Wednesday, November 17, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 94

This is an ongoing series looking at books that influenced me as a fantasy author

Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters
by Bill O'Neal

Encyclopedia of Western GunfightersThis book is pretty much what the title tells you. It has many, many sections on most every known historical gunfighter and gunfight from the Old West of American history.

In many ways, this is not the most exciting of reading because it breaks events down and reports them pretty directly, almost as would a high school history book. But that's actually one of the things I love about this book. It doesn't romanticize gunfights of the Wild West, but tells them as history has recorded them.

There is some opinionated writing here from time to time, and the author does not get his facts correct every single time (at least in my opinion), but I'm willing to let much of that slide for the reason that much of the history of America's West isn't all that dependable anyway, especially when it comes to gunfights.

Of course you'll find the famous gunslingers and fights here. The O.K. Coral, obviously. Wyatt Earp. John Wesley Hardin. Wild Bill Hickok. Names most armchair historians would recognize. But you'll also find out quite a bit about lesser known gunfighters, and you'll likely even be surprised when some people and events pop up that you've never heard of.

The author went to some extremes to find out his information.

As can be expected, for the most part, these are not gunfights as Hollywood portrays them. In fact, there's maybe only three or four out of hundreds upon hundreds listed here that would be anything close to what Hollywood often portrays as a Western gunfight.

On the other side of that, there are a few gunfights here in which such wild and crazy things happen that it makes one think of the old saying that "truth is stranger than fiction."

If you want to write about this time period, or if you're just a history buff, I highly suggest you pick up this book.

Up next: Lonesome Dove

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I actually don't have this book but I sure need it.