Karl May's Imaginary America
One of my Polish friends recently emigrated here. First vacation he headed for the Black Hills to see the prairies May had described in his books.
"It was exactly as I'd always imagined it." He phoned me excitedly. "Exactly as May had said it would be." Not bad, considering Karl May never even went to the Far West but imagined it all up in his library in the Saxon city of Dresden!
May in fact wrote about thirty "Westerns". Winnetou and Old Shatterhand appear in about half of them, but if you only ever read one then Winnetou's the one to go for. You get the whole story there, from the arrival of a young German writer and adventurer named (coincidentally) Karl in St. Louis in the 1860s, through his meeting and adventures with Winnetou, to the latter's brutal murder in the Grand Tetons in Wyoming in 1874. (May was very precise and with typical German thoroughness supplied both date and map marking Winnetou's grave. My Polish friend looked for it in vain, just like countless thousands of Germans before him).