From Prairie to Palace: The Lost Biography of Bufflao Bill
Introduction by Jason Berger
Edited by Tim Connor
In 1893, John M. Burke wrote a biography of Gen. William F. Cody (see photo at right) titled, Buffalo Bill from Prairie to Palace. The book wasn’t the first or last biography of the famous cowboy-turned-showman, but it was the first book-length biography written by a public relations practitioner. Burke was Cody’s promotions manager and press agent (see picture on page 6).
Although historians credit Burke with turning Cody into the legendary "Buffalo Bill," the book Burke wrote has often been ignored or overlooked by historians of the "Wild West." In fact, Public Relations Scholar Jason Berger has found that only one of four major biographies about Cody cites Burke’s book.
Dr. Berger speculates that Burke’s book has been overlooked partly because the original has not been widely available. Indeed, a survey of major public libraries in the United States has found that only a handful have a copy, and many of those copies are too fragile for public use.
This reprint, which also includes two news stories published about the Wild West show in 1895, is offered to help remedy that shortage. In the "Introduction," Dr. Berger points out that Burke—although controversial and often accused of distorting facts—was a genius when it came to marketing and public relations. As such, this book is useful not just to historians, but also to public relations practitioners and student of popular culture, who are still trying to understand the "Buffalo Bill phenomenon" and its impact on field of public relations. (Cover and back page photographs courtesy of the online repository at the Library of Congress.)
220 pages / paperback / 6 x 9 format / 12 illustrations / Summer 2005 / $29.95 / Includes CIP data and index / ISBN: 0-922993-21-1