Make some room on that bookshelf for editor picks including a biography of Shawnee brothers Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa, Craig Johnson’s latest Walt Longmire novel, and a what-if romp about Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid.
Editor’s Note: The Real Deal is C&I’s 2021 entertainment feature where we share our recommendations for musicians, writers, entertainers, and podcasters who possess a common trait: unmistakable authenticity.
Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Shawnee Brothers Who Defied a Nation
Peter Cozzens’ 2016 The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West won multiple awards for history books, landed on best-of-the-year lists including Smithsonian.com’s top 10 history books, and was such a favorite at C&I that we had him write about his research for the book in our January 2017 issue. Needless to say, we were looking forward to the follow-up.
Four years later comes what could be considered a prequel of sorts to The Earth Is Weeping: a biography of the Shawnee brothers Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa, who in the early 19th century managed to unite more than a dozen tribes against the physical and spiritual violence wrought upon them by American settlers exploiting the lands they’d recently won from the British. The book (Knopf) is also a corrective of previous histories that downplay or overlook the importance to the alliance movement of Tenskwatawa’s spiritual leadership. Far from an untalented fraud, a label with which other historians have dismissed him, he created an important spiritual and cultural doctrine that was as important to this intertribal unification as Tecumseh’s brilliant leadership in diplomacy and war.
Leave It as It Is: A Journey Through Theodore Roosevelt’s American Wilderness
In Leave It as It Is (Simon & Schuster), the author of All the Wild That Remains trips through the natural wonders of the West that awakened President Theodore Roosevelt’s conservationist conscience, including the Dakota Badlands, Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and the site of a present-day showdown between Native tribes who see it as a sacred place and supportive environmentalists versus energy companies who see it as a potential revenue source: Bears Ears, Utah.
Next to Last Stand: A Longmire Mystery
Well, everyone knows Cassilly Adams’ painting Custer’s Last Fight was destroyed in a fire at the 7th Cavalry Headquarters in Fort Bliss, Texas, in 1946. What this book presupposes is ... maybe it wasn’t? The latest Walt Longmire novel (Viking) sends the sheriff on the trail of an art heist while investigating a shoe box containing a million dollars in cash found in the possession of his recently deceased pal at the Veterans’ Home of Wyoming.
The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America
During World War II, the United States government forcibly imprisoned 120,000 Japanese Americans in camps scattered across the West, including one at Heart Mountain, just outside Cody, Wyoming. There, the prisoners did their best to maintain a semblance of normal life, establishing schools, temples, sumo pits, Kabuki theater, and other comforts to distract them from the racism, harsh conditions, freezing cold, and other hardships they faced. Then, in the fall of 1943, the camp’s high school football team, the Eagles, had an incredible undefeated season, clobbering the predominantly white nearby schools. The next year, though, the young men faced their biggest challenge yet when they faced the decision of whether to join the Army or defy the draft in protest. Look for an interview with the author about The Eagles of Heart Mountain (Atria) from us soon.
Billy (the Kid): A Novel
A what-if western romp of a novel (Sentient Publications) whose hero, a retired dentist claiming to be the mythic Wild West outlaw, faces down murderous bootleggers and corrupt lawmen in a small town during Prohibition.
From our January 2021 issue.