The Bad Man of the West. By George Hendricks.
San Antonio: The Naylor Co., 1941. Pp. 310. Drawings by Frank
A. Stanush, photographs, appendix, and bibliography. $3.50.
George Hendricks, of the University High School, Austin,
Texas, has written a lively book about the famous characters
of the West, which will interest those who seek generalizations
and theories about the bad man. In point of time, the book
covers more than a century, from the early 1800's to well within
the 1900's; the field of action is as wide as the West, in the
widest sense. The bad men include every shade of "badness"
from "mildly" bad men, some of whom this reviewer believes
would be very much surprised to find themselves included, to
depraved murderers. About two hundred and fifty bad men are
included; some are mentioned only once, while others appear
twenty or even fifty times. Many are peace officers, and, while
the inclusion of some of these in a compendium of bad men
is a natural, logical and truthful association, it is nevertheless
confusing to find the two categories of pioneer frontiersmen
so closely knit in a discussion of the one.
The author's attempt at generalization is awkward for the
reason that he has relied upon weak data, superficial or popu-
larized treatments, and a few unreliable sources. Billy the Kid
is mentioned fifty-eight times, and without reference to the
writings of John W. Poe or Pat Garrett. Other solid reference
writing like Miguel Oter's My Life on the Frontier, and W. E.
Connelly's Wild Bill and His Era are strangely ignored, in the
light of the author's statement that he has checked and "double-
checked" all the evidence.
In method, the book is unique. In each of his nine chapters,
the author has proposed a question or stated a generalization;
these he proceeds to substantiate by numerous examples of
actions of bad men, quoting the words of a named person
without reference to the particular book from which he quotes.
The reader is confused by oft repeated mention of some char-
acters in as many as twenty or more places, in spite of the fact
that the author uses phrases like "as we shall see," and "as
we have seen."
By chapters, with inviting headings like "Motives and Influ-
ences Affecting the Bad Man," "Description of the Bad Man,"
and "Inheritance or Environment?", the author presents his
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 45, July 1941 - April, 1942. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146053/. Accessed May 7, 2015.