Books by Nancy Plain

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“This Strange Wilderness” is a
Western Writers of America
Spur Award Winner!

The Life and Art of John James Audubon

Birds were “the objects of my greatest delight,” wrote John James Audubon (1785–1851), founder of modern ornithology and one of the world’s greatest bird painters. His masterpiece, The Birds of America depicts almost five hundred North American bird species, each image—lifelike and life size—rendered in vibrant color. Audubon was also an explorer, a woodsman, a hunter, an entertaining and prolific writer, and an energetic self-promoter. Through talent and dogged determination, he rose from backwoods obscurity to international fame.

In This Strange Wilderness, award-winning author Nancy Plain brings together the amazing story of this American icon’s career and the beautiful images that are his legacy. Before Audubon, no one had seen, drawn, or written so much about the animals of this largely uncharted young country. Aware that the wilderness and its wildlife were changing even as he watched, Audubon remained committed almost to the end of his life “to search out the things which have been hidden since the creation of this wondrous world.” This Strange Wilderness details his art and writing, transporting the reader back to the frontiers of early nineteenth-century America. 

“Light on the Prairie” is a
Western Writers of America
Spur Award Winner!

Solomon D. Butcher, Photographer of Nebraska’s Pioneer Days

Once President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act of 1862, which granted 160 acres of free land to anyone with the grit to farm it for five years, the rush to the Great Plains was on. Solomon D. Butcher was there to document it, amassing more than three thousand photographs and compiling the most complete record of the sod house era ever made. Butcher (1856–1927) staked his claim on the plains in 1880. He didn’t like farming, but he found another way to thrive. He had learned the art of photography as a teenager, and he began taking pictures of his friends and neighbors. Butcher noticed how fast the vast land was “settling up,” so he formed the plan that would become his life’s work—to record the frontier days in words and images. Alongside sixty-two of Butcher’s iconic photographs, Light on the Prairie conveys the irrepressible spirit of a man whose passion would give us a firsthand look at the men and women who settled the Great Plains. Like his subjects, Butcher was a pioneer, even though he held a camera more often than a plow.

“With One Sky Above Us” is a
Western Writers of America
Spur Award Winner!

The Story of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians

CHIEF JOSEPH’S BAND of Nez Perce Indians lived in Oregon’s green and beautiful Wallowa Valley. His people loved their ancient home; they were grateful for their land and everything that lived on it. As one Nez Perce warrior said, “I belong to the land out of which I came. The earth is my mother.” But when whites began to settle in Nez Perce country, Joseph knew that his homeland and the ways of his tribe were in danger. He vowed to his dying father that he would guard his “beautiful valley of winding waters” with his life. Learn how Chief Joseph led his people in their heroic fight for freedom. And find out if he kept the sacred promise he had made to his father and to the Nez Perce families he’d sworn to protect.

“Sagebrush and Paintbrush” is a
Western Writers of America
Spur Award Winner!

The Story of Charlie Russell, the Cowboy Artist

It seemed that Charlie Russell could draw or paint anything. Wherever he went, his pencils and paints went with him. His cowboy friends recognized their faces in his pictures, which he dashed off on scraps of paper, bits of wood, even the lining of someone’s hat. This habit of sketching life on the range would earn Charlie the nickname the “Cowboy Artist”, and he would become famous throughout the country. In this book you’ll read about Charlie Russell and how he lived his dream and told the story of the Old West through his art.