The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991

Book Reviews
Siringo. By Ben E. Pingenot. (College Station: Texas A&M University
Press, 1989. Pp. xxviii+232. Preface, acknowledgments, introduc-
tion, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $29.50.)
Nineteen eighty-nine has been a banner year for enthusiasts of the
multitalented Charles A. Siringo, however many there might be. Be-
cause Siringo was a writer as well as a detective, John Byrne Cooke
found Siringo the appropriate narrator for his novel South of the Border
(1989), which recounts the return of Butch Cassidy to a last great ad-
venture. In Cooke's novel Siringo is actor as well as narrator and easily
the most important ingredient. The reasons for Cooke's fascination
with Siringo become abundantly clear in Ben E. Pingenot's biography.
Charlie Siringo (1855-1928) knew that his story made good copy.
He liked to write, and his natural subject matter was his own life. His
first career was as a cowboy-a career he followed for fifteen years,
with appropriate dangers and gusto. By the time he was thirty, that ca-
reer was behind him, and he described it in A Texas Cowboy (1885). His
cowboy background was useful to him in his next career as a detective
for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. There was more danger
in detective work, but Siringo liked the challenge. Intelligence and
good luck carried him far. The Pinkerton Agency was pleased with
Siringo's skill, but eventually the agency rued the day it took him on.
Siringo became increasingly critical of Pinkerton methods and even-
tually saw the agency as "a school for the making of anarchists." In sign-
ing with the agency, Siringo had agreed to confidentiality about all
agency business; so it is not surprising that the Pinkerton family could
not approve Siringo's second autobiography, first titled Pinkerton's Cow-
boy Detective. The agency, through the courts, forced Siringo to drop its
name from the title and to make other changes as well. The book was
published in 1912 as A Cowboy Detective, but Siringo's compliance with
the court ruling was imperfect; the agency and its "ex-detective" would
battle each other for a third of Siringo's life.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed July 31, 2015.