Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fall Reading 2015 The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas


Wild horses. Indian attacks. Buffalo hunts. Wagon trains. Imagine growing up in an era where those things still happened. Billy Cody moved with his family from Iowa to Kansas. His father hoped for a free state, but some folks in neighboring Missouri wanted another slave state and it caused enormous problems. There were vigilantes, border raids, ballot boxes were stuffed with illegal votes, and his father was stabbed by a man just for saying he wanted Kansas to be free. Although his father was not an abolitionist, the Cody family was persecuted and threatened repeatedly. It wasn't enough that his older brother had died after a riding accident, or that his father never recovered from the stabbing and died a few years later. Their crops were burned, cattle run off, belongings stolen, and Billy was the man of the house when he wasn't even a teenager yet.

Despite all the hardships, he also had a lot of adventures that he enjoyed, and the book captures those times, too. He herded cattle along the wagon trails, rounded up horses, acted as a scout and messenger, rode for the Pony Express, and served in the Union Army long before he ever formed his famous Wild West Show. Often we overlook the childhood of famous individuals, but Buffalo Bill Cody's younger years were what gave him the skills and confidence to put together a show that traveled America and Europe, even getting a bow from the Queen of England and impressing a young Winston Churchill.

The events are described using information from interviews, books, and other documents by Cody and his sisters. There are photographs of Cody and Sitting Bull, along with many illustrations from paintings and sketches from the time period of the events. Tying in the primary sources helps to ground a story that might otherwise seem unbelievable. 

For anyone who enjoys the "Wild West" or is interested in Buffalo Bill and his contemporaries such as Kit Carson, Wild Bill Hickok, and Annie Oakley will be captivated by this retelling of the major events in Bill's life.

I read a e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

No comments:

Post a Comment