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American Endurance: Buffalo Bill, the Great Cowboy Race of 1893, and the Vanishing Wild West

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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Richard A. Serrano's new book American Endurance: The Great Cowboy Race and the Vanishing Wild West is history, mystery, and Western all rolled into one. In June 1893, nine cowboys raced across a thousand miles of American prairie to the Chicago World's Fair. For two weeks they thundered past angry sheriffs, governors, and Human Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Richard A. Serrano's new book American Endurance: The Great Cowboy Race and the Vanishing Wild West is history, mystery, and Western all rolled into one. In June 1893, nine cowboys raced across a thousand miles of American prairie to the Chicago World's Fair. For two weeks they thundered past angry sheriffs, governors, and Humane Society inspectors intent on halting their race. Waiting for them at the finish line was Buffalo Bill Cody, who had set up his Wild West Show right next to the World's Fair that had refused to allow his exhibition at the fair. The Great Cowboy Race occurred at a pivotal moment in our nation's history: many believed the frontier was settled and the West was no more. The Chicago World's Fair represented the triumph of modernity and the end of the cowboy age. Except no one told the cowboys. Racing toward Buffalo Bill Cody and the gold-plated Colt revolver he promised to the first to reach his arena, nine men went on a Wild West stampede from tiny Chadron, Nebraska, to bustling Chicago. But at the first thud of hooves pounding on Chicago's brick pavement, the race devolved into chaos. Some of the cowboys shipped their horses part of the way by rail, or hired private buggies. One had the unfair advantage of having helped plan the route map in the first place. It took three days, numerous allegations, and a good old Western showdown to sort out who was first to Chicago, and who won the Great Cowboy Race.


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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Richard A. Serrano's new book American Endurance: The Great Cowboy Race and the Vanishing Wild West is history, mystery, and Western all rolled into one. In June 1893, nine cowboys raced across a thousand miles of American prairie to the Chicago World's Fair. For two weeks they thundered past angry sheriffs, governors, and Human Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Richard A. Serrano's new book American Endurance: The Great Cowboy Race and the Vanishing Wild West is history, mystery, and Western all rolled into one. In June 1893, nine cowboys raced across a thousand miles of American prairie to the Chicago World's Fair. For two weeks they thundered past angry sheriffs, governors, and Humane Society inspectors intent on halting their race. Waiting for them at the finish line was Buffalo Bill Cody, who had set up his Wild West Show right next to the World's Fair that had refused to allow his exhibition at the fair. The Great Cowboy Race occurred at a pivotal moment in our nation's history: many believed the frontier was settled and the West was no more. The Chicago World's Fair represented the triumph of modernity and the end of the cowboy age. Except no one told the cowboys. Racing toward Buffalo Bill Cody and the gold-plated Colt revolver he promised to the first to reach his arena, nine men went on a Wild West stampede from tiny Chadron, Nebraska, to bustling Chicago. But at the first thud of hooves pounding on Chicago's brick pavement, the race devolved into chaos. Some of the cowboys shipped their horses part of the way by rail, or hired private buggies. One had the unfair advantage of having helped plan the route map in the first place. It took three days, numerous allegations, and a good old Western showdown to sort out who was first to Chicago, and who won the Great Cowboy Race.

39 review for American Endurance: Buffalo Bill, the Great Cowboy Race of 1893, and the Vanishing Wild West

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    American Endurance Author: Richard A Serrano Publisher: Smithsonian Books Published In: Washington, DC Date: 2016 Pgs: 260 _________________________________________________ REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS Summary: 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The Fair refused the inclusion of Buffalo Bill Cody. Well, he’d show them. He set up his Wild West Show right next to the World’s Fair and sponsored a thousand mile Cowboy Race that would end at his show. First man across the finish line would get a gold-plated Colt re American Endurance Author: Richard A Serrano Publisher: Smithsonian Books Published In: Washington, DC Date: 2016 Pgs: 260 _________________________________________________ REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS Summary: 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The Fair refused the inclusion of Buffalo Bill Cody. Well, he’d show them. He set up his Wild West Show right next to the World’s Fair and sponsored a thousand mile Cowboy Race that would end at his show. First man across the finish line would get a gold-plated Colt revolver. The World’s Fair was promoting modernity and the end of the cowboy age, except no one told the cowboys. Nine men tore across Middle America from Chadron, Nebraska to Chicago. And chaos ensued. Cheating, riding the rails, private buggies, it took three days and a showdown before a winner could be determined. _________________________________________________ Genre: Nonfiction Sports Individual Sports Horses Racing History of Sports Sports and Outdoors Why this book: Cowboys and the nadir of the Old West _________________________________________________ Favorite Character: Rattlesnake Pete and Old Joe Gillespie. The Feel: The deaths being mentioned in the story, before the race even starts, are setting the tone that just living in these harsh environs was difficult, much less racing a thousand miles through them. If it was all this much doom and gloom, and rats and locusts, and such, why did anyone stay in The West? How bad must it have been for these folks back in the civilized East? Favorite Scene / Quote: The story of No-Flesh, the Indian, and Mrs Peterson’s donuts is greatness. She is cooking donuts and a group of Indians, lead by No-Flesh, pushed into her house. They refuse to leave and she keeps cooking donuts. They keep eating donuts. Her husband returns home and manages to convince them to leave. Later, No-Flesh returns with his wife and wants Mr Peterson to trade wives with him. “They are the ruin of the country,” complained an old trail driver from Texas in 1884, frustrated with farmers. “They have everlastingly, eternally, now and forever, destroyed the best grazing land in the world. The range country, sir, was never intended for raising farm truck. It was intended for cattle and horses, and was the best stock-raising land on earth until they got to turning over sode, improving the country, as they call it. Lord forgive them for such improvements! It makes me sick to think of it. I am sick enough to need two doctors, a druggery, and a mineral spring, when I think of onions and Irish potatoes growing where mustang ponies should be exercising, and where four-year-old steers should be getting ripe for market.” Pacing: The pace is drug down by the circuitous Humane Society narrative. Plot Holes/Out of Character: With as much time as is being spent on pioneering, Chadron, Nebraska, and Buffalo Bill, it’s beginning to leave me with the feeling that there isn’t much to the story of the race. Or the race, itself, would make a much shorter book. A long form book on pioneer life and Nebraska, another book on Buffalo Bill, and, then, a shorter book about The Great Cowboy Race may have been more in order. Hmm Moments: The Children’s Blizzard, I remember reading about it in 1 of the Little House on the Prairie books. I thought it was a pastiche of many Winters though. Never realized that there was a killer storm that caught that many school children on their way home from school. WTF Moments: The story of the two sisters getting lose in the Sand Hills of Nebraska, trying to walk the mile and a half from their older sister’s home back to theirs, the girls, 8 and 4. Them managing to get lost, severely lost, following a ghost fire on the horizon that they think represents help. 4 days later, the searchers found the 4 year old walking. She had worn the soles off her new shoes. She and her sister had gotten separated when her older sister climbed a hill to see how much closer they were to that campfire they had been chasing. The younger tried to circle the hill to catch up with her sister. They never found each other again. They found her sister an additional 4 days later. The 8 year old had walked 75 miles in a week before dying of exposure. Meh / PFFT Moments: The idea that this largely forgotten race wasn’t for individual glory but the immortality of the Old West is over romantic and silly. Even if you go with the idea that it was for civic pride, how many of us have ever heard of Chadron, Nebraska. The immortality of the Old West is more tied up in the icons of the age. Even Buffalo Bill Cody isn’t as central to that mythos today as he was for previous generations. Wisdom: Left to wonder if all the death being represented in the book is meant to show that the West was still untamed or that these types of thing weren’t going to happen in the world aborning. This plays against the dichotomy of the views of the Chicago World’s Fair and Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. The horror stories of the West aren’t told as often as the hero tales. But the frontier, by its nature, wasn’t forgiving, and was no place for small children. But families who needed to stay together and were trying to build a life, what choice did they have. “Let them(women) do any kind of work that they see fit, and if they do it as well as men, give them the same pay.” -Buffalo Bill Cody Before 1893, Buffalo Bill Cody suggested a national game preserve to save the buffalo. “The fate of the buffalo, which a few years ago roamed the plains in herds of tens of thousands, is to be the fate of all other game unless something is done to check the wholesale destruction of wild animals.” In January of that year, he attempted to get the US Interior Department to go along with him on that idea. It was rejected. Why isn’t there a screenplay? Maybe there should be. There’s a line describing the three frontrunners as they cross into Iowa, “...the old man, the rattlesnake, and the outlaw bunched up like ornery cattle unable to shake one another.” The Old Man, The Rattlesnake, and The Outlaw would make a great movie title. Missed Opportunity: There should be a long distance bike race between Chadron, Nebraska and Chicago every year, a Tour de France type event, call it the Great Cowboy Race, even. In this era of the dying circus, I wonder if a Wild West touring show would be able to support itself? _________________________________________________ Last Page Sound: The race seems to end with a whimper instead of a bang. Then, the final disposition of the cowboys who rode is played out. And then the Postscript leaves the reader with a hard emotion of sadness. Author Assessment: Depends. Editorial Assessment: Overly rigid contextually. What should have been scattered throughout the narrative is focused in the chapters/sections. As an example, the protests against the treatment of the horses was like, pardon the pun, beating a dead horse as the same point was hammered home over and over and over again. More time was spent on the protests against the treatment of horses, which is an important part of the story, than was spent on who the cowboys were. More time was spent on Buffalo Bill and who he was than on who the racers were. More time was spent on the Chicago’s World Fair and the city of Chadron, Nebraska than on the people genuinely involved in the race. Editing could have probably cut this from its 260 pages to under 160, easily. Some of this imbalance could be addressed in the actual coverage of the race, we’ll see. It didn’t. Wasted so, so much time on the treading, retreading, and re-retreading the Humane Society angle that it ate up the story and acted as a distraction. Despite the focus on that angle, the contradictions to it where we saw that the horses were, in large part, in much better shape than the cowboys is significant. Knee Jerk Reaction: it’s alright Disposition of Book: Irving Public Library South Campus Irving, TX Dewey Decimal System: 798.40978 SER Would recommend to: genre fans _________________________________________________

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kym McNabney

    To say that I am obsessed with cowboys, and the western days is an understatement. When I spotted AMERICAN ENDURANCE: BUFFALO BILL, THE GREAT COWBOY RACE OF 1893, AND THE VANISHING WILD WEST by RICHARD A SERRANO I just knew I had to have it. I have to admit this is not my typical read. I read fiction with a cowboy and ranch theme. I love both contemporary and historical. I have been a Little House on the Prairie fan for years. I yearn to live in those days – with the convenience of a computer of To say that I am obsessed with cowboys, and the western days is an understatement. When I spotted AMERICAN ENDURANCE: BUFFALO BILL, THE GREAT COWBOY RACE OF 1893, AND THE VANISHING WILD WEST by RICHARD A SERRANO I just knew I had to have it. I have to admit this is not my typical read. I read fiction with a cowboy and ranch theme. I love both contemporary and historical. I have been a Little House on the Prairie fan for years. I yearn to live in those days – with the convenience of a computer of course. What I expected from reading AMERICAN EDURANCE: BUFFALO BILL, THE GREAT COWBOY RACE OF 1893, AND THE VANISHING WILD WEST is insight to exactly what the title suggest. What I didn’t expect was to be pulled into the book like a well written novel. I was shocked to discover how many pages I was in after just beginning to read. It’s well written, and packed full of history, mystery and adventure. I have lived my entire life just an hour from Chicago, in Illinois. To imagine something historical happening so near to my hometown is exciting. Even more so to read about it. It is hard to phantom that just one hundred and twenty-three years ago life was so vastly different then today. Only three years before my grandmother was born. I feel blessed to have run cross this amazing read. *Please see my profile for more information on this review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andy Iakobson

    This book reads like you sat down at a table with three old men who are aiming to tell you this story, but keep interrupting each other to digress and clarify and explain things. Which is actually a ton of fun. :P

  4. 5 out of 5

    Megan Upshaw

    It introduced a piece of american history I had no knowledge about and find very interesting.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    'American Endurance' is one terrific read. Author Richard Serrano writes brilliantly and packs this book with tons of fascinating facts and information. He really knows how to tell a good story and keeps you riveted. It's definitely one of the better tales of the Wild West that has been written about in a long time. 'American Endurance' is one terrific read. Author Richard Serrano writes brilliantly and packs this book with tons of fascinating facts and information. He really knows how to tell a good story and keeps you riveted. It's definitely one of the better tales of the Wild West that has been written about in a long time.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed Kawa

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stu

  8. 5 out of 5

    Martin

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Little repetitive. Would have made a great essay.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Josh

  11. 5 out of 5

    Blazick

  12. 4 out of 5

    Art

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shay Clubberland

  14. 5 out of 5

    J

  15. 4 out of 5

    CM

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christina

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robert O'neal

  18. 5 out of 5

    Angie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Charles Glen

  20. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kay Card

  22. 4 out of 5

    Apex157x

  23. 5 out of 5

    ``Laurie Henderson

  24. 5 out of 5

    Larry

  25. 5 out of 5

    rtxlib

  26. 5 out of 5

    Justin Wiebe

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  29. 4 out of 5

    loisa beiza

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lori Rose

  31. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

  32. 5 out of 5

    P.M. Brannock

  33. 5 out of 5

    Lindsy Vincent

  34. 4 out of 5

    Scott Wilson

  35. 5 out of 5

    Smithsonian Books

  36. 4 out of 5

    Hayley Shaver

  37. 5 out of 5

    Amelia Johnson

  38. 4 out of 5

    Martha

  39. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

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