The real achievements of William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody as a plainsman, hunter, scout, and Indian fighter have tended to be obscured by his fame as a showman. From its opening performance in 1883, Buffalo Bill's Wild West (it was never advertised as a show or circus) enthralled audiences in America and Europe, urchins and crowned heads alike; and probably no one man did more to establish and ro-manticize the tradition of the old West of cowboy and Indian. Because he personified this tradition, Cody inspired an ocean of literature--dime novels, stories, melodramas, allegedly true accounts of his exploits--which tarnished the credibility of his legend even as it increased his renown.
This Bison Books edition is the first complete reprinting of the original autobiography since it was published in 1879. It covers the years from Cody's birth in 1846 until his thirty-fourth year--the years during which he grew up on the plains, worked for Russell, Majors & Waddell, rode the Pony Express, went on fourteen expeditions against the Indians, and participated in fifteen Indian fights--the years that underpin the legend of Buffalo Bill and earned him the status of an authentic American Hero.