Book Review: True Tales of the Wild West

Reading Level

Ages 4-8

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This fun book from National Geographic takes 10 stories from the Wild West and puts some truth to them. In True Tales of the Wild West, author Paul Robert Walker (himself the author of many other fine books for readers of all ages) takes the myth out of the story and gives you an entertaining narrative anyway. These true stories are full of exciting details anyway, and Walked presents them in an easy-to-read fashion, complete with maps, quotes, period illustrations, and (my favorite part of the book) Historical Notes, which follow each narrative and fill in the rest of the story--what an excellent way to present the material!

Included are standard Westward Movement and History of the West fare, like the California Gold Rush, Lewis & Clark, the Pony Express, the Showdown at O.K. Corral, and even the Klondike Gold Rush. But Walker also includes some other stories that are just as compelling but aren't usually talked about in the same breath as the others. Among these are the story of Jedediah Smith, the man who walked across the great Western Desert in search of a fabled river that didn't exist, and the story of The Grattan Fight, a bloody episode involving Native Americans and American soldiers that set off the series of battles that Americans are more familiar with, such as the Battle of Little Bighorn (also included in this book, by the way).

Reading this book will give you an excellent introduction to these topics if you have only heard of them in passing. And as for the more familiar subjects, well, you get the facts, not the fiction. If you think you know what really happened at O.K. Corral, read this book and find out if you're right. As the author proves time and again in this book, the facts in some cases are stranger than the legends that surround them. 

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