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"The Beaver Men: Spearheads of Empire" by Mari Sandoz was published 50 years ago

Fifty years ago, in the fall of 1964, Nebraska's well-known author and historian Mari Sandoz was promoting her new book, "The Beaver Men," about the harvesting of the beaver in North America. In August 1964, reviewers were provided advance copies of "The Beaver Men: Spearheads of Empire." Sandoz and "The Beaver Men" are still being referred to by scholars today.

"The Beaver Men" was the third of her books about Great Plains animals, following "The Buffalo Hunters" and "The Cattlemen," although it was the first of the three chronologically. Men of the Lewis and Clark expedition were among those depicted by Sandoz in "The Beaver Men."

Authors using "The Beaver Men" in current historical writing include Eric Jay Dolin, who names "The Beaver Men" in some of the references for his 2010 book "Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America." Andrew R. Graybill writes the introduction for the 2010 paperback edition of "The Beaver Men" from the University of Nebraska Press (see www.nebraskapress.unl.edu). Three books by Sandoz, including "The Beaver Men," are in the bibliography for the 1997 "Encyclopedia of the American West" with Robert M. Utley as general editor.

Sandoz, born in 1896, grew up in difficult circumstances in rural northwest Nebraska, a youth she describes in her 1935 book "Old Jules" about her immigrant father. As a girl she heard stories from her father and visitors that she would later use in developing books such as "The Beaver Men."