5 Must-Read Books About the Wild West

Photo Credit: cgbaldauf (iStock)

Looking to expand your knowledge of American western history? From legendary pioneer women on the frontier to the adventures of history’s most iconic leaders, these titles will take you on a journey back to the Wild West. Here are 5 must-read books for every history buff interested in exploring the untold truths about the Wild, Wild West.

1. Out Where the West Begins: Profiles, Visions, and Strategies of Early Western Business Leaders

By: Philip F. Anschutz

Out Where the West Begins is an extraordinary book profiling 50 of the most influential business leaders who have who made their marks on what we now know as the American West. Bringing history to life, this book is backed by a collection of photographs and a historical timeline of incredibly significant events that strongly influenced the development of America’s western frontier.

Become immersed in true historical legends, from the tale of industrial cowboy Henry Miller to that of aspiring entrepreneur Frederick Henry Harvey to the story of American civil engineer William Jackson Palmer. This book takes a unique approach in recognizing the valuable contributions made by the innovative creators and aspiring leaders of the American West between 1800 and 1920.

For those who are interested in the history of the American Wild West, the intriguing details of Out Where The West Begins makes it difficult to put this book down once you pick it up. To continue reading about the influential men and women and the remarkable events that built America’s western frontier, check out Volume 2 , Out Where The West Begins: Creating and Civilizing The American West.

2. Tomboy Bride: A Woman’s Personal Account of Life in Mining Camps of the West

By: Harriet Fish Backus.

Discover how the mining industry forever shaped the wild west through the eyes of a courageous pioneer woman, Harriet Backus. Shortly after leaving her parent’s home in San Francisco, Harriet embarked on a journey with her husband, George Backus, to the silver mining town of Tomboy in Telluride, Colorado. Despite all the hardships faced living in the mountains at 11,000 feet above sea level and traveling across various mining towns including Telluride and Leadville, Harriet never lost sight of her amazing, frontier spirit.

Tomboy Bride stands out as it’s truly a fascinating account of history about what life was really like in the mining camps across the west in the early 20th century.

3. Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West

By: Hampton Sides

The history of the West unfolds in the remarkable story of Kit Carson’s heroic and adventurous life. Take a look inside the Western expansion and its impact on Native American culture from both sides. Blood and Thunder showcases a balanced perspective inside the vivid details of American westward expansion from all sides of the story, including American settlers, Mexican residents, and several Indian tribes including the Navajo.

An eye-opening, must-read book for those interested in uncovering the truth on how the West was really conquered, Blood and Thunder is a can’t-miss.

4. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

By: Dee Brown

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is sure to help you develop a deeper appreciation for Native American culture. This astounding book is filled with rare historical facts and informative stories about the wars, conflicts, and massacres Native American tribes endured in the late 19th century. While heartbreaking facets of Native American history are exposed in this text, the fight and perseverance to survive is truly inspiring.

An outstanding narrative of American West history told in the Native American perspective.

5. We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher

By: E. C. Abbott, Helena Huntington Smith, and Nick Eggenhofer

No observation of the Wild West is complete without Native Americans, gunslingers, lawmen, and of course, the famous cowboy.

In We Pointed Them North you will experience the Wild West through the life of a real western cowboy. As you’ll discover, being a cowboy in this rough and rugged era wasn’t for the faint of the heart. E.C Abbott, also known as “Teddy Blue” shares the grueling truths of everyday life as a wild cowboy herding cattle on a wild frontier.

Beautifully written, this book takes you on a real journey back in time to the rich and exhilarating history of the Wild, Wild West.



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