From Davy Crockett, Wild Bill Hickok, and Calamity Jane to Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, and Frank and Jesse James, here are more than 130 colorful stories of the pioneers, cowboys, outlaws, gamblers, prospectors, and lawmen who settled the wild west, creating a uniquely American hero and an enduringly fascinating folk mythology.
In this wonderfully boisterous treasury of tall tales, everyone and everything is larger than life and bragging is elevated into an art form. Many of these stories are of real people and real events; more than a few, however, grew taller and funnier as they made their rounds from wagon train to campfire to rodeo to miners' quarters. But even if it is far from established that Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett were able to kill three men with one bullet or subdue ferocious grizzly bears with their fists, they come vividly to life here as beloved characters who have become part of the fabric of the American imagination.
Originally published as Tales from the American Frontier in 1991, this collection of the Wild West's equivalent of "urban legends" is a hoot and a holler. Laugh at the tale of "The Young Man Who Wanted to Be Snakebit" (for a shot of whiskey was the local snakebite antidote), shudder at the mention of "The Headless Horseman of the Mother Lode," and marvel at the "hoop snake," a 6-foot-long wonder that can bite its own tail and roll after its prey--although a 15-foot catfish can swallow it whole. These tall tales are rather boisterous and do not always treat the West's Native American and Latino inhabitants with sensitivity--which means, of course, that they accurately capture the spirit of the era.