Candace Fleming's compelling portrait balances the showman's promotional "biography" (which started in his early career) against the historical record, with lots of images to bring the era to life. As she looks at a violent, eventful period through the lens of one man's career, there's adventure, humor, bluster, and heartbreaking tragedy. Presenting Buffalo Bill offers 21st century readers much to consider as they learn more about events and issues that still fuel bitter conflict today.
Author Fleming offers plenty of opportunity to consider the grotesque absurdity of the show-biz Wild West and reality, as in this much-documented scene, describing the death of Sitting Bull:
"Four weeks later, Mc Laughlin attempted to arrest Sitting Bull during an early morning raid on his cabin. The chief's followers resisted.
"Hearing the shots, Sitting Bull's horse -- the gray pony Bill had given him -- thought it was the cue for his Wild West act. As bullets whizzed around him, the riderless pony went through his routine, high-stepping to the left and right, prancing in a circle.
"Sitting Bull and eight of his followers fell to the ground, dead.
"And the gray pony, coming to the end of his routine, stood in the middle of (the) carnage and raised one hoof in the air."