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252 Western American Literature account of the interrelationship between an individual and his society or, at least, of portraying individual character rather than social type that in­ vigorates fiction. By such a criterion it is doubtful that many of the stories in American Indian Life can be classified as “good” fiction since the fictional element is seldom more than a hypothetical situation or “fictionalized” case history. But that is not to deny what is really, perhaps, more important. These anthropologists are trying to span the understanding gap not only between professional and layman but that between cultures as well. The prevalence in America of gross and even malicious misconceptions about the Indian and his ways has been both cause and consequence of the failure not only to recognize cultural differences as valid but to appreciate them as the unique if different expressions of the human reaction to life’s environment that they are. By “emphasizing the history rather than the romance” of Indian life, therefore, this volume has decided merit as an introduction to both the similar­ ities and differences among diverse Indian societies and the roles of individuals within a given Indian cultural setting. Hence, though the majority of the accounts may lack certain elements of the exciting story, they all contain to a satisfying compensatory degree that adherence to “truth” necessary for even so-called “good” fiction. Some of the stories, indeed, “The Chief Singer of the Tepecano” and “Cries-for-salmon, a Ten’a Woman” for two, do achieve that subtle freshness of characterization that gives an insight into these societies unaccounted for by the facts alone. It should be noted that as this is a reprint of the original 1922 edition this book is an example of what appears to be a Bison Book policy of keeping such valuable sources in print at a reasonable price for the interested public. S usan T a y lo r , Taos Century in the Saddle. By Richard Goff and Robert H. McCaffree. (Denver: Colorado Cattlemen’s Centennial Commission, 1967. x + 365 pages. flO.OO.) Published by the Colorado Cattlemen’s Centennial Commission, Century in the Saddle has both the merits and the faults of official history. Its merits are its seeming completeness and its sympathetic understanding of the problems of the cattlemen. Its faults are its sometimes clogging detail, its lack of steady overall focus, and its uncritical picture of the cattlemen. Further information about the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association may remain to be discovered, perhaps like the Association’s early records and Reviews 253 minute books in the farthest corner of some basement vault. Nevertheless, this record seems impressively complete. In a research project of obvious dedi­ cation, the authors have worked hard and long. Among the results, for ex­ ample, is a complete list of officers, “this information . . . slowly pieced to­ gether from various documents and the crumbling pages of old newspapers from every section of the state.” Unfortunately for the reader outside the Association, long rosters of names may over burden the story. The narrative thread sags, even breaks. Hopefully the reader skips. But even when not loaded with detail of no clear importance, the history sometimes wanders with uncertain coherence. For instance, Chapter X falters to a close with some sketchy paragraphs on the coyote and the jack rabbit and the economic note that “cattle prices soared after the outbreak of World War I.” And often when some touches of per­ sonality are added to names, the touches are bits of uncritical generalization, indeed the same sort of romantic claims that supposedly such a matter-of-fact history seeks to correct. For example, all members of the Association for the past century seem to be seen as individualistic, “self-made” men, who never­ theless have a “genius for organization.” To the student of Western literature, however, another feature of the book seems more interesting than these historiographical faults and merits. The book comes in a handsome jacket displaying a drawing of an old-time cowboy trying to turn a stampeding herd of longhorns. The drawing fits the title. But neither the title nor the drawing really fits the book. The book, excepting a few passages...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 252-253
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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