suggested reading list

 Reading List - Kansas City, Gateway to the West



This one is tough. We jump all over the place and cover so many eras, as well as topics, that the reading list is quite diverse. Let’s begin with the best tour guide book I’ve ever seen.

Simmons, Marc, Following the Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, Ancient City Press, 1986.  Marc Simmons is the master of the Santa Fe Trail and the history of the Southwest. His guide book is the perfect example of how to do it right. It covers, in broad sweeps, many of the places we go and puts a perspective on our story.

Settle, William A., Jesse James Was His Name, Lincoln and London, University of Nebraska Press, 1977. 

Hughes, J. Patrick, Fort Leavenworth: Gateway to the West, Topeka, KS, Kansas State Historical Society, 2000.  We will be seeing many outstanding museums during this assembly, but the one that speaks to our purpose best is Fort Leavenworth’s Frontier Army Museum. This museum preserves and protects artifacts that tell the story of the Frontier Army from 1804 to 1916. Perfect! This book is a volume in the Kansas Forts series, published by the Kansas State Historical Society. Easy reading and well illustrated. 

Settle, Raymond & Mary Lund Settle, Saddle & Spurs: The Pony express Saga, Lincoln and London, University of Nebraska Press, 1972.

Corbett, Christopher, Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express, New York, Broadway Books, 2003. Both of these books give a well-rounded view of one of America’s most legendary institutions – the Pony Express. The book by the Settles is perhaps more scholarly, the book by Corbett is better reading. Both are great additions to your library.

Majors, Alexander, Seventy Years on the Frontier, NP, Rand McNally, 1893. Long considered one of the great classics of western history, Majors book covers far more than our topic. One of the three founders of the Pony Express, Majors left a beautiful home,  now a museum, which we will visit. The introduction to this book was written by his good friend, William (Buffalo Bill) Cody. If you have a Kindle, buy this for $.99, no shipping! If you don’t, why not?

On the grounds of the incredible Pattee House Museum, stands the home that Jesse James was murdered in. Many artifacts are found here and the bullet hole is clearly visible near the picture Jesse was hanging when he was shot. Though books about Jesse James abound, my pick is this  one. It gives a balanced account (a very difficult task) of a man usually depicted as a blood crazed murderer or a Robin Hood figure. You decide. The Pattee house defies description. A four story hotel, completed in 1858, it is now an experience – I know no other way to describe it. From 1860 to 1861, it housed the headquarters of the Pony Express. Here you can now climb aboard an 1860 train, ride the vintage “wild thing” carousel, walk down a street in Old Saint Joe and even have a root beer in a wild west saloon – all inside the Pattee House. Selected as one of the 10 best Western Museums by True West Magazine, this is one experience you will treasure. 

Tuchman, Barbara W., The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I, New York, Dell, 1963. 

Marshall, S.L.A., American Heritage History of World War I, American Heritage, 2014.  Rather like mountain climbing, we are going to the National World War I Museum because it is there! It would criminal to miss this outstanding site. There are countless books on World War I, but these two stand out. Be sure to check used copies on Amazon. You’ll be surprised. 

Hawley, Greg, Treasure in a Cornfield: The Discovery & Excavation of the Steamboat Arabia, NP.  The Steamboat Arabia has all the mystique of the Steamboat Bertrand, north of Omaha, but it has one very large advantage – the 220 tons of cargo was still there when it was unearthed. Found over a half mile from the river and some 45 feet underground, The Arabia did not yield her treasures without a fight. Here is the story of that incredible find and the invaluable cargo recovered from its hold.

Remember: Check both Amazon and Abebooks. Most of these books can be found used for a fraction of their original cost. That’s www.amazon.com and www.abebooks.com