version of the war between cattlemen and sheepmen certainly determined me to look over the ground. My old guide, Al Doyle of Flagstaff, had led me over half of Arizona, but never down into that wonderful wild and rugged basin between the Mogollon Mesa and the Mazatzal Mountains. Doyle had long lived on the frontier and his version of the Pleasant Valley War differed markedly from that of Mr. Adams. I asked other old timers about it, and their remarks further excited my curiosity.

In 1920 I went back with a still larger outfit, equipped to stay as long as I liked. And this time, without my asking it, different natives of the Tonto came to tell me about the Pleasant Valley War. No two of them agreed on anything concerning it, except that only one of the active participants survived the fighting. Whence comes my title, TO THE LAST MAN. Thus I was swamped in a mass of material out of which I could only flounder to my own conclusion. Some of the stories told me are singularly tempting to a novelist. But, though I believe them myself, I cannot risk their improbability to those who have no idea of the wildness of wild men at a wild time. There really was a terrible and bloody feud, perhaps the most deadly and least known in all the annals of the West. I saw the ground, the cabins, the graves, all so darkly suggestive of what must have happened. (Foreword to To the Last Man)

The Pleasant Valley War 2So the story became the story of the two families the Isbels (ranchers) and the Jorths (sheepherders) and the hopeless romance between two of their children. Romance writer is what Grey considered himself. All he did was place the romance in a context he was familiar with. So it was with the story of Ellen Jorth and Jean Isbel. Jean rides into Tonto Basin at the call of his father and discovers that his father is embroiled in a battle with the Jorths. On his way to his father’s cattle ranch, Jean meets up with Ellen. They kiss but Ellen regrets the kiss once she learns where Jean is going.

One of the many questions raised by Tonto Basin and To the Last Man is whether two young people who fall for each other yet belong to feuding families ever have hope of something coming of their feelings. How much does family influence our ability to love the unexpected?

Once you get into the story, it is easy to see that it is not really about whether cattle and sheep go together but more about wanting more than you have. Cattle and sheep can graze the same lands (Targeted Multi-Species Grazing), but when both parties want more land and neither party wants to give an inch, then you have a problem.

Commodore Perry Owens;

Commodore Perry Owens;

The two families shoot at each other, kill each others’ stock and fall for rustlers blaming the other party. Women and children and outsiders suffer the effects of the feud and the only real hope for the future lies with the two who seem attracted to each others. Now the question is whether the fate of the families will be as in the real story of the Pleasant Valley War or if there is a future to be lived.

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To The Last Man on Gutenberg

Tonto Basin on Kindle

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Films/Movies

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Translations:

 

 

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Mississippi Forages

Navajo County Records: Andy Blevins

 
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Posted by on 2014-06-16 in Books

 

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Wanderer of the Wasteland (1920)

Uhebebe Crater, Death Valley, California, USA 2011;  Credit: PurePosePhoto

Uhebebe Crater, Death Valley, California, USA 2011;
Credit: PurePosePhoto

Serialized in McClure’s Magazine, May 1920 ff.
First book edition published by Harper & Brothers, New York, 1922
Featured in Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, January 1949

Frank "Shorty" Harris; In Death Valley with one of his best friends

Frank “Shorty” Harris; In Death Valley with one of his best friends

From what I understand, the desert has a tendency to grow on you. Perhaps even force you to love or hate it. From the character of Dismukes it seems that Death Valley, at least, becomes addictive and will bring you back to it no matter how hard you try to run away. Death Valley, California might be said to be the main character of Zane Grey’s novel Wanderer of the Wasteland.

The story of brother-love and brother-hate is a consistent theme in literature. I doubt the story of Cain and Abel was the first one told. The brothers Adam and Guerd Larey compete and disagree on the matter of the inheritance, love and lawlessness. That fight brings our main character into the land that was Zane Grey’s true love. Although Death Valley in California is a terrible place it also holds incredibly beauty. So does the Chocolate Range of California – at least the ones that could be seen in the 1880’s.  When Adam Larey experiences his first sunrise, he realises what he has missed all these years.

The hour came when an invisible something, like a blight, passed across the heavens, paling the blue, dimming the starlight. The intense purity of the sky sustained a dull change, then darkened. Adam welcomed the first faint gleam of light over the eastern horizon. It brightened. The wan stars faded. The mountains heightened their clearness of silhouette, and along the bold, dark outlines appeared a faint rose colour, herald of the sun. It deepened, it spread as the grey light turned pink and yellow. The shadows lifted from the river valley and it was day again.

Adam is like many of Grey’s protagonists. Stuck in the desert trying to run from himself and his past Adam is forced to grow, learning to draw from new sides of himself.

The days passed, with ruddy sunrises, white, glaring, solemn noons, and golden sunsets. The simplicity and violence of life on the desert passed into Adam’s being. The greatness of stalking game came to him when the Indian chief took him to the heights after bighorn sheep but it was not the hunting and killing of this wariest and finest of wild beasts, wonderful as it was, that constituted for Adam something great. It was the glory of the mountain heights. All his life he had dreamed of high places, those to which he could climb physically and those that he aspired to spiritually. Lost indeed were hopes of the latter, but of the former he had all-satisfying fulfilment. Adam dated his changed soul from the day he first conquered the heights. There, on top of the Chocolate range, his keen sight, guided by the desert eyes of the old Indian, ranged afar over the grey valleys and red ranges to the Rio Colorado, down the dim wandering line of which he gazed, to see at last Picacho, a dark, purple mass above the horizon. From the moment Adam espied this mountain he suffered a return of memory and a sleepless and eternal remorse. The terrible past came back to him: never again, he divined, to fade while life lasted. His repentance, his promise to Dismukes, his vow to himself, began there on the heights with the winds sweet and strong in his face and the dark blue of the sky over his head, and beneath the vast desert, illimitable on all sides, lonely and grand, the abode of silence.

Again, it is important to remember when these novels were written and what the views of the times were. I do not find Grey’s views on women especially flattering, but they and his views of Native American and Mexicans can still be found today in the US and the rest of the world. Despite these prejudices, Grey was proud of his heritage as part Native American and it is one Native American group that teaches Adam what he needs to know to survive in the desert.

Wild burros at Marietta Wild Burro Range

Wild burros at Marietta Wild Burro Range

That Adam feels the need to rescue the ladies he meets from whatever awful fates they endure is understandable seen in that context. In the case of Magdalena he finds himself with quite a task at hand. Neither she nor her husband are the least bit qualified for the life they have chosen, nor do they seem interested in improving their lot. Adam falls for Magdalena, or perhaps it would be more correct to say that he falls for what he imagines she is. And so it is with each woman he falls for. But in spite of partly being a romance, Grey is unkind to Adam’s love life.

This time we do not get to meet the wonderful mustangs Grey usually adds to his stories. Instead we meet some pretty awesome burros. Talk about hardy little animals with wills of their own. I think that is one thing I really like about horses, mules and donkeys – you need to be able to talk to them if you want them to help you out. Otherwise you are going to have a fight on your hands. We get plenty of action and adventure. And sadness. Plenty of lives and dreams are unfulfilled in Wanderer of the Wasteland.

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Wanderer of the Wasteland on Free Read Australia

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Reviews:

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Films/Movies

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Translations:

  • 1929: Erämaan vaeltaja (Finnish)
  • 1968: Ørkenens sønner (Norwegian)
  • 1965: De Vluchteling (Dutch)
  • 1969: Der Wanderer in der Wüste (German) / Im Tal des Todes
  • 1952: Il vagabondo del deserto (Italian)

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Hottest, Driest, Lowest

Mines of Death Valley

 
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Posted by on 2014-06-15 in Books

 

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The Call of the Canyon (1921)

Shell-shocked

“Canadian Observation Post”, Painted in 1919 by Colin Gill
Sir Andrew MacPhail, The Medical Services, 1925: “Shell-shock is a manifestation of childishness and femininity. Against such there is no remedy.”

Ladies’ Home Journal November 1921
Grosset and Dunlap 1924

Glenn Kilbourne had returned from France early that fall, shell-shocked and gassed, and otherwise incapacitated for service in the army—a wreck of his former sterling self and in many unaccountable ways a stranger to her.

ShellShockShell-shock or PTSD as we call it today was something that was not understood after WWI. War is horrific. Any war, at any time, in any place. No exceptions. Soldiers and civilians are affected by the trauma. Not only they but the people around them and the generations after them bear the cost of war. Glenn Kilbourne just happened to be one of these payers.

As with most of the later wars the US has participated in there did not seem to be enough funds to take care of those who had been damaged in service of their country. Glenn’s greatest fear is that in having to fight the long-term effects of his experiences he might not “get over it”.

I wish it were possible for me to make you understand. For a long time I seem to have been frozen within. You know when I came back from France I couldn’t talk. It’s almost as bad as that now. Yet all that I was then seems to have changed again. It is only fair to you to tell you that, as I feel now, I hate the city, I hate people, and particularly I hate that dancing, drinking, lounging set you chase with. I don’t want to come East until I am over that, you know… Suppose I never get over it?

West Fork of Oak Creek, and Schnebly Hill Sandstone from Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness, AZ taken on September 21, 2010;  Credit: Michael D. McCumber

West Fork of Oak Creek, and Schnebly Hill Sandstone from Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness, AZ taken on September 21, 2010; Credit: Michael D. McCumber

And so Carley Burch goes west to Arizona in hopes that perhaps she might help her Glenn “get over it / get well”. Carley and Glenn will find their relationship sorely tested by their own prejudices and expectations and by the intervention of others. Again Zane Grey presents a love story with complications. These complications might be unlikely ones. But romance complications always seem strange to me.

What does happen is a healing of sorts for Glenn. The hard life he now experiences, a very different type of hardship from the one on the front, enables him to breathe psychologically. What Carley has to decide is whether she is able to share in a more back-to-nature type of life. Give up the comforts of her “modern” life to be with the man she thinks she might love. That is a pretty difficult decision to make. Would I do that for my husband? Would he do that for me? What price are we willing to pay for the person we want to spend our lives with? Carley is going to find that out for herself.

We get the traditional love-triangle and sacrifices. Something that I, as an adult, find challenging in reading the romances of Zane Grey is putting aside my own views on society and women. In fact this is one of my greatest challenges in reading modern romances as well. Fortunately, there are many other facets of Zane Grey’s writing that fascinate me.

There is nature, gorgeous nature. I have lived in the Rocky Mountains myself – years and years ago – and still miss them at times. There are cowboys – some of them pretty tricky guys. We also get humour in the form of the “new person in town” sort. There is some moralistic finger-pointing revealing the fears for the future that might have been prevalent in the West back then.

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The Call of the Canyon available on Gutenberg

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Reviews:

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Films/Movies

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Translations:

 

  • 1926: Kanjonin kutsu (Finnish)
  • 1970: Vesten kaller (Norwegian)
  • 1980: Der Ruf des Canyons (German)
  • 2009: Audio reading

 

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Canadian Observation Post

 
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Posted by on 2014-06-14 in Books

 

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The Thundering Herd (Unabridged version: Buffalo Stampede) (1924)

Bison_skull_pile-restored

Photograph from the mid-1870s of a pile of American bison skulls waiting to be ground for fertilizer.

Ladies’ Home Journal, February 1924
Harper and Brothers, 1925 (abridged)
Sure-Fire Screen Stories, February 1934
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine, October 1950
The Thundering Herd is available for free on Project Gutenberg

Once again Zane Grey had turned out to be too controversial in his for his times.

Bison population survey photograph, Wood Buffalo National Park (17 July 1946)

Bison population survey photograph, Wood Buffalo National Park (17 July 1946)

More wild buffalo have been slaughtered in America in the past ten years than at any time in the last century. Capitalizing on the Indian’s complete dependence upon the buffalo, 19th century government leaders launched a campaign to wipe them out, and in so doing, force the Indians into a sedentary lifestyle more in line with the prevailing European notions of private property and “civilization.” Secretary of Interior Columbus Delano made the following remarks in 1873, a year after Yellowstone National Park was established:

“The civilization of the Indian is impossible while the buffalo remains upon the plains. I would not seriously regret the total disappearance of the buffalo from our western prairies, in its effect upon the Indians, regarding it as a means of hastening their sense of dependence upon the products of the soil and their own labors.”
–Annual Report of the Department of the Interior

Illus. in: Harper's Weekly, 1874 Dec. 12, v. 18, no. 937. LC-USZ62-55602; Credit: Library of Congress

Illus. in: Harper’s Weekly, 1874 Dec. 12, v. 18, no. 937. LC-USZ62-55602;
Credit: Library of Congress

The Thundering Herd is about the period of 1874-1877, a time when buffalo were killed without thought of ecosystems. We find ourselves in Texas along the Red River & Pease River headwaters and Llano Estacado (ZGWS). Zane Grey explains his inspiration:

“From Buffalo Jonos I first heard about the millions of buffalo on tho plains in the early days—the vast thundering herds—and the stories’of how they were massacred for their hides and bones. Hides Bold as cheap as twenty-five cents. This slaughter was one ot the bloodiest carnages in the history of tho world, and a terrible blunder. For tho buffalo were superior to cattle, and would have enriched our great West. But they were butchered In a few short years. I determined to write the story ot the vanishing ot the thundering herds, and set about getting my material.” (The Hutchinson News, 4 April 1925, p. 10)

Part of the explanation of the massive slaughter of the buffalo was not only due to the influence of the Department of the Interior, although the mission set by them would lend legitimacy to the fervor or its carrying out. A technical advance in weaponry enabled the exterminators to kill without being spotted beforehand by the buffalo. In addition a new method of tanning was developed. All of a sudden the whole world wanted buffalo hides and they could have them at more affordable prices. Buffalo City came to life. (Native American)

Arapaho camp with buffalo meat drying near Fort Dodge, Kansas, 1870. ARC Identifier 518892; Credit: National Archives

Arapaho camp with buffalo meat drying near Fort Dodge, Kansas, 1870. ARC Identifier 518892;
Credit: National Archives

Once again Zane Grey uses the power of the written word to engage his audience in an important issue of his time. We aren’t just getting a romance when he writes about Tom Doan joining the buffalo hunters going into the Southwest’s inhospitable Staked Plain. Before the decimation of the buffalo herds there were probably somewhere between twenty-five to seventy million individuals (BFC) roaming the prairies. After the settlers were done with them there were probably only about 334 individuals left (FWS).

Slaughter of that magnitude must do something to a person. It certainly does to Tom Doan. He finds himself baptised in blood and gore. I don’t know if the Europeans expected the Native Americans to just sit back and let them go on with their killing. After all, the bison were an integral part of the lifestyles of the plains-indians. So Tom Doan finds himself fighting the Comanches and Kiowas, other white hunters, and himself.

Early on the ninth morning of that long journey Tom and Stronghurl forded the Pease River, at a dangerous crossing, and entered the zone of slaughter. No live buffalo were in sight, but the carcasses left by the advancing hunters polluted the summer air and made of the prairie a hideous shambles. They passed thousands and thousands of bone piles and rotten carcasses; and as they advanced the bone piles became fewer and the solid carcasses more. Coyotes in droves, like wild dogs, fought along the road, regardless of the wagons. Indeed, many of them were so gorged that they could not run. And as for buzzards, they were as thick as crows in a Kansas cornfield in October, likewise gorged to repletion.

The wake of the hide-hunters was something to sicken the heart of the stoutest man and bring him face to face with an awful sacrifice.

Tom verified another thing that had long troubled him and of which he had heard hunters speak. For every single buffalo that was killed and skinned there was one which had been crippled and had escaped to die, so that if ever found its hide would be useless. In every ravine or coulee or wash off the main line of travel Tom knew, by investigation of those near where he and Stronghurl camped or halted at noon, there lay dead and unskinned buffalo. If he saw a hundred, how many thousands must there be? It was a staggering arraignment to confront the hide-hunters.

Toward noon of that day herds of live buffalo came in sight, and thereafter grew and widened and showed movement. Tom eventually overhauled a single wagon drawn by four horses, and drew up beside it, asking the usual query.

The Thundering Herd - Cover

The only thing that stands between Tom and the loss of himself to despair at what his life has turned into is the love of a woman. But none of Zane Grey’s stories provide love-birds with easy resolutions and love-lives. In this case we have a step-father who refuses Milly any contact with other men. Milly slowly begins to understand (partly through contact with Tom) that all is not as it should be with her step-father’s band of non-sanctioned hunters.

Blurb for Buffalo Stampede: On his first trip to the West, Zane Grey became friends with Buffalo Jones, the “last of the plainsmen” as he called him in the book he subsequently wrote about him. Jones had been witness to the great herds of buffalo that had once ranged on the Great Plains, and he had been a participant in the destruction of those herds. In early 1923 Grey decided that he would write the epic story of the thundering herds of buffalo, the great hunt that decimated them, and the battle between the Plains Indians and the buffalo hunters. At last, Zane Grey’s magnificent panorama of the war for the buffalo, and against the buffalo, is being published, just as he wrote it, violent and furious action against a background of elegiac sadness for the passing of those mighty, noble herds, the restoration of a literary masterpiece.


Reviews:


Translations:

  • 1930: Die Donnernde Herde (German)
  • 1952: Bøffelkrigen (Norwegian)
  • 1981: Jylisevät kaviot (Finnish)
  • 1968: La mandria tonante (Italian)
  • 1990: Villdyrjakten (Norwegian)

Films/Movies

Sources

 
3 Comments

Posted by on 2014-06-13 in Books

 

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The Vanishing American / The Vanishing Indian (1925)

Navaho children and baby goats;  Photo from Florence Barker photograph collection

Navaho children and baby goats;
Photo from Florence Barker photograph collection

The Ladies’ Home Journal, January 1922
Grosset and Dunlap, 1925

Zane Grey’s own great-grandmother was a Native American who married his Anglo ancestor.  These two ancestors might have been the inspiration for Nophaie and Marian in The Vanishing American. Yet the ending of the original story and its presentation of missionaries and Federal Indian Agents angered Zane Grey’s readers. For the purpose of saleability Harper Brothers had Zane Grey rewrite the ending and parts of the novel to better fit with the prejudices of 1925. (Great Adaptations).The Vanishing American - Zane Grey - Film

“The publishers delayed the book version because religious groups were offended by its portrayal of missionaries raping indian girls and stealing indian land. Grey was forced to kill his navajo hero rather than have him marry the white heroine and to tone down his indictment of missionaries.” (American Indian Education: A History)

Nophaie starts off this story as a seven year old boy herding his sheep. This was a job he had been doing since he was five. I think we/I often underestimate a child’s ability and desire to help out the family. Yes, they want to play, but as I look back at my own Norwegian history I see that children were valued and needed members of the family. They had what might be deemed hard jobs to do from an early age. Yet the children knew that the jobs they did were necessary and not make-do work.

This is what Nophaie was doing. He was being a valued member of his Navajo tribe, and he knew that as time passed the knowledge he gained would in the end give him the necessary abilities of an adult Navajo man.

But life does seldom goes the way we want it to. Nophaie is kidnapped along with the sheep he was watching. Nophaie is let go by the rustlers close to another Native American encampment. Before he reaches it another group of white people just grab him on the assumption that he must be saved. They take him with them to educate and civilize him – in line with the assimilation project going on at the time.

Eighteen years into the future Nophaie meets Marian Warner at Cape May. Nophaie has become Lo Blandy and a well-known US football player. Once again, life played its games and it drove Nophaie back to the Navajo people and his biological family. Then Marian, who was deeply in love with Lo Blandy, decided to come from Philadelphia to Oljato to be with Nophaie again.

Their ending is the one that had to be removed from the Harper & Brothers 1925 edition after all of the protests from the serial. Another thing Grey had to remove were the depredations of a missionary called Morgan and an Indian agent called Blucher. Both are crooks that either revel in sexual crimes or financial crimes against the natives over which they had power. Morgan and Blucher are, of course, the baddies of the story while Marian and Nophaie are the, for the most part, good ones. And therein lies the conflict that keeps us reading.

Sometimes I wonder if Zane Grey’s romanticizing Native Americans as “people of nature” comes both from a feeling of guilt over what the trespassers had done toward them. But perhaps there is also a sense of superiority that lies behind it – the kind that parents use on their own children when their children have done something “adorable”, or the way a dominant (the one in power) culture limits the minority culture through labeling. Personally I suspect both were a factor, along with the need to make money off his stories.

P.S. I wonder if the title “The Vanishing American” is a poke at Madison Grant’s extremely racist “The Passing of the Great Race“.

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The Vanishing American on Gutenberg

Zane Grey’s Greatest Indian Stories: Nophaie’s Redemption – original ending

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Reviews:

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Films/Movies

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Translations:

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American Indian Education

American Indian Stereotypes in Early Western Literature and the Lasting Influence on American Culture

Great Adaptations

John and Louisa Wetherill (inspiration for Mr. and Mrs. John Withers)

Missionaries and American Indian languages

Struggling with cultural repression

The Myth of Progress

 
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Posted by on 2014-06-12 in Books

 

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