The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999

Book Reviews

sentation about magic and realism in the Southwest borderlands. This area, in
the words of Paula Allen, is "one place where the intricate relation between the
sun and the web, the spirit and the substance, is undeniable" (p. 364).
This volume joins a list of distinguished writings on regional history in recent
years. In this historiography, it should be noted, the political aspects of regional-
ism is best explored in Frontier and Region: Essays in Honor of Martin Ridge (1997).
To reconceptualize western history, one must also give more attention to the ori-
gins of the regional ethos-especially the patterns of thought found in the stud-
ies by Hubert Howe Bancroft and Frederick Jackson Turner. In addition, the
possibility that allegiance to a state (being a Texan or a Californian) could be
more significant than identity with a region still needs to be more fully explored.
Although there are no easy answers to questions about the roles of frontiers and
regions in the American West, this book will be a source of stimulation in future
debates about the elusive mindsets of westerners.
Jamestown Community College HaroldJ. Weiss Jr.
Desperate Men: The James Gang and the Wild Bunch. By James D. Horan. (Revised,
enlarged edition; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997. Pp. xvii+389.
Introduction, foreword, index. ISBN o-8o32-73o7-X. $18.95, paper).
The average book on the history of Wild West outlaws and lawmen written
twenty-five years ago generally holds up about as well as the average American
automobile of twenty-five years ago. Not very well, that is. A good many were
clunkers when first issued, having been written by people whose passion for their
subject matter exceeded both their talent for writing and their ability to separate
fact from the folklore, misinformation, and outright fiction perpetuated over
the years by their predecessors. Western outlaws and lawmen are fun to write
about, and some badly written and/or poorly researched books about them are
still fun to read, not to mention highly collectible. The other problem with the
popularity of the genre is that, with so many professional and amateur
researchers drawn to these subjects, new information keeps being unearthed
everyday, making even many above-average books obsolete within a few years.
Confronted with circumstances like these, the existence of a handful of near-
ly ageless classics like Desperate Men: The James Gang and the Wild Bunch, by James
D. Horan, seems a minor miracle. When it was first published in 1949, the book
represented a solid, lively, and well-written recounting of the history of the
James Gang. The portion of the book devoted to the Wild Bunch had the same
attributes and more, having been one of the first full-length treatments of that
gang. As the first writer to be allowed access to the files of the Pinkerton detec-
tive agency, Horan unearthed a great deal of previously unknown detail about
the Wild Bunch, and in 1962, he had enough information to add seventeen
new chapters in a revised and greatly enlarged edition of the book. Though it
has its omissions and errors, Desperate Men remains a cornerstone of any library
devoted to outlaw-lawman history. Bison Books (University of Nebraska Press)
has published a new edition of this 1962 edition, with an introduction by the

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/. Accessed July 24, 2014.