Frontier Partisan Tennis Anyone?


Some folks I know consider my passion for tennis incongruous. In their estimation, the gentlemanly sport doesn’t “fit” with the guns, the woods running, the shitkicker music, etc. Well, I’m here to tell you that there is precedence for Frontier Partisan tennis. Reading J.G. Millais’ seminal biography of Frederick Courteney Selous, I was … [Read more...]

Frontier Partisan Cinema — The Roosevelts

Swingin' that big stick… TR and the Rough Riders in Cuba.

Ken Burns' new documentary "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History" starts Sunday night on PBS stations. Theodore Roosevelt was a Frontier Partisan President. Franklin was not. TR had experience on the South Dakota frontier, famously fought with the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, and wrote an excellent history of the early frontier in … [Read more...]

Frontier Partisan Cinema — Daniel Boone and the Opening of the American West


 “Daniel Boone and the Opening of the American West” is destined to be the definitive documentary treatment of the life of Daniel Boone. A running time of 112 minutes allows more depth than you can get out of an hour-long History Channel doc and the Witnessing History production spearheaded by Kent Masterson Brown takes full advantage of the … [Read more...]

The Frontier Partisans Ur-Myth

David Wright's painting of Daniel Boone leading settlers into the promised land of Kentucky is the cover image of the new documentary Daniel Boone and the Opening of the West. The religious overtones are no accident; the Boone story is a kind of American Exodus.

  The Daniel Boone story is my personal ur-myth. I imbibed that classic American frontier tale so early that it seeped into my bones. I can’t remember ever not-knowing every single beat of Boone’s tale: the youngster who preferred the forest to the classroom; the young teamster listening avidly to trader John Finley’s stories of fabled … [Read more...]

Rhodesian History

Jenny over at 1870-1918 blog has returned from enviable adventures to continue her excellent series on the maneuverings and machinations that led to the creation of Rhodesia in the 1880s and ’90s. Victorian morality required at least a fig leaf of legality for what really amounted to modern buccaneering. As Jenny's work makes clear, the … [Read more...]

Look Again To The Wind Revisited


The Sisters Folk Festival gets underway on September 4. I’m a board member, which means I’m gonna be BUSY for the next week or so. That means limited posting on Frontier Partisans. In the spirit of the event, I give you a follow-up on my recent music post: The remake of Johnny Cash’s “Bitter Tears” is out. My favorite track — to no one’s … [Read more...]

Frontier Partisan Cinema — Winter in the Blood


“Your wife is gone. She took your rifle.” Well, that’s a bit of bad news to set a man on an odyssey. And that’s what happens in the novel “Winter in the Blood,” by James Welch, the novel that kicked off the so-called Native American Renaissance. Now the novel by the late-great Blackfoot poet and novelist has been made into a film that looks … [Read more...]

Frontier Partisan Cinema — Mad Max: Fury Road

Max is back.

Seeing “The Road Warrior” at the Chinese Theater in darkest Hollywood when I was in high school was a mind-bending experience. Jacked up on a steady diet of pulp Westerns by John Benteen, I was well-primed for George Miller’s particular brand of post-apocalyptic mayhem. Max Rockatansky was, to me, a classic lone wolf gunslinging frontiersman on an … [Read more...]

A World-Defining Conflict

Still fit and able at 64, the hunter Frederick Courteney Selous fought in World War I with the Legion of Frontiersmen. He was killed in battle by a German sniper.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of Germany’s declaration of war on France, precipitating First World War, the greatest and most terrible conflict the world had yet seen. For a month, since the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, Europe had been sliding down a slippery slope into war. Now it was on in earnest. The Guns … [Read more...]

‘Look Again to the Wind’


When I was about eight years old, my dad — knowing my passion for all things "frontier" — brought home a borrowed copy of Johnny Cash’s record “Bitter Tears,” a collection of ballads from the point of view of the American Indian. The album was recorded in 1964, and at that time it was a bold move for Cash, representative of his renowned sense of … [Read more...]