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William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody was the most famous American of his age. He claimed to have worked for the Pony Express when only a boy and to have scouted for General George Custer. But what was his real story? And how did a frontiersman become a worldwide celebrity?
In this prize-winning biography, acclaimed author Louis S. Warren explains not only how Cody exaggerated his real experience as an army scout and buffalo hunter, but also how that experience inspired him to create the gigantic, traveling spectacle known as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. A dazzling mix of Indians, cowboys, and vaqueros, they performed on two continents for three decades, offering a surprisingly modern view of the United States and a remarkably democratic version of its history. This definitive biography reveals the genius of America’s greatest showman, and the startling history of the American West that drove him and his performers to the world stage.
“The most ambitious book ever published about Cody and his times. No one interested in Buffalo Bill, 19th-century show business or the many meanings of the American West will want to pass it up.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Warren writes with the tireless ebullience of a scholar in love with his material. . . . The grocery tabloids missed a good thing by not being around when Buffalo Bill was king of the box office.” —The New York Review of Books
“Meticulously researched and entertaining. . . . A fascinating and accessible study of a man who . . . can still teach us today about how things are not always what they appear to be.” —The Portland Oregonian
“Not just a biography but an examination of the cultures of the eastern United States and Europe and their relationship with the American West.” —The Denver Post
“In Buffalo Bill's America we watch as our national dream evolves, as our nation sets about becoming what it is. Louis S. Warren has given us a terrific book, a scrupulously researched history, judicious and sane, a wonderfully told, vivid, and compelling story.” —William Kittredge, author of The Nature of Generosity
“In this major reappraisal of Bill Cody’s large life and larger impact, Louis Warren has produced a beautifully written, creatively imagined, convincingly argued biography of a symbolic American life. Here is the story of an emerging American popular culture as it learned the modern trick of celebrity as a shorthand emblem of a national belief system. A stunning book.” —Dan Flores, author of The Natural West
“Louis Warren’s superb book gives us an entwined portrait of William F. Cody, the person, of Buffalo Bill, the persona he (and others) created, and of the culture in which man and myth operated. A must read for its mythbreaking, and even more for its tale of mythmaking.” —Stephen Aron, author of How the West Was Lost
“Louis Warren has written a remarkable book—as complex and compelling as the man at its center. Buffalo Bill presides over a cast that includes Sitting Bull, Annie Oakley, ‘Count Dracula,’ and dozens of the fascinating bit players who worked that tricky territo where the Old West turned into the New.” —Ann Fabian, author of The Unvarnished Truth: Personal Narratives in Nineteenth-Century America
“Even as he carefully sifts Cody’s facts from his fictions, Louis Warren reveals how the play between real and faux made the showman-scout an archetypal figure for Americans at the turn of the twentieth century—and how Cody’s legacies of celebrity performance and self-fashioning continues to speak to us today. Lively, solid, and compelling,
Buffalo Bill’s America is historical writing at its best.” —Philip J. Deloria, author of Indians in Unexpected Places