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The Colonel and Little Missie: Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and the Beginnings of Superstardom in America
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The Colonel and Little Missie: Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and the Beginnings of Superstardom in America

3.4  ·  Rating details ·  316 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
From the early 1800s to the end of his life in 1917, Buffalo Bill Cody was as famous as anyone could be. Annie Oakley was his most celebrated protegee, the 'slip of a girl' from Ohio who could (and did) outshoot anybody to become the most celebrated star of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. In this sweeping dual biography, Larry McMurtry explores the lives, the legends and ab ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Simon & Schuster
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Peter Tillman
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sw-us, history
4 stars, interesting but disjointed. The beginnings of superstardom in America.
Bookmarks Magazine

Having attained celebrity himself by popularizing the Old West in countless works of fiction, from Lonesome Dove (1986) to The Berrybender Narratives (2002-2004), Pulitzer-Prize winning McMurtry should offer more insight into the West's enduring appeal than he ever attempts to do. Although he does support the subtitle's premise that superstardom began with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, his comparisons to today's pop stars (Martha Stewart, Courtney Love) are sometimes forced. The Colonel and the

It's an interesting, if disjointed look at the life of Buffalo Bill Cody, with a good deal of history thrown in. Annie Oakley gets a bit of short shrift, IMHO, and I've noticed a lot of repetition - sometimes the same exact sentence/phrase, it seems. Still worth a listen/read if you're interested in the myth of the Wild West & how it started.
Repetitiveness and disjointedness mars an otherwise interesting and wide-ranging dual biography of Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley. The anecdotal stories of brushes with other historical characters and events livens up the story, well narrated by Michael Prichard.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was excellent. So fascinating. I'm bummed I went to the Cody Museum & Grave before I read this. I would have appreciated it so much more. Both Cody & Annie were larger than life characters that you can't help but love even all this time later.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: annie-oakley
I would've like a more chronological book. He skips around in time which bothered me. Still fun to read about Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill Cody.
Oct 23, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting take on what stardom means. McMurtry, who lived in the West as a child, is a well known chronicler of life in the West and has written extensively on the subject. According to McMurtry, Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley were the first true media stars in America. Their images, skillful blends of good press and great showmanship, embodied what the West meant to people here and abroad. Cody was the handsome hero, Annie Oakley a little lady with enough talent to outshoot any man.

Douglas Perry
Larry McMurtry is a wonderful novelist, but I continue to find his nonfiction work disappointing. His memoirs -- he just published his latest, "Hollywood" -- are relentlessly slight, breezy affairs. They read as if he dictated them while sitting on his porch sipping a glass of lemonade.

I thought "The Colonel and Little Missie," not a memoir but a dual biography of Wild Bill Cody and Annie Oakley, would be different. Alas, no. His theme is the rise of celebrity culture in modern America, a fine s
Ryan Curell
A so-called look at the beginnings of superstardom in America, McMurtry's focus on Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley is apt; however, the author distracts attention to the late nineteenth century and the closing of the West as much as he considers the titular subjects.

Yet this is not a deviation from McMurtry's nonfiction writing (that which is not autobiographical in nature, anyway); his conversational look at the Wild West shows is another chapter in his ongoing thesis about a mythical versio
Adam Watson
If you're looking for an in-depth, detailed, and chronological biography of Bill Cody or Annie Oakley, look elsewhere. The story flashes around and doubles back numerous times (I lost track of how many times McMurtry says "more of this later") which makes parts feel repetitive or simply filling pages and time. Also, half of title -- Oakley -- disappears for half of the book. On a positive note, McMurtry has an engaging style which makes this an enjoyable read, and I did learn some new facts abou ...more
Mark Valentine
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If anyone wants to read about how America became so infatuated with celebrities and their lives, begin here. McMurtry has traced how the cult of the celebrity/personality rose. At the time, it seemed facile enough. I mean, Cody took his persona and ran with it. He must have looked really good in a saddle.

This book will give you a foundation on which to appreciate how Americans are obsessed with celebrities. What was really beneficial to me was reading about how Ned Buntline contributed, even st
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I would go so far as to call this a work of non-fiction. All of the info related by the author seemed to be from vague memories he had. There are no citations of any kind and only a brief bibliography in the back of the book. The stories are amusing sometimes and annoying sometimes and painful at other times. This book was supposed to be about Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill but it was mostly about Buffalo Bill. It was supposed to make the claim that they were the first superstars bu ...more
Audacia Ray
The best parts of the book were the brief bits of analysis and thinking about the construction of American celebrity, and the ways in which Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley laid the foundation for few celebs.

However, I wish McMurtry was more critical of the ways that "Wild West" were and have been re/presented by Bill Cody and his successors, especially with respect to the role of native peoples. His sharp analysis of some aspects and utter silence on others made the book very uneven for me.
Interesting history--nice to see non-fiction from a novelist.

Funny--novelists never seem to master the more formal, academic syntax typical of non-fiction writers. As great as their ear for language may be, years of spinning yarns seem to make it impossible for a novelist to fully embrace either the language or the standards of proof required of those more prosaic writers who handle "just the facts."

Enjoyed the history and the argument about the beginnings of superstardom.
Mar 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up, because it was from the author of Lonesome Dove.
I listened to this while driving, so otherwise I might have put it down. The book is about Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley. There was much historical data that I enjoyed, but the author tended to repeat things, and it was a little dry. But, as I am enjoying learning about our countries history, this one did tell about two show people of the late 1880's.
Chi Dubinski
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McMurtry, author of “Lonesome Dove,” delivers a biography of two of the iconic figures of the American West. As entertaining as one of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows, this book has a cast of characters that are larger than life. Terrific writing, interesting subject—anyone interested in western history will love this book.
My late father, who was born in 1883, remembered until his dying day going to the Wild West Show as a boy and actually shaking the hand of Buffalo Bill. To him, Buffalo was a larger than life, almost mythic figure. In this joint biography of William Cody and his protege Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill is not so grandiloquent, but then, who could be?
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
I listened to this book and found it to be very interesting. I had hoped for a little more information on Annie Oakley because I admire her, but this was more information about Buffalo Bill. What information about Annie Oakley that was presented was good. After listening to this I understand how Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley became such big stars.
David Ward
The Colonel and Little Missie: Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and the Beginnings of Superstardom in America by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Shuster 2005)(Biography). This is a dual biography of two icons of the Wild West who became friends and partners in the era of the traveling "Wild West Show." My rating: 6/10, finished 2009.
May 17, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
It was an okay book about Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley. The only real problem I had with the book was that the author made references to current pop culture today. I as a reader can draw those parallels myself. It just came off as lazy on Larry McMurtry's part. He even mentioned Euro Disney three or four times in the book.
Found some mis-quotes and less than factual information about Cody. Having read books by Stephen Ambrose & Dee Brown, I think this one falls short in reference to some quotes and attributions. However, the wonderful juxtaposition of the two main characters is well executed by the author.
Tim Price
I've read reviews where several people found this book to be very boring. I don't know if I'd be willing to go that far. This is a very different book from Mr. McMurtry. In it he provides useful information, albeit in thumbnail fashion, of two breakthrough Americans.
Jen Winter
My children are related to Buffalo Bill on their father's side. This book was good for a quick look at the life of Bill and Annie without too much of the show getting in the way. If you are looking for anything in depth this is not the book for you.
Feb 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like the way the book was structured--I found it a bit confusing and repetitive. Nevertheless, I learned about something I haven't read much about before and enjoyed the process. It was especially interesting in what it said about historiography, and the way legends arise.
Steven Phelps
Nov 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley deserve to be more than just a quaint footnote, and McMurty makes a compelling yet simple case for their importance. His style of non-fiction is fairly casual in tone, and the book is not an exhaustive work although it is thoughtfully researched. Reccomended.
Alice (;
Jan 18, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
THE most boring book i have ever read!! if you look in the back and look at the picture of the author... HE EVEN LOOKS BORED! I only read that book for my book report i had to do in my history class. UGH!
Jul 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a history that contained some redundancy but was interesting to listen to. I don't think I would have taken the time to read it because it had to do mostly with their show business careers. It was, however, well researched.
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, gave-up
No organization whatsoever to the narrative. It's almost impossible to get a sense of these people's lives because of the way the author keeps zig-zagging through the chronology.
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Larry McMurtry is a legendary writer. He could write about the history of dirt and I would read it. And probably enjoy it.
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Larry McMurtry was born in Wichita Falls, Texas on June 3, 1936. He is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two essay collections, and more than thirty screenplays.

His first published book, Horseman, Pass By, was adapted into the film "Hud." A number of his other novels also were adapted into movies as well as a television mini-serie
More about Larry McMurtry...
“Show business imposes its own strict temporality: no matter how many CDs or DVDs we own, it would still have been better to have been there, to have seen the living performers in the richness of their being and to have participated, however briefly, in the glory of their performance.” 2 likes
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