Bill Pickett: The Life of the Legendary Rodeo and Wild West Show Performer

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Sinopsis

The Wild West made legends out of many men and women through the embellishment of their stories, but it was Buffalo Bill Cody who truly brought the Wild West to life and provided the images that people still associate with the 19th century West today. Though he had a long career that spanned service in the Civil War, trapping, and even a stint with the Pony Express, Buffalo Bill eventually became synonymous with his world-famous Wild West Show. By depicting stereotypical Western scenes like riding the Pony Express, and gunfights between cowboys and Indians, Buffalo Bill became one of the men most responsible for establishing how the public remembered the Wild West, and the show influenced subsequent film and literature. The show also featured several kinds of activities that are still part of rodeos today, including riding bucking broncos, roping livestock, and target shooting.

Almost absent in the perceptions of modern America is the comprehension of African Americans participating so prolifically in the building of the nation. Print fiction idealizing the cowboy life to Eastern readers would not depict what had ignited the war for which so many had an utter revulsion. The black man of the post-war years did not inspire the white spirit so essential for reveling in the old system. The 20th century’s television and cinematic offerings operated on the same drive, and the existence of black cattle workers was all but blotted out. Indeed, many of the modern age are barely aware that an African-American ever “stepped foot on the West bank of the Mississippi River.”[1] No one saw the black cowboy on screen or in print, the two information industries that shaped our perception of America’s westward expansion. Therefore, a collective assumption that they must never have existed at all was nationally internalized.


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