Faces of the Frontier

By Frank H. Goodyear; Book review
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By Frank H. Goodyear; Book review
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Many of the faces included in this beautifully presented and succinctly written coffee-table book are well known to history—William F. Cody, Theodore Roosevelt, John Wesley Powell, Sam Houston, Annie Oakley, and Jesse James among them. Tucked in among the familiar faces, however, are a few surprises that give depth and breadth to this compendium, this who’s who of historical Western figures.

These are the individuals who changed the course of history, but never got the glory: Alice Fletcher, an early female anthropologist and a pioneer of Native American relations; Jean Baptiste Lamy, a French archbishop, who reformed Santa Fe churches and promoted education through ministry; Nelson Miles, a U.S. military commander responsible for forcing the surrender of Sitting Bull, Joseph, and Geronimo; and others.

In total, Faces of the Frontier: Photographic Portraits from the American West, 1845-1924 is loaded with more than 120 silver prints, ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, and other forms of photography, each reproduced with amazing quality and paired with brief biographies. The book also includes several fine essays that provide insight and historical context for the changing world—and the changing West—in which these individuals lived.

Full of characters who exemplify the Western spirit—from the well-known to the obscure—Faces of the Frontier is an intimate work that makes them feel like family.