The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996 Page: 126
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
9oo Miles on the Butterfield Trail. By A. C. Greene. (Denton: University of North
Texas Press, 1994- Pp. 293. Bibliography, index. ISBN 0-92939-873-4.
In 1991 the University Press of Kansas published a book called Trazls: Toward a
New Western Hzstory which defined new historiographical trends. A. C. Greene's
"trail" book definitely does not belong in the category of "new western history,"
which for some readers will be incentive enough to rush out and buy a copy. In
fact, it is difficult to categorize this book as "history," or to peg it with any easy
Greene, author, screenwriter, and media personality, is a Butterfield Trail
aficionado and a romantic. He traveled the Texas span of the old stage line
because the "landscape of history and (I admit) its sentimentality arouse strong
emotions in my heart when I visit the places or drive the old pathways" (p. 3).
Actually, the book offers several trail rides. In its first half, Greene summarizes
Waterman Ormsby Jr.'s 1858 account of Butterfield Trail travel and discusses
variations of the route.
The rest of the book contains Greene's description of his 1990os trip. Although
he acknowledges that few visible traces of the road remain, he claims that the
experience was still "exhilarating" (p. 131). Indeed, with most of the trail
"plowed under, paved over ... or lost midst the maze of mechanical tracks creat-
ed when an oil well is drilled and sustained" (p. 131), Greene had to draw upon
his own imagination to recreate a sense of the trail. Apparently, he had an end-
less supply of that resource, and presumed that anyone with "an ounce of the
romantic in [his] bones" (p. 134) could muster the same.
This book is a verbal version of a rephotography book, wherein a photograph-
er revisits historic places and landscapes and visually demonstrates how they
have changed (or not changed). As such, Greene's enthusiasm notwithstanding,
the book is not particularly effective. Although he is a skillful writer, Greene sim-
ply could not convey as forcefully as a photograph the changes wrought by time
or, particularly in West Texas, the still-lonely desert stretches the trail crossed.
Not a single photograph graces the volume.
Scholars will find little of use here. Trail enthusiasts will enjoy the mile-by-mile
account of the Butterfield route, past and present.
University of Texas atEl Paso SHERRY SMITH
Marauders of the Indian Nations: The Bill Cook Gang and Cherokee Bill. By Glenn
Shirley. (Stillwater, Okla.: Barbed Wire Press, 1994. Pp. x+18o. Preface,
afterword, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-93526-915-0. $21.95.)
While the outlaws Bill Cook and Crawford "Cherokee Bill" Goldsby never
gained real popularity among western buffs, the name of Glenn Shirley com-
mands respect. His works are a valuable oeuvre for western historians.
Cook and Goldsby, whose early wrongs were selling whiskey and stealing hors-
es, soon turned to robbery and murder. They quickly became notorious, Cook
more so than Goldsby. In early 1895 Cook attempted to flee, but Texas Ranger
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996, periodical, 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/m1/154/?rotate=90: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.