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Harry Arthur Gant lived at the intersection of the Old West and the New West.
He was a cowboy during the 1890s. He saw at first hand the hard work, the hard fun, and the occasional violence of that place and time. He knew cattle barons and horse thieves, con men and hustlers. As civilization spread through the Old West, he worked with the Wild West Shows that helped perpetuate the legends of that country. He was a guy who could get things done.
When the first film makers came around, he soon became indispensable to them, and then followed them to the New West. With a new set of skills in the silent film era, he helped perpetuate the new form of legend that came out of Hollywood. He knew stars and extras, more con men and hustlers, movers and shakers.
He tells his story with a distinctive mix of Old West plain speaking and New West sophistication, with the rough edges left on. This memoir spans two of the most fascinating parts of America's past.
Sharon E. Cathcart
on May 09, 2011 :
Harry Arthur Gant was a real cowboy who wound up in the motion picture industry as a cameraman on early Westerns (and, occasionally, as an actor). Working alongside Lon Chaney, Tom Mix and many others -- on both sides of his career --, Gant saw a great deal of change over the course of his life.
This memoir was published posthumously, laboriously transcribed from a third-carbon tissue copy by his granddaughter and great-grandson. I applaud their efforts to preserve their raconteur relative's splendid stories.
Gant's style is colloquial; he did not have much formal education beyond the eighth grade, although he was a voracious reader. I loved his stories about life on the range and in the early days of Hollywood; it was like having him sitting next to me on the porch, just relating stories of days gone by.
Fans of memoirs and Westerns alike are sure to enjoy this entertaining book.
(reviewed 62 days after purchase)