Outlaws of the Wild West written by Terry C. Treadwell and published by Frontline Books – £20.00 – Hardback – Pages 272
The ‘Wild West’, or American Frontier as it is also known, developed in the years following the American Civil War. However, this period of myth-making cowboys, infamous gunslingers, not always law-abiding lawmen, and saloon madams, is as much the product of fiction writers and filmmakers as reality. The outlaw came into his, or indeed her, own in the mid to late 19th century. Some of these individuals, men such as Billy the Kid, William Clarke Quantrill, Butch Cassidy or Harry Longabaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid, became household names. Many of those who roamed America’s West in the period between 1850 and 1900 often appear as colourful, romanticised, legendary characters. This includes the likes of Frank and Jesse James, who had stepped outside the law due to the harshness of life after the Civil War or under circumstances beyond their control.
The majority of outlaws, though, were anonymous common criminals. In 1877, for example, the State Adjutant General of Texas, published ‘wanted posters’ for some 5,000 outlaws and bandits in the Rio Grande district alone, almost all of whom have since vanished into the mists of time.
Now this may be a biased review but 19th century American history is my favourite part of history. So when I was asked to review this book I couldn’t wait, and I only wasn’t disappointed in the Outlaws of the Wild West. The book is split into separate chapters with each chapter looking at an individual outlaw. There are some well known names covered like Billy the Kid, the James gang and the Dalton gang etc, but there some more obscure names too. Also credit that the book covers a number of female outlaws also. Each chapter reveals a life story of each outlaw from start to end with excellent detail and photographs. There is a running theme through the book about how many of the men come from harsh backgrounds or didn’t have the best upbringing in life which might explain why they followed the lives they did.
This was a thoroughly good book, good to read, quick to read and very well informed. Treadwell has done a lot of writing on American history before. I enjoyed this book so much that I think they should do a President’s and a Civil War General’s version too which I would think would do quite well. I would wholly recommend this book to others especially if you want a good basic knowledge of this part of American history. It’s been one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Thank you to the Pen & Sword gang.