cover image In Their Own Words 2: Warriors and Pioneers

In Their Own Words 2: Warriors and Pioneers

Various. Perigee Books, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-399-51988-8

As Stiles says in his preface, ""Personal history is almost always history at its most gripping."" This may be true but-despite the inclusion of names like Francis Parkman, Theodore Roosevelt, Chief Joseph, George Custer and Buffalo Bill Cody-this collection of 26 writers describing the 19th-century American West is often less than gripping. In fact, the most charged writing is ""The Final Reckoning,"" Emmett Dalton's recollection of the massacre of his gang in Coffeyville, Kans., that concludes the anthology. But most of the stories don't pack that wallop. The experiences of two of the four Native Americans in the book, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce and the Chiricahua Apache Geronimo, have often been told before. Theodore Roosevelt's ""The Making of the Cattle Country"" is tinged with jingoism. Still, for the history buff delving into this era, this is an informative, entertaining primer. The book's only woman writer, Fanny Kelly, describes being a Sioux captive. General William T. Sherman remembers California's Gold Rush, and William F. Cody recalls his buffalo hunts. Footnotes, maps, Stiles's narratives and an introduction by historian Richard Maxwell Brown weave together these stories of conflict and conquest, putting them in a broader context of turbulent social, economic and political forces that absorbed the Old West into mainstream America. (Mar.)