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KLIATTMention names such as Calamity Jane or Baby Doe and they might evoke today's romanticized images of 19th and early 20th-century women in the West as portrayed in films and popular fiction. However, historians and researchers delving into letters, mementos, and legal documents present a very different picture of these women, often living on the wild side of law and social custom. This volume depicts a cast of vibrant characters: women as entertainers and rodeo riders (Lucille Mulhall and Bertha Blanchett), ranchers, mine owners and social climbers (Baby Doe), homesteaders and possible cattle thieves (Cattle Kate), hard-working madams and risk-taking prostitutes, and women who inspired songs and legends (Yellow Rose of Texas and Polly Bemis). These women's stories separate the myths from reality. They reveal a less than rosy picture of life for women who worked outside the ordinary mold of housewife and helpmate in the very proper Victorian and Edwardian eras. In most cases these are not women in fancy dresses living in luxury, but rather struggling women, living rough in small towns that sprang up as mines opened, land came up for grabs, and harsh frontier justice often swamped law and order. Even Baby Doe Tabor, for all her one-time high living, struggled against prejudice and hard times. In spite of these odds and the disdain with which the average citizen regarded them, these wild women wrestled to build a life for themselves. To read about their exploits from a historian's point of view tends to destroy many of the fanciful images that films and popular writings project about these women. Nevertheless, no one can take away the "true grit" and determination of such women, pioneers andwild ones. This is a useful addition to regional collections and women's studies. (Notable Westerners series). KLIATT Codes: SA-Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Fulcrum, 229p. illus. bibliog. index., Ages 15 to adult.
— Mary T. Gerrity