When people think of the narrative of the Western United States, the image contrived in their imaginations usually derives from the written and filmed works of people that were outsiders.
“This is what I find so fascinating about our history as a region,” Russell Rowland said. “Many of the stories that have formed people’s image of the West were written by people who either never lived here, or people who came here much like [Owen] Wister [author of the bestselling “The Virginian” western book] did, with no real experience of what it really means to live in a world where everyday survival is a constant struggle.”
Rowland, a local novelist, has also co-edited with Lynn Stegnore the 2011 anthology, “West of 98,” a work that aims to “speak to the ways in the which the West imprints itself on the people who live there, as well as how the people of the West create the personality of the region.”
Hosted by the Humanities Montana Speakers Bureau program, Rowland offers his insights around the state in a free presentation called, “The Evolution of the Western Identity.” His most recent speech in the Billings are was at the Pictograph Caves.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 December 2014 10:52
“Charles M. Russell: Photographing the Legend,” by Larry Len Peterson. University of Oklahoma Press. Hardcover, 328 pages.
Being a writer with a moderately respectable library, plus using my commercial libraries and book stores, I am not easily impressed by just looking at a book.
Prior to seeing this one, only one or two others have gotten my immediately impressed response. As soon as I saw and felt this book – the heft is substantial – my reaction was Wow!
Starting at the cover, the photo of Charlie is so intense, so detailed, you expect to see him turn, face you, and start a conversation.
This book is due in part to the sponsorship of three entities, each prominent in its respective field: the Gilcrease Museum, University of Tulsa, Okla.; the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Art Auction; and the C.M. Russell Museum, Great Falls.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 December 2014 10:51
“John Mullan: The Tumultuous Life of a Western Road Builder,” by Keith C. Petersen. Washington State University Press. Paperback, 336 pages.
For John Mullan Jr., there was life after “his road.”
These are some of the high points:
There was a family, including an apparent out-of-wedlock son to a Native American woman while building the road, which was the first government-funded road across the Northern Rockies. There were business ventures, some of which were successful.
Most of those were results of using the same tactics and contacts as he did to accomplish the road. Other ventures, because of his determined nature, irritated some to the extent they did not want to do business with him. Others, because they were used to circumventing good business ethics, caused Mullan consternation and frustration.
The oldest of 11 children born to a career military man and his wife, Mullan was well suited for a lifestyle of regimentation and attention to detail. Add to that a natural interest in the sciences, math and exploration, and you have the complete package.
Last Updated on Friday, 19 December 2014 10:56
Cindy Watkins Bye, an environmental engineer, has worked as a Lutheran missionary since December 2009 in a remote part of Liberia, among a people called the Kuwaa.
She often works alone to help install wells and bring large, portable filters to provide safe drinking water. She’s returned every year to the small, West African country during the dry season, but the deadly Ebola virus has canceled her plans for 2015.
While her Kuwaa people are, so far, protected by their isolation, it’s too dangerous to fly into Monrovia, the capital city. As of Dec. 8, there were 7,690 Ebola cases with 3,161 deaths.
But the plight of the citizens resulted in little response in the United States. “Nobody really cared until the Ebola was here in America,” said Ms. Watkins Bye.
It took the death of a Liberian national, Thomas Eric Duncan, an African with a totally American name, to get national attention and concern. When he showed up at a hospital emergency department in Dallas, he was just another poor black man with flu-like symptoms and no insurance. His American name points to the strong ties between his homeland and the U.S.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 December 2014 12:15