JOSEPH G. ROSA – THE WEST OF WILD BILL HICKOK – 1982
The book does not keep its
promise. You will not discover the West of Hickok because there is no real
description of it. Data and detail are only provided when they are attached to
one particular picture and the pictures are essentially centered on people. But
that does not provide us with a full coverage of the period, the region and
even the actions of the people who are laboriously stilted into immobility.
One example will be enough by
citing General, who is not really a general, Custer. He is present in the book
because he came across Hickok, but in a marginal way and his action against
Indians is definitely not clearly both explained and exposed. It is alluded to.
The same thing can be widened to Indian life, Indian rejection, Indian killings,
etc. All that is anecdotal and superficial. We could say the same thing about
the west itself, the farming, cattle raising, the economy of this west. It is
not explained, nor exposed when necessary.
The only thing then that comes out
of the book is a sketch of Hickok’s life, and interesting portraits,
photographic as well as other types of printed representations of people.
Unluckily do not believe it is in any way some press photography of real life,
events, actions, happenings or whatever. It is only the formal portraits of the
people who have dressed up for the occasion and who stand in an unnatural and
stiff way. It can only give some indication of how these people would dress on
a special occasion, maybe going to mass on Sunday, maybe going to some local
celebration like a marriage or a funeral.
In other words it does not give
us the feel, the smell, the looks even of this western life on the frontier.
This is to be regretted because there would be so much to say about the various
stages of Hickok’s life, including his period when he was a showman with or
without Buffalo Bill. Skimpy; skimpy! Like a mouse dancing on a frozen lake, Mice Lake
I guess, a ballet that could be interesting. But in the west, in Cody, in Bordeaux
, in the Dakotas or Montana
, there is so much more to say.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU