The Virginian, Owen Wister

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Publishers Weekly #1 Best Seller for 1902.

This novel was the grandfather of the Western genre and follows a natural gentleman as he is entangled with the new Wyoming state's 1890s Johnson County War - the ugly side of the consolidation of The American West. A cabal of large vested interests and a diffuse collection of small players fight for control of access rights to publicly owned common range land. Rhetoric and actions escalate and culminated in some nasty lynchings, the use of a gang of hired Texan killers (with the tacit approval of the state Governor), the murder of a small rancher, the siege of the Texans by a posse of 200, and their eventual rescue by the U.S. sixth cavalry at the orders of the president.

Published 1902. (316 Kb)