For some time I’ve been looking forward to Andrew Offenburger’s Frontiers in the Gilded Age: Adventure, Capitalism, and Dispossession from Southern Africa to the U.S.-Mexican Borderlands, 1880-1917.
This book begins in an era when romantic notions of American frontiering overlapped with Gilded Age extractive capitalism. In the late nineteenth century, the U.S.-Mexican borderlands constituted one stop of many where Americans chased capitalist dreams beyond the United States. Crisscrossing the American West, southern Africa, and northern Mexico, Andrew Offenburger examines how these frontier spaces could glitter with grandiose visions, expose the flawed and immoral strategies of profiteers, and yet reveal the capacity for resistance and resilience that indigenous people summoned when threatened. Linking together a series of stories about Boer exiles who settled in Mexico, a global network of protestant missionaries, and adventurers involved in the parallel displacements of indigenous peoples in Rhodesia and the Yaqui Indians in Mexico, Offenburger situates the borderlands of the Mexican North and the American Southwest within a global system, bound by common actors who interpreted their lives through a shared frontier ideology.
That’s the sort of thing that trips the old Frontier Partisans trigger, so it does. I expect our old friend Frederick Russell Burnham will make an appearance, as regards his effort to develop an agricultural colony in Yaqui lands. It drops on June 25.
And another one… Clay Risen, journalist and expert on whiskey, will drop this on June 4. My order is in at the library.
The dramatic story of the most famous regiment in American history: the Rough Riders, a motley group of soldiers led by Theodore Roosevelt, whose daring exploits marked the beginning of American imperialism in the 20th century.
When America declared war on Spain in 1898, the US Army had just 26,000 men, spread around the country—hardly an army at all. In desperation, the Rough Riders were born. A unique group of volunteers, ranging from Ivy League athletes to Arizona cowboys and led by Theodore Roosevelt, they helped secure victory in Cuba in a series of gripping, bloody fights across the island. Roosevelt called their charge in the Battle of San Juan Hill his “crowded hour”—a turning point in his life, one that led directly to the White House. “The instant I received the order,” wrote Roosevelt, “I sprang on my horse and then my ‘crowded hour’ began.” As The Crowded Hour reveals, it was a turning point for America as well, uniting the country and ushering in a new era of global power.
Both a portrait of these men, few of whom were traditional soldiers, and of the Spanish-American War itself, The Crowded Hour dives deep into the daily lives and struggles of Roosevelt and his regiment. Using diaries, letters, and memoirs, Risen illuminates a disproportionately influential moment in American history: a war of only six months’ time that dramatically altered the United States’ standing in the world. In this brilliant, enlightening narrative, the Rough Riders—and a country on the brink of a new global dominance—are brought fully and gloriously to life.
Marilyn and I are deeply enmeshed in the second and final season of AMC’s The Son. The show’s 1915 storyline is a reminder that, wherever I may roam, my true frontier home is that very era described above, when the old frontier and the modern era met and mingled in places like the U.S./Mexico border and southern Africa. The material culture and aesthetic are intrinsically pleasing to me, and the Americana music that is my personal soundtrack has its origins here, as Ragtime, jazz and blues are born and begin to cross-pollinate with the old-time Appalachian ballads…
It just feels like home.
The deadliest gunfight in Arizona history was not the celebrated shootout near the OK Corral in Tombstone; it occurred at a remote cabin in the Galiuro Mountains in 1918, and it was sparked . This interesting documentary digs deep into the Power fight.
Why did eight men fight to the death on a cold winter’s morning in a remote canyon? Were they fighting over the gold mine? Or was the federal government determined to punish draft evaders with deadly force?
The estimable pulp writer Christa Faust scouted up what looks to be a noir-ish cinematic take on Tall Tales from the Wild East.
1945, Hungary. Shortly after the end of World War II, when chaos and insecurity reign supreme in the country, a con man tries to take advantage of such confused times. Forced to flee Budapest, he’s given shelter in the woods by a mysterious woman and her son. Still trying to confront his demons, he soon finds himself in a passionate love affair with the woman whose husband is about to return home from the front.
My cowboy soap opera Yellowstone is apparently quite a hit. This pleases me, for the sake of its creator Taylor Sheridan, whom I consider a kindred spirit, and for the sake of all of us who just can’t resist a tale of epic family dysfunction played out in a magnificent landscape. With horses — and really good music. Yeah, I’m back to that Americana thing. Yellowstone has featured Billy Joe Shaver, Mary Gauthier’s “Mercy Now,” “Ashokan Farewell,” a cameo from Whiskey Myers, The Tricias — and Ryan Bingham has a recurring role as a paroled prisoner who finds a dangerous refuge on the Yellowstone.
Told you Sheridan is a kindred soul…
Yellowstone has produced a promotional series of tintype cast photos that are most cool.
Season 2 starts on June 19.
A little something you didn’t know you needed (from MovieWeb):
The Last of the Mohicans is making its long-awaited debut on LP. The widely celebrated score from composer Joel McNeely and the world-famous Royal Scottish National Orchestra thoughtfully reimagines the original 1992 films soundtrack by Randy Edelman and Trevor Jones. Available on classic black vinyl beginning June 14th, Barnes and Noble will additionally offer an exclusive version on “Hawkeye Tan” colored vinyl, limited to 750 units.