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GURPS Old West – Cover

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Bibliography for GURPS Old West

The following are a few of the works consulted by the authors.


1897 Sears Roebuck Catalogue, edited by Fred L. Israel. Chelsea House Publishers, New York, 1968. Excellent source of equipment and prices – everything's illustrated!

The American Heritage Book of Great Adventures of the Old West, compiled by the editors of American Heritage, American Heritage Press, New York, 1969.

The American Heritage Book of Great Historic Places, by the editors of American Heritage. American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1957. Historical landmarks, towns, and buildings listed by region and state. Good source for GMs creating campaign maps.

The American Heritage Book of Indians, by the editors of American Heritage. American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., 1961. A history of American Indians from the Olmecs on.

The American Heritage Book of the Pioneer Spirit, by the editors of American Heritage. American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1959. A look at American pioneers from the pilgrims to 20th-century scientists. Includes a "Portrait of the Western Frontier" and a section on 19th-century inventors and their inventions.

The American Heritage Junior Library, by the editors of American Heritage. American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., New York. Books include: The California Gold Rush, 1961; Cowboys and Cattle Country, 1961; The Erie Canal, 1964; Great Days of the Circus, 1962; Indians of the Plains, 1960; Ironclads of the Civil War, 1964; Railroads in the Days of Steam, 1960; Steamboats on the Mississippi, 1962; Texas and the War with Mexico, 1961; Trappers and Mountain Men, 1961; and Westward on the Oregon Trail, 1962.

The American West, by Dee Brown. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1994.

The American West: The Pictorial Epic of a Continent, by Lucius Beebe & Charles Clegg. Bonanza Books, New York, 1955, reprinted 1989. A delightful collection of more than 1,000 illustrations, engravings, and photographs.

And Die in the West, by Paula Mitchell Marks. William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1989. The story of the O.K. Corral gunfight.

Apaches: A History and Culture Portrait, by James L. Haley.

Atlas of the North American Indian, by Carl Waldman. Facts on File Publications, New York, 1985. Information on ancient civilizations, Indian lifeways, Indians wars, and Native Americans today.

The Book of the American West, Jay Monaghan, Editor-In-Chief. Julian Messner, Inc., New York, 1963. Includes chapters on transportation, treasures, law (or lack thereof), guns, and wildlife.

By the Power of Their Dreams: Songs, Prayers & Sacred Shields of the Plains Indians, by Maureen E. Mansell. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1994.

Chronicle of America, John W. Kirshon, Editor-in-Chief. Chronicle Books, NY, 1989.

The Colorful Story of the American West, by Royal B. Hassrick. Octopus Books Limited, London, 1975.

The Comanches, Lords of the South Plains, by Ernest Wallace & E. Adamson Hoebel. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Nebraska, 1952.

Cowboys and the Wild West: An A-Z Guide from the Chisholm Trail to the Silver Screen, by Don Cusic. Facts on File Inc., NY, 1994.

A Concise Study Guide to the American Frontier, by Nelson Klose. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1964. Succinct history text – includes details GMs can use, and points to further sources.

A Dictionary of the Old West, by Peter Watts. Promontory, 1977. An illustrated dictionary of westernisms and western equipment.

The Encyclopedia of American Crime, by Carl Sifakis. Facts on File, Inc., NY, 1982.

Frontier Ways: Sketches of Life in the Old West, by Edward Everett Dale. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX, 1959. Cowboy cookery, teaching on the Prairie, frontier medical practices, and more.

The Fur Trade of the American West, 1807-1840, by David J. Wishart. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1979.

Great Hollywood Westerns, by Ted Sennett. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, 1990.

The Great Range Wars: Violence on the Grasslands, by Harry Sinclair Drago. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 1970.

Gun Digest Book of Holsters and other Gun Leather, by Roger Combs. DBI, 1983.

Guns of the American West, by Joseph G. Rosa. New Orchard Editions Ltd., Dorset, UK, 1988.

Historical Atlas of the Outlaw West, by Richard Patterson. Johnson Books, Boulder, Co, 1985.

A History of Currency in the United States, by A. Barton Hepburn. First edition published by The Macmillan Co., New York, 1903; reprinted by Augustus M. Kelley, Publishers, New York, 1967.

A History of Travel in America, by Seymour Dunbar. The Bobbs-Merrill Co., Indianapolis, 1915. Volumes I-IV.

The Horseman's Encyclopedia, by Margaret Cabell Self. A. S. Barnes and Company, 1946.

The Look of the Old West, by Foster-Harris. The Viking Press, New York, 1955. Details and illustrations of everyday items from pistols to pants buttons.

The Navajo Indians, by Dane Coolidge and Mary Roberts Coolidge. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1930.

The Old West, by the editors of Time-Life Books. Prentice Hall Press, New York, 1990. An excellent general history, from the Early Frontiers to the Final Flourishes.

The Old West series by the editors of Time-Life Books. Time-Life Books, New York. Books include: The Cowboys, 1973; The Gamblers, 1978; The Gunfighters, 1974 (text by Paul Trachtmann); and The Indians, 1973 (text by Benjamin Capps). Excellent sourcebooks for each character type, including photos of weapons, clothing, locales, and more.

The Prairie Traveler, a Hand-Book for Overland Expeditions, with Maps, Illustrations, and Itineraries of the Principal Routes Between the Mississippi and the Pacific, by Randolph B. Marcy, Captain U.S. Army: published by authority of the War Department. Harper & Brothers, Publishers, New York, 1859. The perfect source for a "Westward, Ho!" campaign.

The Quarter Horse, by Walter D. Osborne. Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1967 by Patricia H. Johnson.

Railroad Maps of North America: The First Hundred Years, by Andrew Modelski. Bonanza, 1987. Maps and authentic railroad propaganda.

The Rocky Mountains: A Guide to the Inns of Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, by Terry Berger. Holt, 1983. A valuable resource for visualizing the Old West. Also in this series are The Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest, The Southwest, California, and The Mississippi.

Seven Arrows, by Hyemeyohsts Storm. Ballantine Books, New York, 1972. Presents Plains Indian tales in a context of the story of an Indian brave and his village. Excellent source for an all-Indian campaign.

The Sioux: Life and Customs of a Warrior Society, by Royal B. Hassrick. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK, 1964. Includes information on tribal organization, customs, hunting, and the vision quest.

The Story of English, by Robert McCrum, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil. The Viking Press, New York, 1986. Includes a chapter on language and idioms of the Old West.

The Story of the Frontier, by Everett Dick. Tudor Publishing Company, New York. 1941 by D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc. Excellent source for everyday details for nearly every character type presented in GURPS Old West.

Tales from the American Frontier, Edited, told and retold by Richard Erdoes. Pantheon Books, NY, 1991.

There Must Be a Lone Ranger, by Jenni Calder. Hamish Hamilton Ltd., London, 1974.

A Treasury of American Folklore, edited by B.A. Botkin. Crown Publishers, New York, 1944. Stories, ballads, and traditions of the Old West and America – excellent source of tall tales and anecdotes.

Weapons Through the Ages, by William Reid. Crescent Books, 1976. Includes diagrams and illustrations of unusual 19th-century weapons.

The Winning of the Far West, by Robert McNutt McElroy. G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1914. Good source of information on the territorial wars.

The World of the American Indian, by the National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C., 1974.


Any good general bookstore will have a Western selection. Well-known authors include Luke Short, Ernest Haycox, Zane Grey, Louis L'Amour, and Gordon Shirreff.

The Haunted Mesa, by Louis L'Amour. Bantam Books, New York, 1987. Set in the 20th century, it includes Indian magic, the Anasazi, and a sipapu.

How the West Was Won, by Louis L'Amour. Bantam Books, New York, 1962. Based on the original film version.

The Lone Star Ranger, by Zane Grey. Pocket Books, New York. 1915 by Zane Grey; 1942 by Lina Elise Grey. An innocent man is blamed for all the unsolved crimes in the territory. A Texas Ranger gives him a chance to clear his name.

The Outlaws, edited by Bill Pronzini & Martin H. Greenberg. Fawcett Gold Medal, New York, 1984. Anthology of short stories, part of "The Best of the West" series.

The Tales of Alvin Maker, by Orson Scott Card. Includes Seventh Son, Red Prophet, Prentice Alvin, Alvin Journeyman, Heartfire and The Crystal City. An American frontier where history isn't quite what one expects, and hexes and Indian magic work.


Most of the movies directed by John Ford or Fritz Lang – or starring Randolph Scott, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, John Wayne, or Clint Eastwood – are bound to be good. The following are a few of the Westerns the authors watched – and liked.

Big Jake, 1971, starring John Wayne. Wonderful piece about an old-time cowboy trying to rescue his kidnapped grandson.

Blazing Saddles, 1974, starring Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder. Mel Brooks, director. One of the best parodies ever!

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. George Roy Hill, director. Train robbers pursued by detectives flee to South America.

The Cheyenne Social Club, 1970, starring James Stewart and Henry Fonda. A cowboy inherits his brother's "profitable business" – which turns out to be a brothel.

Fort Apache, 1948, starring John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Shirley Temple. John Ford, director. A cavalry Western involving a futile charge into an ambush. Part of what is considered the classic "John Ford Cavalry Trilogy" with Rio Grande and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, 1967, starring Clint Eastwood. Sergio Leone, director. Third in the trilogy of the Man with No Name, following A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More.

High Noon, 1952, starring Gary Cooper. Fred Zinnemann, director. A sheriff finds himself alone, facing a man sworn to kill him, but his Quaker wife wants him to leave town without fighting.

How the West was Won, 1963, starring practically every Western star and directed by Henry Hathaway, John Ford, and George Marshall. The adventures of a pioneer family through three generations.

Little Big Man, 1970, starring Dustin Hoffman and Chief Dan George. Arthur Penn, director. A boy kidnapped by the Sioux alternates between living with his tribe and life as a white man.

The Magnificent Seven, 1957, starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. John Sturges, director. Seven gunfighters, each with a different motive, defend a Mexican village from bandits. Based on Kurosawa's Seven Samurai.

The Searchers, 1956, starring John Wayne. John Ford, director. A five-year search for girls abducted by Indians.

The Shootist, John Wayne. Don Siegel, director. Professional gunfighter tries in vain to die in peace.

True Grit, 1969, and sequel Rooster Cogburn, 1975, starring John Wayne. The adventures of an "over-the-hill" Marshall.

Unforgiven, 1992, starring and directed by Clint Eastwood. Former outlaws and hired guns hunt down two cowboys who disfigured a prostitute.

Union Pacific, 1939, starring Joel McCrea. Cecil B. DeMille, director. A Union Pacific troubleshooter foils the plots of the rival Central Pacific.

Western Union, 1941, starring Randolph Scott. Fritz Lang, director. A former outlaw joins the formidable task of laying telegraph lines across the West.

And all those delightfully bad "spaghetti" Westerns!

TV Shows

Most of these shows are available 24 hours a day, thanks to the miracle of cable TV!

The Barbary Coast, starring William Shatner – a rather lighthearted action-adventure.

Big Valley, the trials and tribulations of the Filthy Rich Barclay family.

Bonanza, in which the all-male Cartwright family runs the Ponderosa ranch near Virginia City, NV. Has nothing to do with ranching.

Bordertown, about a town that straddles the U.S.-Canadian border and has both a U.S. marshall and a Mountie.

Gunsmoke, Marshall Matt Dillon keeps law in Dodge City with the help of deputies Chester, Newly, and Festus.

Guns of Paradise, a retired gunfighter raises his sister's kids.

Hondo, about an army scout who's the adopted son of the Apache chief Victorio.

How the West Was Won, based on the movie (see above).

Maverick, chronicles the adventures of a charismatic gambler (James Garner).

Rifleman, in which a widowed gunfighter-turned-rancher raises his son.

Wagon Train, wending its endless way West.

The Wild, Wild West, where two Secret Service agents with a private train and lots of fun gadgets foil evil villains' fantastic plots in a Western setting.

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