Long the dominant icon embodying the spirit of America's frontier past, the image of the cowboy no longer stands alone as the ultimate symbol of independence and self-reliance. The great canvas of the western landscape-in art, books, film-is today shared by the figures called "Mountain Men." They were the trappers of the Rocky Mountain fur trade in the years following Lewis and Clark's Expedition of 1804-1806. With their bold journeys peaking, during the period of 1830-1840, they were the first white men to enter the vast wilderness reaches of the Rockies in search of beaver "plews," as the skins were called. They feasted on the abundant buffalo, elk and other game, while living the ultimate free-spirited wilderness life. Often they paid the ultimate price for their ventures under the arrows, tomahawks, and knives of those native Americans whose lands they had entered.
Tales of the Mountain Men, presents in one book many of the most engaging and revealing portraits of mountain men ever written. Ranging from nonfiction classics like Bernard DeVoto's Across the Wide Missouri through fiction from such acclaimed novels as A. B. Guthrie Jr.'s The Big Sky, this collection is destined to be well appreciated by the huge and dedicated audience fascinated by mountain man lore and legend. These readers include many who today participate in reenactments of the mountain man "Rendezvous," with colorful costumes and competitions of traditional skills with authentic guns, knives, and tools.
No book exists today with such a diverse and engaging collection of mountain man literature. For an already-large and still-growing audience, Tales of the Mountain Men will be a valued extension of their interest in the mountain man as a compelling and uniquely American figure.