Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Books read in 2016: No. 4 -- Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters

by Bill O'Neal

Started: Feb. 5
Finished: March 1

Notes: I don't know if it's still the case today, but in the 1980s and '90s the University of Oklahoma Press produced more than a few truly fantastic books having to do with history of the Old West, such as this book. I originally read it about two decades ago, and since it has become a personal favorite. The title tells it as it is, this been a collection of Old West gunfights and gunfighters, from the obscure to the famous. I'm sure a few gunfights slipped through the cracks, gunfights which held no witnesses or which have been forgotten and unrecorded in time, but the author here seems to have gone to extremes to gather as much information as possible. As for why I'm reading this book again now after such a long while, I was looking for it recently and discovered I could not find my copy. So I ordered a new one. Seemed like a good time to me.

Mini review: I can't stress enough the importance of this work to anyone with more than a casual interest in the history of the Old West. There are so many characters and true-to-life tales here that Hollywood has barely touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential stories for film. The one downside is that with each gunfighter having his own individual entry, sometimes the reading can become a bit monotonous as you go over the same material more than once, such as with the Younger brothers. Also, I wish there would be a more recent version of this book, as surely there has been more historic research done in the last couple of decades, and this shows in a few places. Still, any fan of the Old West should have this book and read it and hold onto it as a fine source of material for writing or study.

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