Publishers Weekly Review
Fleming's even-handed biography of William Cody, the "hardscrabble frontiersman who became America's legendary showman," is more than just the story of a larger-than-life figure. Fleming (The Family Romanov) weaves Cody's life into a history of the development of the West in the late 19th century and provides a clear and sensitive study of the treatment of American Indians during that era. Each chapter opens with a vivid description of a scene from the outrageously successful Wild West spectacle that Cody produced, followed by real-life events that link to-and possibly inspired-the scene. In comprehensive sidebars entitled "Panning for the Truth," Fleming examines some of the hyperbolic tales Cody spun, holding them up to other primary and secondary sources for confirmation or dismissal. Fierce battles are described in detail, and historical figures such as Sitting Bull, Custer, Annie Oakley, and even Queen Victoria come to life in Cody's incredible story, as do his relations with the loving family he was born into and the tenuous one he created. Fascinating period photos, an extensive bibliography, and online sources are included. Ages 10-14. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, Ethan Ellenberg Agency (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-Fleming captivates readers from beginning to end with her biography of William F. Cody (aka Buffalo Bill). Cody cultivated an image, and throughout the text, Fleming deftly integrates what Cody said about himself alongside existing historical evidence. She relies on photographs, show memorabilia, and drawings to emphasize the scale of Cody's shows, relay the depths to which he would go to promote himself, and demonstrate how these pieces of history may not be accurate. Cody's shortcomings are laid bare, and Fleming addresses the criticism Cody faced for how American Indians were portrayed in his shows. She details the atrocities committed by the U.S. government against many Native tribes, too. In a beginning author's note, Fleming states that, whenever possible, she has identified American Indians as members of specific tribes. She also considers how terms like Native American, Native performer, and Indian will appear in context. However, the term warrior is often used to describe specific American Indians, and in a discussion of the Congress of Rough Riders of the World, the text refers to the Russian Cossacks, Argentine gauchos, English and German cavalrymen, and Syrian riders as "colorful and exotic horsemen." In addition, librarians should be aware that the work does feature stories of violence against American Indians, specifically the retelling of Cody's scalping of Yellow Hair-a potentially upsetting scene. VERDICT An informative examination of Buffalo Bill and his legacy for the middle and high school set, and to be handled with care.-Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Fleming's (The Family Romanov, 2014) insightful biography of William Buffalo Bill Cody isn't just about the making of this legendary persona but also the myth of the Wild West. Having gained his nickname while working as a buffalo hunter, Cody continued to earn fame as a U.S. Army scout during the American Indian wars. When a dime novelist began spinning fictitious stories about Buffalo Bill, his character was established as a western action hero. To cash in on his reputation, Cody created his Wild West show, solidifying his stardom and shaping the Wild West narrative, including its quest for expansion and stereotyped Cowboys vs. Indians mythos. Fleming teases facts from the legends surrounding Cody, conceding that sometimes the truth lies somewhere in between, and presents chapters filled with period photographs as acts in the showman's life. Considerable coverage is given to the unjust treatment of Native Americans at this time; and an author's note addresses Fleming's mindful use of terminologies (many still problematic) when writing about Native American people. An illuminating look at an American legend.--Leeper, Angela Copyright 2016 Booklist