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Calamity Jane: Her Life and Her Legend

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Who was Calamity Jane? Simply a legend created by a popular novelist? Or did Calamity Jane, born Martha Jane Cannary, really live the life she claimed? Doris Faber sorts out fact from fiction to tell the true story of a remarkable American woman who was part of the legend that celebrated the freedom and adventure of the West.

Examines the life of the Wild West heroine who was transformed into a legendary figure in the public mind. ...

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Overview

Who was Calamity Jane? Simply a legend created by a popular novelist? Or did Calamity Jane, born Martha Jane Cannary, really live the life she claimed? Doris Faber sorts out fact from fiction to tell the true story of a remarkable American woman who was part of the legend that celebrated the freedom and adventure of the West.

Examines the life of the Wild West heroine who was transformed into a legendary figure in the public mind.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Faber's mingling of biography, history, and folklore to tell her story is itself an intriguing commentary on how legends are made." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Faber's ( Eleanor Roosevelt ) biography of the famed ``Calamity Jane'' follows two threads. Martha Cannary (1852-1903) drove bull teams and traveled extensively around the West, but in her later years was also an alcoholic who survived only with the help of friends. Calamity Jane was a larger-than-life six-gun-shooting frontierswoman, and Faber skillfully interweaves snippets from the life of the real woman with an exploration of the legend that grew up around her, nourished in large part by Ned Wheeler's dime novels. The contrast between Cannary's unconventional but ultimately tragic life and the undying myth attached to her illuminates not only the real lives of women in the 19th-century West but also the American impulse to idealize the frontier, a romantic tendency which Faber relates to ``Europe's legends about medieval knights in armor.'' Period prints and photographs are informative and attractive; some imaginative choices expand on related facts mentioned in the text. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-- Faber separates the facts from the myths about the life of Martha Jane Cannary, emphasizing that as Calamity Jane she was able to break away from the traditional female roles of the late 1800s. She shows readers how the myths about Jane were propagated through dime novels, and had little basis in reality. The author presents the few known facts about Cannary's life in a mostly objective manner, touching on some of the more unsavory aspects, such as her severe alcoholism and her long string of ``husbands,'' without going into detail. The book is well researched. However, Faber fails to capture much of the woman's personality or motivation and, as a result, it is disappointing. It is also very brief, with relatively little text and many illustrations on only 53 pages of narrative. In spite of Faber's thesis that Jane was an early emancipated woman, the reality was that she was virtually ruled by her alcoholism and was frequently exploited by men. The numerous black-and-white photos, reproductions, and illustrations are clear, but most pertain to Jane's times rather than specifically to her or her life. Most of the books on the suggested reading list are very old. Since there is not much of real interest in this book, most libraries will have little use for it. --Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School,
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395865392
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 8/28/1997
  • Pages: 80
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 1340L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.19 (d)

Table of Contents

Who Was She? 1
Pony Girl 5
All Over the Map 11
Scout for General Custer 19
Calamity's Husbands 27
The Contributions of Ned Wheeler 35
Her Own Story 41
The Legend Lives On 49
Sources 55
Suggested Further Readings 57
Acknowledgments 59
Index 61
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