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The Gentle Tamers: Women of the Old Wild West

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  354 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
A fascinating history of women on America’s western frontier by the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

Popular culture has taught us to picture the Old West as a land of men, whether it’s the lone hero on horseback or crowds of card players in a rough-and-tumble saloon. But the taming of the frontier involved plenty of women, too—and thi
ebook, 308 pages
Published October 23rd 2012 by Open Road Media (first published 1958)
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MaryEllen Clark I just finished this book - it is not as well written as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and it is not inclusive as you wish. But it was written in…moreI just finished this book - it is not as well written as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and it is not inclusive as you wish. But it was written in 1958. The title is misleading, its a catalogue of the various women who went out west - why they went, what their experience and hardships were and some amazing information you weren't taught in school. Its not a difficult or lengthy read. (less)
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Apr 16, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2009, 19thc
This was an enjoyable read and very informative. However, there was something about the tone of the writing at times that was a little too "woman as delicate flowers" for my taste. The title seems slightly condescending to me -- women as gentle creatures, angels of the household, rather than being capable of nursing a baby, chopping wood and hogtying a calf. It seems like the title picks up too well on 19th-century/Victorian expectations of gender, when women in the West basically turned those o ...more
Kristi Thielen
Apr 25, 2016 Kristi Thielen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Here's an example of how you perceive things so differently, years later when you've read more deeply in a book's subject area.

I first read Brown's book in the late 1980s, unaware of its copyright date of 1958. I thought at the time that the book was illuminating.

In 2004-2005, I began reading much more about women of the west, for a play that I would produce soon thereafter. I've since read even more, in order to write museum exhibits and a presentation that I give in public events. These book
Enni Gregas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'd read Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and loved it, but I found this a bit disappointing. Whilst very interesting, it's overly-simplistic, poorly referenced, and somewhat patronising and sexist. It's also very fragmented, it jumps around in time and place constantly, with no real thematic pattern. I'd probably recommend it to teenagers but not adults.
susan moore
Feb 26, 2017 susan moore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book! It took a look at all types of women and their roles as they settle the west. It in just focus on Prairie women, or schoolmarms, it focused on women. The good, the bad,The clever, the con women, all of them. I really enjoyed this book.
Barb Terpstra
Jul 18, 2014 Barb Terpstra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give this book four starts for Chapter 13, Wyoming Tea Party.

While the entire book was interesting, particularly as how the Westward movement of pioneer men and women liberated women in unexpected ways, the Wyoming chapter really brings it home.

Esther Morris, described as a self-reliant "55 year old lady of great charm, who enjoyed fierce battles and was accustomed to winning them", had a tea party on September 2, 1869. Esther invited 20 influential citizens to her party. Among her guests, two
Jul 18, 2012 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western-history
I read this book twice. The first time was years ago and it did not impress me a lot. (That says more about me than it says about the book.) Subsequently I read "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" by Isabella Bird. Isabella's opinion and experience of western men's "respect for a lady" almost seemed like she was wearing rose colored glasses. Then I read "The Gentle Tamers" again. The two books complement each other. Now I can see that Dee Brown was developing a theme in his book. The theme is ...more
Jul 11, 2016 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
I do not remember who gave this book to me, but I did like it. It is non-fiction and divided into a good number of chapters about the various women and the hardships they had to go through and how many times they were better able to adapt to the West then the men. My favorite selections were those about Elizabeth and George Custer! They had an interesting life and did love each other, tho' he had many women wanting to be with him! Nothing like the General I have read about.

Makes me happy I was n
I was close to rating this book 2 stars. I think 2.5 stars appropriate (get those half stars Goodreads!). While interesting, it lacks substance. It really is a bunch of individual stories that do not amount to a cohesive whole. If I wrote a short biography on 10 different members of my community, it would not necessarily be a good representation of my community as a whole, and I think that is what we have here. Dee Brown knocked it out of the park with "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee". "The Gentl ...more
Dec 13, 2016 Sjervey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly readable account of the role f women in shaping the West. From the different ways in which they reached the West, to the different strengths and adaptations they brought, to the cultivating influence on the men who often just wanted a chance to be in the room with a woman, to the adoption of women's suffrage and their rights to hold office and be impaneled on juries in Wyoming, this exhaustive review provides wonderful insight into the gentile, if not always gentle, impact of women. B ...more
Jean Marie
Jan 23, 2017 Jean Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, it took a while but it was worth it. I enjoy history and this book is full of it. It tells the many stories of the women of the Old West, their trials, their errors and their suffering. In reading the story, I learned how the covered wagons were packed and how the women dealt with the close quarters of living and traveling in one. There were stories of Army wives along with dancehall girls and prostitutes. Soddies, log cabins , blankets under the wagons. Insects, snakes, mice and every ima ...more
Jul 16, 2015 Sarada rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engaging and readable survey of the topic, covering a wide geographic era and lengthy period of time, though the organization of the chapters and topics was a little haphazard. The tone of the author (writing in the 1950s) is at times rather old-fashioned itself, and a little condescending at times. The standout chapter for me was about women winning the right to vote in 1869 in Wyoming. A fascinating, in-depth treatment of a subject about which I knew little going in. I found myself looking up ...more
Ally Van den herik
Fascinating look into life as a women in the Old West

I recommend this book for both men and women, since it gives a unique perspective of life in the western states in the early to late nineteenth century and keeps your attention from chapter to chapter. Well-researched and full of interesting stories of the variety of women who traveled westward during that challenging time, this book makes it clear that descendants of these early settlers should be grateful for the taming of the West accomplis
Centipedes, no bathrooms, long weary travels, and scary circumstances, oh my! While there are good and interesting descriptions of history in this book, it comes across as 'how women conquered despite the horrible circumstances, so be proud of them!' Which in turn I think is a disservice to men and women. There's no need to be so cheerleaders or surprised that women managed out West just as men did. 16 pages of black and white photos.
Kathi Mckeown
I was actually between a 3 and a 4. Some interesting stuff. My problem with the book is that there were too many quotes, not enough real writing. There were some parts where I felt information was lacking, but that could be that the information is not out there. A couple of sections dragged on and on.
Sep 28, 2011 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" and had expectations for this book which weren't maybe that was the problem for me. Dee Brown divides the chapters by various categories of women including ladies "of easy virtues" and "schoolmars and maternal forces." The information has some very interesting sections, but just didn't hold together for me.
Terri Weitze
This is an okay book; probably good for a teen who is interested in this part of US history. Not a lot of depth (not surprising, since this is such a huge subject and the book tries to cover a fairly long time span); but a nice overview of women and the westward movement. Except for a teensy bit on Native American women, this book deals solely with white women; which is another disappointment.
Mar 08, 2015 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, Enlightening Read!

Dee Brown may not have won any prizes with this book, like he did with his classic Western tale, but this one is tops! Learned more about the women who tamed the West, and the men in it, than ever before. Fun. Interesting. Made me proud to be one of their descendants. Might explain why I went North to Alaska as a young woman, and never regretted a day!
Marguerite Woodward
Lots of twists and turn. I laughed and smiled as I read this book. This book is very informative concerning the women that lived in The American Old Wild West era/period on what they endured and how they lived their every day lives.
Mar 09, 2015 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Woman's influence in the western

Sometimes a great factual story is found among hidden treasures . That is how I would classify this book. The history of women and their contributions will appeal t.American history enthusiast s.
Aug 30, 2012 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this gem in a used book store, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Filled with factual anecdotes about women who settled the American West, this is one I will keep on my bookshelf for further reference. Fascinating stuff!
Apr 21, 2015 Jeanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting subject, but a little disjointed. Lots of short stories of women who conquered the west under unimaginable hardships. The chapter on Wyoming and women's right to vote was the most interesting.
Jul 01, 2015 Hayley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nope. I'm out.
This disjointed "history" of women in the Wild West is ridiculous and insulting. I've struggled through the first 75 pages to "learn" that many of these women wore pretty bonnets, didn't know how to cook, and were loved by the men who kidnapped and raped them.
American women's history
Dec 21, 2016 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some very interesting details are in this book that I've never encountered anywhere else. About halfway through the information became more mundane.
Carol Callahan

Interesting history that was new to me.I would have enjoyed more of a story in depth and fewer abbreviated stories . However it may be all that is available on the characters
Lori Nemitz
Read between January & June 1984.

Original notes on book from 1984: Good book. Lots of history.
Mar 17, 2015 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting bit of previously unwritten history of frontier women and their civilizing effects on frontier men. Written by the author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, but not nearly as great.
Linda Callahan
Dec 19, 2016 Linda Callahan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting book with many details.
Dec 11, 2013 Connie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Did not realize what women did in settling the old west. I always thought of the women you saw in TV of western movies. We women did a lot of important things.
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Dorris Alexander “Dee” Brown (1908–2002) was a celebrated author of both fiction and nonfiction, whose classic study Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is widely credited with exposing the systematic destruction of American Indian tribes to a world audience. Brown was born in Louisiana and grew up in Arkansas. He worked as a reporter and a printer before enrolling at Arkansas State Teachers College, wh ...more
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“Women in the West who insisted on wearing the full-skirted modes of the nineteenth century—including the hoop-skirt, the bustle, and Mother Hubbards—fought a continual battle against a hostile environment. The fact that flowing yards of silk and satin eventually won out over buckskin and rawhide is only one more confirmation of the theory that woman’s vanity can conquer all, any place and any time.” 3 likes
“A bonnet costs twenty dollars, and implies a shawl and gown to match. A bonnet to one wife, with shawl and gown to match, implies the like to every other wife.” The man paused, shook his head ruefully and concluded: “This taste for female finery is breaking up our Mormon homes. Brigham Young may soon be the only man in Salt Lake City rich enough to clothe a dozen wives.”28” 1 likes
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