WILLA 2016 Award Winner
Reading the West 2015 Nonfiction Award Winner
New Mexico-Arizona Book Award Winner: Best Biography - Arizona subject
Poling-Kempes has done an admirable job scouring archives for these women, who have been largely left out of the historical record of the West. It's a kind of prequel to our common history of the Southwest, peopled by women with long skirts and cinched waists in the desert heat, riding cowboy style, trying to do right by the land they all loved.
—Los Angeles Times
Both enjoyable and edifying.
The members of [Poling-Kempes's] 'league of extraordinary women' come together in the Southwest much like the members of television's A-Team assemble for their maverick adventures.
—Western Historical Quarterly
Poling-Kempes is an experienced writer of both history and fiction, and deftly weaves a clear and engaging narrative from what could have become an overwhelming barrage of people, places, and events.
—The Journal of Arizona History
This book fills an important niche in the history of the Southwest.
—New Mexico Historical Review
We've long been told, boringly, emphatically, that the American West was 'won' by men, that it was essentially a male saga. Even from the beginning, everyone who had anything to do with it always knew this 'take' on western history was, at best, only half true. What has been generally lacking is great narratives about great western women, but here, in this fine, vivid volume, we have just such a tale. Part Willa Cather, part Thelma and Louise, here is a story of heroines, of mischief-makers and epic-builders, told by a writer who knows and loves the grand landscapes on which these larger-than-life women left their indelible mark.
—Hampton Sides, author of Bloodand Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West and In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette
Poling-Kempes's lively prose brings to life a chain of unconventional women who fell in love with the American Southwest. The author reconstructs the remarkable careers of the women who were the first 'New Women' of the Southwest long before Mabel Dodge Luhan and Georgia O'Keeffe arrived on the New Mexican scene.
—Carolyn Brucken, Curator of Western Women's History, Autry National Center of the American West
Ladies of the Canyons
shows the way in which O'Keefe and others were just the latest in a tradition of audacious women who carved a well-traveled path of freedom and challenge.
Poling-Kempes weaves together remarkable tales of remarkable individuals and introduces a star-studded cast of friends, colleagues, artists, writers, musicians, a president, cowboys, and Indians.
—Christine Mather, author of Santa Fe Style
Lesley Poling-Kempes captures readers with her captivating combination of storytelling, analysis, and cultural contexts. Her capsule biographies of a coterie of energetic, courageous women will appeal to everyone.
—Dr. Richard Etulain, author of Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era
A wonderful and inspiring story of women who wanted more to their lives than that set in their rather tedious, staid world. Women will love the book; and men can't help but admire the rare and admirable ladies who came west and never looked back. It is a fitting tribute to the land and peoples of the Southwest and those who challenged their own society, embraced and enriched their new wild canyon country and who thrived because of it.
—True West Magazine