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The Life and Legacy of Annie Oakley by…

The Life and Legacy of Annie Oakley

by Glenda Riley

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For the most part this was a well written biography of the Sharpshooter Annie Oakley. My problem with it was that the author decided that her "legacy" was more important than her life. She covered the actual biography but then spent a lot of time talking about her influence on women in the late 1880's until her death in 1926.

I picked up the book because I was listening to some of the songs from Annie, Get Your Gun and started wondering how much of the musical was factual and how much was fiction. Seems it was pretty much a blending with lots of fictionalization of Annie "submitting" to Frank Butler but the shooting and the time spent with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show was pretty accurate. Annie and Frank were already married before Cody entered their lives, and stayed married for over 50 years, dying within weeks of each other in 1926.

Frank realized early on that he was a good shooter and could keep pace with Annie, but that she was much more of an attraction and show person than he was, so most of their marriage he managed Annie, shooting with her at exhibitions and the like but she was the "star" of the family. They never had children other than their various dogs, so depended on each other for support all through Annie's career and multiple "retirements".

My problem with the influence on women was that it was happening when lots of women were very vocal about Womens rights and Annie really didn't spend a lot of her time on the topic. She was passionate about teaching women how to shoot and thus be able to take care of themselves and wanted to promote the healthful benefits of walking, riding or cycling but for the most part she avoided actual politics. I thought the author was stretching some to contribute a change from 1880 to 1920 to Annie. Certainly she was a role model but not a driving force.

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  bookswoman | Mar 31, 2013 |
A disappointment. For such a fascinating character, Riley manages to make Oakley seem boring. It's hard to believe that there is nothing to discovered about Oakley, but Riley takes 200+ pages to do just that. ( )
  susanamper | Dec 7, 2010 |
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