Joseph G. Rosa's Age of the Gunfighter is a big and strikingly beautiful book, fea-
turing a dazzling twenty-seven-page color layout of firearms and their accou-
trements from the Gene Autry Museum in Los Angeles and the Buffalo Bill
Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming. Many are historic pieces that bear the
names of their famous and infamous owners. Among these are the guns of Billy
the Kid, Pat Garrett, Wild Bill Hickok, Frank James, Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp,
Harvey Logan, and John Wesley Hardin.
Carefully coordinated with the weaponry are the colorful stories of the men
who used and misused them, all of whom stare somberly (a few sightlessly) from
scores of dramatic black-and-white photographs, a number of which appear to
be recent discoveries. Eleven color paintings by N. C. Wyeth, Olaf Seltzer,
William Gollings, V. C. Forsyth, and Edward Borein impart a sense of action.
The narrative is organized into chapters concerned with salient events and cate-
gories or phases: "The Violent West," "Feuds and Range Wars," "Cowboys and
Cowtown Chaos," and "Law and Order: From Guns to Gavel." And though each
inevitably blends into the others, Rosa skillfully limns distinctions by individuals
and by geographical location. The text is especially well written.
There are inevitable errors. "Long-Haired" Jim Courtwright's six-gun did not
jam in his shootout with Luke Short; instead, Short's wild shot accidentally
clipped off Courtwright's hammer thumb, forcing the long-haired gunman to
execute the "border shift," flipping the gun from right hand to left, during
which lost second Luke shot him to pieces. And Wyatt Earp did not lug an eight-
inch-barreled, ornately scrolled Smith and Wesson American .44 into the O.K.
Corral. The big, awkward break-open weapon which originally bore pearl grips
was presented to John P. Clum as mayor and editor of Tombstone's Epitaph, not
by Clum to Earp. Wyatt would not have been caught dead with a gun like this!
No matter. This is a beautiful book, and the price is right.
San Jose, California JACK BURROWS
Rogers Hornsby: A Biography. By Charles C. Alexander. (New York: Henry Holt and
Co., 1995. Pp. xiv+366. Acknowledgments, prologue, epilogue, notes, bibli-
ography, index. ISBN o-80502-002-0. $27.50.)
Rogers Hornsby (1896-1963), a native of Winters, was the greatest baseball
player ever born in Texas. In twenty-three major league seasons he compiled a
.358 career batting average, the second-highest ever, and his 1924 mark of .424
is still a twentieth-century record. When he retired after the 1937 season, he was
the all-time National League leader in home runs and runs batted in. But while
it was easy to admire Hornsby as a ballplayer, it was also easy to dislike him as a
man, as Charles Alexander makes clear in this biography.
In comparison to the violent and paranoid Ty Cobb and the cunning and
ruthless John McGraw, the subjects of earlier biographies by Alexander, Hornsby
seems dull and shallow. Cobb, with his shrewd investments in the stock market,
and McGraw, with his far-ranging contacts in the New York theatrical world, at
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed April 20, 2014.