The Wild West

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The lawless times in the American Old West during the last half of the nineteenth century.

Historical fiction set in the wild west, selected by Forbes Library Staff. Summaries from ContentCafe, NoveList, Wikipedia, Amazon.com. March 2011.

  • Telegraph Days by Larry McMurtry
    Orphaned by her father's suicide, Nellie and her brother, Jackson, take jobs in the western town of Rita Blanca, where deputy sheriff Jackson is forced to confront six gunfighter brothers and telegrapher Nellie pursues a romance with Buffalo Bill during the Battle of the O.K. Corral.
  • The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook
    Meg, the great-granddaughter of a southwestern frontierswoman, accompanies her grandmother to a family property that is being excavated and makes a discovery that challenges the authenticity of stories about her famous family's history.
  • Blue-Eyed Devil by Robert B. Parker
    Refusing recruitment by ambitious new chief Amos Callico, itinerant lawmen Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch protect local merchants who the chief is harassing for protection money, a situation that escalates to the shooting of a politically connected landowner's son.
  • The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour by Louis L'Amour
    The first volume in a series of anthologies that will present the complete collection of short fiction by the popular novelist features his action-packed tales of danger, hardship, and adventure in the Old West.
  • The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard
    Having made his name by killing notorious bank robber Emmet Long, Deputy U.S. Marshal Carl Webster embarks on a dangerous search for Jack Belmont, the son of an oil millionaire who dreams of becoming Public Enemy Number One.
  • The Wild Girl Notebooks of Ned Giles, 1932: A Novel by Jim Fergus
    Heading west to join the search for the kidnapped son of a wealthy Mexican landowner, Ned Giles meets a troubled Apache girl, imprisoned in a Mexican jail, whose fate forces him to make a choice that will change his life.
  • Etta by Gerald Kolpan
    Imagines the life of Etta Place, once a Philadelphia debutante whose father's death left her orphaned and bankrupt, as she joins Butch Cassidy's notorious gang and begins a romance with the Sundance Kid.
  • The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
    Ordered by their father to find their missing brother, Englishmen Charles and Addington Gaunt set off to America, where guide Jerry Potts and a growing number of companions journey by wagon train and confront a number of personal demons.
  • Summer Moon by Jill Marie Landis
    When mail-order bride Kate Whittington arrives in Texas to meet her new husband, Reed Banton, she is shocked to discover that he has never heard of her, and she becomes determined to melt the rancher's icy heart.
  • The Undertaker’s Wife by Loren D. Estelman
    While her undertaker husband practices the art of making victims of the untamed American west presentable and dignified after death, a woman devotes her time to safeguarding her marriage in the face of local challenges.
  • Heyday by Kurt Andersen
    Englishman Benjamin Knowles heads for America to build a new life and joins up with three young Americans--journalist Timothy Skaggs, war veteran Duff Lucking, and Duff's actress sister, Polly--to seek their fortunes in the gold fields of California.
  • In America by Susan Sontag
    Poland's greatest living actress leads a utopian community to the wilds of 1876 California, where she will struggle to maintain love, hope, and idealism in the harsh reality of the American West.
  • The Outlander by Gil Adamson
    Fleeing the law in 1903 after killing her husband, Mary Boulton races toward the mountains while being tormented by visions of the cold-blooded brothers-in-law who pursue her, forcing her to retreat deeper into the wilds of the West and her own imagination.
  • The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
    Hired as a housekeeper to work on the early 1900s Montana homestead of widower Oliver Milliron, the irreverent Rose and her brother, Morris, endeavor to educate the widower's sons while witnessing local efforts on a massive irrigation project.
  • One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
    An Indian request in 1854 for 1,000 white brides to ensure peace is secretly approved by the U.S. government in this alternate-history novel. Their journey west is described by May Dodd, a high-society woman released from an asylum where she was incarcerated by her family for an affair.

Category: Reading Lists, Historical Fiction

Page last changed: September 22, 2012, at 11:10 AM EST.