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A Rendezvous Reader
Tall, Tangled, and True Tales of the Mountain Men, 1805–1850
Edited by James H. Maguire, Peter Wild, and Donald A. Barclay
The early plans for Mount Rushmore called for blasting heroic likenesses of mountain men—Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, and John Colter—into the solid mountain granite of South Dakota. Readers of this colorful volume will see the heroics and the brutally rugged individualism that made these fur trappers candidates for legend and infamy.
The accounts of the mountain men are spun from the experiences of a nation moving westward: a trapper returns from the dead; hunters feast on buffalo intestines served on a dirty blanket; a missionary woman is astounded by the violence and vulgarity of the trappers’ rendezvous. These are just a few of the narratives, tall tales, and just plain lies that make up A Rendezvous Reader.
The writers represented in this book include dyed-in-the wool trappers, adventuring European nobles, upward-gazing eastern missionaries, and just plain hacks who never unsheathed a Green River knife or traveled farther west than the Ohio River. What these writers have in common is that all of them, whether they dealt mostly in fact or entirely in fantasy, helped to create a uniquely American icon: the mountain man.
Though A Rendezvous Reader will certainly be of interest to the historian and the historically curious, the true purpose of this anthology is to bring together in one volume the liveliest most readable accounts by and about the mountain men. Whether you sample or devour this anthology of mountain horrors and delights, it is a book guaranteed to entertain as well as inform.
James H. Maguire is professor of English at Boise State University.
Peter Wild is professor of English at Boise State University.
Donald A. Barclay is coordinator of electronic services for the University of Houston Libraries.
Table of Contents:
Section One: Tall Tales, Amazing Scenes, and Trickery of the Fur Trade
Section Two: Heading for the Mountains
Section Three: Trappers and Their Trade
Section Four: Mountain Women
Section Five: Famous Trappers
Section Six: Rendezvous
Section Seven: Critics of the Fur Trade
Section Eight: Indians
Section Nine: Animals
Section Ten: Missionaries
Section Eleven: Fur Trappers in Fiction
Section Twelve: Farewell to the Mountain-Man Life
Praise and Reviews:
“The book will take you by storm…the material on this subject is so exciting and compelling. Wonderful, filled with quotes and extracts designed to delight and cover every spectrum of mountain man life.”
—The Publication for Western Americana Enthusiasts
“The next best thing to spending some time with Jim Bridger and Kit Carson around a campfire.”
“Culled from the best writings by and about the mountainmen.”
—The Herald Journal
“Lively, readable account of the ‘horrors and delights’ of this fascinating chapter of Americana.”
—Cowboys & Indians
“Talbot’s account holds attention with its easy-to-read style. An attractive, even somewhat sympathetic, story of a trader remarkable for his caution and wise in his choices of safe and productive trapping areas.”
—Oregon Historical Quarterly
“Skillfully added prose of explanation, interpretation, and editorial comment preface each section and story to assist the reader in placing a context. The stories themselves transport the reader to greater understanding than what a mere discerning of the academic history of the era could ever disclose; they impart color, humor, and rustic homily of this highly romanticized era.”
—Utah Historical Quarterly
“A rousing example of scholarship that happens when authors respect their subject matter. In convincing fashion, they celebrate, instead of evaluate, the legacy of these Western soldiers of fortune. Valuable contributions to the study of Western history and literature.”
—Journal of the West