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Ride a Pale Horse
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Laura Joh Rowland
Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves - Art T. Burton Wow, there is no way that I'm going to be able to get though this one! I became interested in Bass Reeves after reading a children's book called Bad News for Outlaws : the Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal. I have to say that compared to this book, that children's book was so much more interesting!

I realize that Art Burton was fighting an uphill battle with this book. He says that little remains documenting Bass Reeves' life, and I understand that would make it difficult to write a biography about someone. But Black Gun, Silver Star, while starting out promisingly, just wound up documenting the people Reeves arrested, and, where possible, included witness testimony from their trials. This got really boring, really fast!

To be fair, at first it was kind of intriguing to read about horse theft, whiskey peddling, and the occasional murder. But the novelty wore off very quickly, and I found the book starved of depth and discussion about Bass Reeves. I know the author couldn't conjure a biography from a lack of contemporary documentation, but anaysis from historians, law enforcement experts, African American studies scholars, etc. placing Bass Reeves in context would have been great. I wanted to know what Reeves overcame, and what his legacy was. Mostly, I wanted to know why I should care about this person. What I *didn't* want was a noncontextualized and indiscriminate recounting of the trials of the people Reeves arrested. I hope that there's another biography out there that will enable me to learn more about this intriguing man.