February 11th, 2020


Book review: Zane Grey's Wild West

Zane Grey's Wild West: A Study of 31 Novels

I teethed on Zane Grey, starting with Betty Zane (abridged version for younger readers). I probably haven't read them all, but most, I think. Anyway, I wanted to read this book as soon as I came across it. I enjoyed reading about each of the 31 novels, remembering favorite characters and stories. And horses often played an important role in these stories. There is a lot of history in many of these books, including the buffalo herds, the building of the railroads, the telegraph system, the gold rush, pioneering, Mormons, the clashes with Indian tribes as they were pushed off their lands and their children forcibly enrolled in the white man's schools, etc. I remember reading The Vanishing American and being annoyed that the hero, an Indian, was killed off at the end, even though I was halfway expecting it--being aware of the prejudice back in the day. However, I learned that the published version was not what was originally written. "... public furor dictated that Harper & Brothers demand that he make changes before they published it 1925. Nophaie could not marry ... a white woman at the end of the book." So he was killed... The original manuscript, in which he survives with a happier ending, was published in 1982 (fifty-seven years later). Fascinating book with its history and beautiful descriptions of the landscape and nature--and comparisons with Thoreau, Wordsworth, and other authors. Highly recommended.