Thursday, May 31, 2007

Read: "Draw" by James Reasoner

Read: Draw: the greatest gunfights of the American West by James Reasoner, 2003, 0425191931 (pbk.).

Pretty good. Short chapters with biographical sketches of the shootists and the shootout. Some guys show up more than once, like Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp. I reserved this (copy is from Hartford P.L.) after a plug by Bill Crider.

Pretty much all the guys in Draw were unsavory and unpleasant characters. When I read complaints about how bad modern society is I keep in mind how dangerous the "Wild West" (and 1920s Chicago) was. Sporadic law enforcement, lynchings, and unfair trials were standard. The legal standard for self-defense was pretty dang low. Even the lawmen were, oftentimes, crooks and gamblers. A fellow would be a deputy then a gambler then a hired gunman and then a deputy again.

I was surprised at how often people moved around; men traveled from Kansas to Texas to Oklahoma to Arizona to New Mexico to Colorado and would get into altercations at each stop. That's a lot of train trips and horse rides.

Of the 31 stories told by Reasoner there were some really interesting tales with some really interesting people. But, I'm not going to bother retelling them.

No comments: