Montana Memoir: The Hardscrabble Years, 1925-1942


The Hardscrabble Years, 1925-1942
by William L. McGee with Sandra V. McGee
BMC Publications, December 2016
138 pp, 60 B/W photographs & illustrations
Paperback 6″ x 9″, $19.95; eBook $9.99
Buy the Book: Amazon – Take a Look Inside

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About the Book

In his Newly-released Memoir, Montana-born Author Recalls
the Hardscrabble Years Growing Up on the Hi-Line in the Great Depression

Author Bill McGee recaptures life growing up in the small cattle town of Malta, Montana, during the Great Depression.

He sets the stage with a Prologue that takes the reader “Westward Ho!” as his pioneering forefathers, curious to see what was on the other side of the mountains, migrated west generation by generation … until a pretty school teacher from Iowa (his mother) meets a wild and wooly cowboy (his father) on her brother’s cattle ranch in Park County, Montana, in 1919.

In McGee’s signature spare and straightforward style, he then recounts his own coming-of-age story … his father’s desertion in the depths of the Depression leaving behind a wife with four young children all under the age of ten … how his mother and siblings managed to get by with everyone working to contribute to the family “kitty” … the all-important role played by the congregation of the Malta Community Church … being “farmed out” at age seven to a neighboring rancher in the Bennett Lake community to work for room and board (“so there was one less mouth to feed at home”) … exploring the West in his teens by thumb and rail (“always sending part of my paycheck home”) … horseback riding with General George S. Patton … and working in the new Kaiser shipyards while waiting to turn seventeen, so he could join the Marines and “get into the fight.”


What Readers are Saying …

“I read MONTANA MEMOIR in a single sitting because I couldn’t put it down. Bill McGee’s firsthand account brought to such vivid life a world I had heard of, but had never experienced. Thank you for writing this book.”
—J. H., beta reader and “city boy”


“MONTANA MEMOIR will make everyone want to be a cowboy.”
– Murray Olderman, nationally syndicated columnist and sportswriter

“This poignant memoir — written by my father, a genuine Montana cowboy — is a treasure. As I read the book, I could hear his deep voice reading aloud to me.”
– K. McGee

“I married into the Montana Lyon family and therefore am familiar with the chapter on Frederick A. Lyon, who settled in Forest Grove, Montana, in 1882. Bill McGee’s prose brought the Lyon ranch to life.”
– J. Nichols
“I offer my admiration to the 90-plus year old author for writing ‘one more book’ and sharing his wonderful coming-of-age experiences in Depression-era Montana … stories that might have stayed in his mind and never been told. What a legacy for all to enjoy.”
– S. M.

Photo Ingo Markmann

William L. McGee’s writing career has spanned six decades. He has written 22 books – nine of them with his co-author/wife Sandra V. McGee.  Bill and Sandra are members of Western Writers of America.

To the Media
To schedule an interview or request a review copy, contact Bill or Sandra by by email at, or submit the Contact Form in the Media Room.