A Most Desperate Situation: Frontier Adventures of a Young Scout,1858-64

Walter Cooper, Author, Rick Newby, Editor, Larry Len Peterson, Introduction by
Walter Cooper, Author, Rick Newby, Editor, Larry Len Peterson, Introduction by Two Dot Books $29.95 (360p) ISBN 978-1-56044-891-4
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Ebook - 360 pages - 978-0-7627-2095-8
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Cooper, a real-life Montana frontiersman (1843-1924), penned only one novel, around 1910. Illustrated with original pen-and-ink sketches by famed western artist Charles M. Russell, this book went unpublished for almost 90 years. Although billed as a novel of the Old West, it may be a highly dramatic autobiography, since Cooper lived, worked and fought in the same places and era he describes. Edited from 1,500 handwritten pages, the narrative follows protagonist Walter Cooper on his travels, from 1858 to 1864, from a farm in Michigan to the wild beauty and dangers of the western mountains and prairies. Its period western writing follows a typical formula, with the young hero displaying the manly traits of courage, courtesy and fair play while coolly facing down desperadoes, savages and grizzly bears. Young Walter dreams of striking gold on Pike's Peak, but en route he traps with--and in effect apprentices to--famed mountainman Jim Bridger. He later scouts for wagon trains, stares down bullies, shoots a passel of two-legged varmints, mines for gold, duels with a couple of cowards and is smitten by a beautiful Mexican senorita, whom he saves from Apaches. An abrupt, unsatisfying ending and numerous moralizing speeches detract from a melodramatic, if amiably old-fashioned, tale of action, bravery and imagination. (Mar.)
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