The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000

Book Reviews

and specific locations with which the reader may be unfamiliar; maps would
have been helpful. Here, for instance, is a typical paragraph: "Jones was quite
interested in any information which the boy, captured several years earlier from
a ranch near Fort Clark, might give them about the Plains, a largely unknown
region. His release from his Indian captors was reported in a number of newspa-
pers, attracting the attention of his parents who took him back home" (p. 69).
Regardless of such negatives, readers may find this tome valuable and worth-
while. Wilkins has investigated hundreds of documents at the state archives and
the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. He has also
included personal memoirs regarding Lee McNelly. And many times in this work
he includes block quotes, which display authenticity--but not readability.
Texas Christzan University BEN PROCTER
Sam Bass and Gang. By Rick Miller. (Austin: State House Press, 1999. Pp. vii+412.
Introduction, acknowledgments, epilogue, endnotes, bibliography, index.
ISBN 1-88051-065-0. $21.95, cloth.)
If numbers of books written about a subject are any indication, Sam Bass is one
of the most popular figures in Texas history. Dozens of books and scores of arti-
cles have been written about this criminal, but most pale in comparison to author
Rick Miller's work. In Sam Bass and Gang Miller strives to cut through myth and
legend to accurately portray the story of Sam Bass. Tales about Sam Bass arose
even before the end of his brief career as a criminal. Cowboys driving cattle up
the trail soothed their herds by singing "The Ballad of Sam Bass," a romanticized
version of his life and criminal career. Early published works were more anecdo-
tal than scholarly, until Wayne Gard published his much more factual work in
1936 (Sam Bass, Houghton Mifflin Company). Even Gard's attempt at accuracy
suffered from a lack of notes, a shortcoming Miller's work does not share.
Miller's book factually tells the story of the entire life and career of Sam Bass,
from his childhood and early life in Indiana to the climactic gun battle on the
streets of Round Rock, Texas, and beyond. The criminal career of this legend
was surprisingly short, spanning only sixteen months. The author describes the
often muddled and sometimes antagonistic efforts of the various legitimate and
quasi-law enforcement entities engaged in the search for Bass and his gang. He
also suggests that the hunt for Sam Bass made more obvious the necessity of an
organized statewide police force, even though the Indian threat and border
troubles had diminished. The capture of Bass by the Texas Rangers helped to
ensure the survival of that organization, in a post-Reconstruction time of fiscal
austerity. The epilogue and aftermath tie up all the loose ends, following the
subsequent careers of other gang members, the Rangers involved, and other
peace officers concerned with the case.
Miller delves deeply into the lives of the people who had the most influence,
good and bad, on Sam Bass. Extensive endnotes provide a wealth of genealogical
information on most of the subjects mentioned in the narrative, as well as abun-
dant background material on characters and localities. Contemporary newspa-
per accounts and court records help to dispel many of the myths that have
arisen concerning Sam Bass. The author has exhaustively searched county and

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/. Accessed August 27, 2014.