What we know of Buffalo Bill Cody (1846–1917) is more myth than man. Yet the stage persona that took audiences by storm was based on the very real encounters of William F. Cody with the American West. This autobiography, infused with the drama of dime novels and stage melodramas that would transform the author into an American icon, recounts a boy’s move to the Kansas territory, where his father hoped to homestead, and his subsequent life on the frontier, following his career from trapper to buffalo hunter to Army scout, guide, and Indian fighter.
Written when Cody was thirty-three years old, this life story captures both the hard reality of frontier life and the sensational image to which a boy of the time might aspire: the Indian fights, buffalo hunting, and Pony Express escapades that popular history contributed to the myth-making of Buffalo Bill. It is this movement between the personal and the mythic, plain facts and tall tales, William F. Cody and Buffalo Bill, that gives this autobiography its fascination and its power.
Based on the original 1879 edition, this volume provides a new introduction, historical materials, and twenty-six additional images. It reveals both the William F. Cody of personal history and the Buffalo Bill of American mythology—and, finally, the curious reality that partakes of both.