What They Didn't Teach You about the Wild West

What They Didn't Teach You about the Wild West

What They Didn't Teach You about the Wild West

What They Didn't Teach You about the Wild West


Mike Wright exposes the hidden events of the growth and development of the Wild West. His unique approach to research has brought to life a wealth of bizarre and curious facts.


West is both a location and a state of mind, and I often use this word to express both. There is no one Indian nation. Some historians have tried to count the number, and some may have been correct in listing the various tribes. Three hundred? Five hundred? And that's just in North America. Certainly, there is no single "Indian language." Native Americans are many people with many languages, most as different as, say, Spaniards from Scots. Or, the Scots from the Irish; now, there are two peoples who frequently don't get along but should.

As with others in this What They Didn Teach You series, this is not meant to be a complete, definitive history of the West. Let's face it: No one will ever write a definitive history of the American West. Rather, this is intended to whet your appetite, if you will, for further research on your own.

The American West is perhaps the second most written about subject in American history -- only the Civil War has more books and articles about it. The exploration and exploitation of that area generally west of the Mississippi truly makes for great human history. Often, however, authors try too hard, and thus insert themselves between the story and the reader. Sometimes historians forget that they are not doers but merely the recorders of great events. Usually it is best to let the story tell itself, and that is what I have tried to do in this and other books in this series. As historian David McCullough once said in a television interview, "There's no need to gussy it all up."

I try to keep in mind the perhaps apocryphal story of a young newspaper reporter sent to cover the 1889 Johnstown, Pennsylvania, flood. The flood was one of the worst tragedies in Ameicican history. An estimated five thousand people died and property damage totaled a figure nearly astronomical for the time, ten million dollars.

The story goes that when news of the flood first breaks, the only available reporter left to a major New York newspaper is an eager but inexperienced young man, a cub reporter -- the term was then. Be-

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