Mike Cox is the author of 15 nonfiction books, the latest of which is Historic Photos of Heroes of the Old West. The source of much of his material can be found in libraries and museums, but it took more than just looking at old photos and drawings to put together this table top book of some 200 photo and drawings.
Cox divides his heroes into five categories:
In addition to setting the stage with five groups of heroes, Cox offers an overview of the four large land deals that shaped the west.
Photographs didn’t find their way into history until the mid 1850s so some of the early heroes can only be found in drawings.
Lewis & Clark, Zebulon Pike, (Pikes Peak, Colorado) and John Fremont, who by the early 1860s had lead five trips west, along with Jediah Smith, are a few those Cox describes as pathfinders.
One of the true pioneers was Brigham Young. Cox found a photograph from 1872 that shows men getting massive granite stones out of a quarry to build the Morman Temple in Salt Lake City. It took 40 years to construct.
Modoc War, Custer, Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson, Sheriff Pat Garrett, who killed Billy the Kid, and Wyatt Earp, are but a few of better known names in the 206 page book.
There is a picture of Charlie Russell, the well known artist, as a young cowboy, Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, the African American Regiment created in 1866, and numerous other photos with just enough bits of history to be interesting, but not too detailed.
The format Cox uses provides brief history of each person or occurrence and how one person or event often leads into another. This is a book for nearly any age because it is does not delve deeply into history, but rather offers highlights and lets you move on to the next page or stage of how the west was won. This makes Historic Photos of Heroes of the Old West a book that you can pick up when you have a few minutes and catch half dozen pages without being caught in a plot or endless details.
It was disappointing to see that the book was printed in China. We know of others that have gone that route because of the cost, but we would like to have seen a book about this country printed in this country. This is a detail that will probably go totally unnoticed by most.
Perhaps a bit of information on some of the lesser known towns would have helped place them. The example that comes to mind is Hillsboro, New Mexico. Google was happy to let us known it was close to Truth or Consequences (in the southern part of the state) and that today it is a very popular art center.
Historic Photos of Heroes of the Old West will make a very good addition to your library or to put on the coffee table for guests to enjoy. It is certainly like a who’s who of the early west. It sells for $39.95 and is available on Amazon and probably at most book major book stores.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent