The Late 19th Century — 1850-1900
My work with GDW's Space: 1889 roleplaying game (now available in reprinted editions) allowed me to delve deeply into the period after the American Civil War — the Old West, the Indian Wars, opening (and closing) the Frontier. Overseas, it was a period of colonialism, in which the Americans got off to a late start. Remember that I get a kickback from Amazon-dot-com for everything you buy through the links below, and it doesn't cost you a penny extra! Clicking on a link opens a new window.
Like most miniatures gamers, I tend to focus on the weapons of a given era, and the Old West is filled with archetypes (firearms and otherwise) — guns and gunfighters are only a small part of the whole, but an important one. I played many enjoyable "skirmish" games, including cavalry/indian firefights, a "Lincoln County War" type campaign, and numerous gunfight free-for-alls set in the little Arizona town of San Squalido. We used Boot Hill, and other (now out-of-print) skirmish rules sets, and some home-grown adaptations, and had many entertaining hours.
Age of the Gunfighter: Men and Weapons on the Frontier 1840-1900
Firearms of the American West
Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters
The Guns That Won the West: Firearms on the American Frontier, 1848-1898
Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900: Naturally, the focus in this book is on the clothing people wore for formal portraits (and thus tends to be their "Sunday best"), but nevertheless it is a good guide to the costume of the era.
Great Train Robbery: Michael Crichton's novelization of the first robbery from a moving railway train . . . ever.
So many to choose from. Here's a few to get you started (not limited to westerns).
Unforgiven is one of the best western movies of the last twenty years. It is a little too gritty and realistic for some people's tastes, but that does not detract from my enjoyment of it. Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman.
The Big Country. Gregory Peck. Charleton Heston. Berle Ives (in an award-winning performance). This movie takes all your favorite western characters — the white hat, the black hat, the Eastern dude, the school marm, and the vast territory of the country itself — and turns them all on their ear. Watch this on the largest screen you can find . . . it's worth it. There are many good scenes, but my personal favorite is Peck (the former sea captain) explaining to the astonished landsmen how he managed to find his way across a featureless prairie using only a map and a compass.
High Noon. Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly (theme song by Tex Ritter "Do not forsake me, oh my darlin'"). They don't get much better than this. The SF movie Outland lifted the plot from this film pretty much straight. Some think this is a bad thing. I think they are mistaken.
The Great Train Robbery. This film takes a few liberties with the history of the first robbery from a moving railway train, but it's such a nice film that I'm willing to ignore them. Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, Leslie Ann Warren, directed by Michael Crichton, based on his book (see above).
I don't have any links for this page just yet. Stay tuned.