May 07, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Real Wild West: The 101 Ranch and the Creation of the American West

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Michael Wallis
genre
History
We gave it a B+

In tracing the 19th-century saga of the Miller family’s trek from Kentucky to Oklahoma, Michael Wallis (Route 66: The Mother Road) ends up telling two stories in The Real Wild West — one about Indian Territory and the other about the Miller brothers’ 101 Ranch, a 110,000-acre spread that spawned not only a famous Wild West show but many of the trick riders, ropers, and cowboy stars in Hollywood’s silent-film era. Wallis’ lengthy (632 pages) yet involving account about the fusing of the West of myth and the West of reality makes history buck and snort, and not even such real-life characters as Geronimo and Tom Mix, who share this landscape, match the Millers and their ranch dynasty for frontier grit. If ever there was a miniseries waiting to be made, this is it. B+

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