A recent query on the Black Horse Writers forum asked where a good place would be to start researching the history of the Wild West. A few people suggested that the Time Life series of books on the West would be a good place to start.
This was a series of 26 handsome, leather bound books (27 if you include the master index) covering all aspects of the West including The Cowboys, The Miners, The Gamblers, The Mexican Wars, The Women, The Pioneers etc.
They were very popular when they were first issued but now are no longer produced by Time Life. However, they have become something of collectors items.
Following the advice of the forum I went onto Amazon and was delighted to find a lot of them from second hand dealers - and quite cheap too at about £2 or £3. I ordered The Cowboys, The Gamblers and The Forty-Niner's as I am currently writing a book set in the California Gold Rush of 1849 called Gold Fever!
The books were great! In very good condition and with a wealth of information that is invaluable to the western writer really trying to understand the context of the stories he/she is writing. I found the style informal but informative - an easy read - and unlike more 'academic' tomes, the book is liberally filled with photographs, maps, paintings and drawings which brings the whole thing to life. It's true about a picture being worth a thousand words!
Already it has given me a load of information I can include in Gold Fever which I hope will make the story more credible and interesting for the reader.
It also gave me an idea for a short story which I am currently editing called Angels and Devils which I will post on this blog once it is complete.