The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 506
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
other on the Lincoln County War, each has commendable, special fea-
tures of its own.
Merchants, Guns, and Money may be said to adopt a "vertical" ap-
proach in that it focuses on the town of Lincoln through all its history,
from earliest settlement (including the surrounding area) to the present.
Approximately one hundred pages of narrative may be said to apply to
the Lincoln County War(s), about seventy pages to Lincoln's earlier and
subsequent history. High Noon in Lincoln's approach may be called "hor-
izontal" in focusing exclusively on the war and relating its history to the
broad topic of violence on the American frontier. Robert M. Utley makes
a significant contribution to historical literature in his discursive last
chapter, "Post-Mortem," outlining five themes of the Lincoln County
War with comparisons to the Johnson County War and other episodes.
John P. Wilson also makes an important contribution by chronicling the
origins and growth of an interesting and in many ways typical New
Mexican community. The historical, geographic, social, and economic
setting for the Lincoln County War has never been presented so well.
Careful readers of the previous, voluminous Lincoln County War
literature will not find strikingly new or unusual narrative or inter-
pretation in either of these authoritative works, or any important con-
flict between them. Presumably the murders and shoot-outs and role of
"Billy the Kid" in and around Lincoln in 1878-1879 are known well
enough not to require summation here, even if space allowed. My rec-
ommendation is to read Utley's book for smooth-flowing, beautifully
crafted narrative (with the exception, perhaps, of Chapter 2), and to
read Wilson's book for well-expressed narrative that is bolstered but
slowed by extensive quotations from documents and the addition of a
ten-page documentary appendix. Both books have outstanding collec-
tions of photographs and useful maps; curiously, however, most lack
scales. Both books are richly documented with ample notes and bibli-
ographies based on long, thoughtful studies of all available documen-
tary sources and consultations with living authorities. (In the two
books, the authors graciously credit each other as being among those
In future editions I hope that these authors will, if possible, agree on
some small discrepancies, such as whether the old torreon (defensive
tower) was of two or three stories and whether one or two men were
named John B. (Juan Bautista? [Utley, p. 212, n. io]) Wilson. In these
cases I incline to side with author Wilson, but he loses badly when his
poor index is compared with Utley's excellent one. In addition, though
fault lies primarily with the publisher, Wilson would benefit from close
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/560/: accessed July 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.