Ian Frazier is the author of eleven books, including Great Plains, Family, On the Rez, and Travels in Siberia.
 (March 2020)


Never Before Seen in the West

Téa Obreht; drawing by Joanna Neborsky


by Téa Obreht
A reviewer should know better than to give away the ending of a book, but what about the beginning? In Téa Obreht’s Western-themed novel, Inland, the beginning appears to be a monologue delivered from one comrade-in-adventures to another—and in a sense, it is. The person who is speaking and his …

Staying Native

A commemoration of the Wounded Knee massacre, Pine Ridge, South Dakota, 2016

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present

by David Treuer
In 1881 Helen Hunt Jackson, a member of that era’s East Coast liberal elite, shook up her world with her book A Century of Dishonor: A Sketch of the United States Government’s Dealings with Some of the Indian Tribes. Much of it is about massacres of Indians. As Bishop H.B.

Rough Riders

Ryder Wright on a bucking horse at his family’s ranch, Milford, Utah, 2014

The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West

by John Branch
Joseph Brodsky wrote, “Should the world be designated a genre, its main stylistic device would no doubt be water.” He was talking about the watery city of Venice, and about the natural affinity humans (made mostly of water) have with it. But if in the end we will all return …

Texas Chronicles

Cybill Shepherd in Peter Bogdanovich’s film adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s novel The Last Picture Show, 1971

Thalia: A Texas Trilogy

by Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry wrote his first novel, Horseman, Pass By, in 1958, when he was just out of college, and he published it in 1961. His second, Leaving Cheyenne, came out in 1963. He published his third, The Last Picture Show, in 1966, when he was thirty. In the small Ohio …

A Vast and Terrifying Saga

Annie Proulx near Sheridan, Wyoming, 1996


by Annie Proulx
I wonder what old-time tellers of stories about the American West would make of Annie Proulx. If you told writers like Owen Wister (The Virginian) or Willa Cather (O Pioneers!) or A.B. Guthrie (The Way West) or Jack Schaefer (Shane) or Dorothy M. Johnson (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence) …

The Magic of the Oldest Pueblo

Edward S. Curtis: Feast Day at Acoma, 1904

How the World Moves: The Odyssey of an American Indian Family

by Peter Nabokov

The Origin Myth of Acoma Pueblo

by Edward Proctor Hunt, with an introduction by Peter Nabokov, translated from the Keresan by Henry Wayne Wolf Robe Hunt and Wilbert Edward Blue Sky Eagle Hunt
About a hundred years ago, footloose men and women of a certain romantic disposition discovered the American Southwest and were blown away. The dramatic landscape, the largely intact Native American culture, the atmosphere of ancient mysteries preserved in dry desert air—all combined to put a powerful charm on their minds.

Who Can Find the True West?

Jackson Pollock: Going Wes, 1934–1935

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

by Rinker Buck
A few years ago I discovered that I am what is called a “rut nut.” I had known for a long time that the ruts of long-abandoned trails and historic highways fascinate me. In western North Dakota, at the grassy, overgrown rise where Fort Union, a fur-trading fort near the …


Alaska Through New Eyes

The whaling schooner San Jose, Bering Sea, circa 1886

In 1886, the sole representative of American authority in Alaskan waters was the US Revenue Cutter Bear, a 198-foot, reinforced-hull vessel powered by both steam and sail. Newly published photographs from the Bear’s cruise that summer chronicle its journey from San Francisco to Alaska and Siberia, and are among the earliest photos of that part of the world.