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Outlaws of the Wild West (Hardback)

Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: 17th-19th Centuries Military > Pre-WWI > American History P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > True Crime

By Terry C Treadwell
Frontline Books
Pages: 272
Illustrations: 100 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526782373
Published: 5th March 2021



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The ‘Wild West’, or American Frontier as it is also known, developed in the years following the American Civil War. However, this period of myth-making cowboys, infamous gunslingers, not always law-abiding lawmen, and saloon madams, is as much the product of fiction writers and film makers as reality.

The outlaw came into his, or indeed her, own in the mid to late 19th century. Some of these individuals, men such as Billy the Kid, William Clarke Quantrill, Butch Cassidy or Harry Longabaugh, better known as the Sundance Kid, became household names. Many of those who roamed America’s West in the period between 1850 and 1900 often appear as colourful, romanticised, legendary characters. This includes the likes of Frank and Jesse James, who had stepped outside the law due to the harshness of life after the Civil War or under circumstances beyond their control.

The majority of outlaws, though, were anonymous common criminals. In 1877, for example, the State Adjutant General of Texas, published ‘wanted posters’ for some 5,000 outlaws and bandits in the Rio Grande district alone, almost all of whom have since vanished into the mists of time.

When it comes to the Wild West, it is important to separate fact from fiction. Of the known recorded killings by the various outlaws and gunfighters, Billy the Kid killed four men, not the twenty that some writers attributed to him. A notorious gunslinger, John Wesley Hardin was said to have killed twenty-seven men, but was only charged with one murder. Wild Bill Hickok killed three men, two of them in Abilene whilst he was City Marshal, and one in Springfield, Missouri, for which he was tried and found not guilty. Clay Allison, however, was thought to have killed at least fifteen men in his time as a gunfighter, whilst some of the outlaw gangs, such as the Rufus Buck Gang and the Evans Gang, were particularly violent and ruthless.

The days of the outlaws of the Wild West gradually came to an end at the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century. The legends, however, live on.

I have always been interested in stories about the Wild West so this book was a perfect read for me. Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Billy the Kid are all included in this novel with a lot of other lesser known names. Some were notorious for crimes and killings they did not commit. A very interesting read! Really enjoyed it!

NetGalley, Sharon Person

Outlaws have existed in the US since the Mayflower passengers disembarked, so this was an interesting look at some of the most notorious figures in Western history, as well as some names that aren't as well known but should be. Each chapter features a different person or group, so it can be read a little at a time if you like. The illustrations are very helpful.

NetGalley, June Lee

This is such an easy book to read. The writing reads like fiction. My favorite part of this book was the characterization of the different people portrayed in the book. The photos included add another level to their incredible stories. The variety of the photos and the stories provided for each in the captions help to bring the moments and the characters to life.

NetGalley, Brittany Jenkins

The highlight of the book for me were all of the names I was unfamiliar with. I mentioned earlier that I don’t read about outlaws much, so a lot of the more westerly ones were very interesting. This book gives me a number of ideas of who I need to look up to read more about in the future. One that was really interesting for me was Henry Starr, a man that kept getting hassled for crimes he didn’t commit, making him eventually say “well I guess I better do crimes now”. Then, no matter how many times he said he was going to repent and turn his life around, he would be robbing another bank months later. The man eventually starred in movies about himself until he realized outstanding warrants may make that impossible, so he went back to his passion – robbing banks. I may try to read a book about him alone in the future.

Solid book that I would definitely recommend.

NetGalley, Stephen Kelley

Outlaws of the Wild West is more than a collection of stories but a thought-provoking exposure of a fissure in American history.

Beating Tsundoku

I really like this book. It is well researched and written, and is both educational and entertaining. Who knew that Billy the Kid wrote several letters to a Governor who never replied? This Governor was Lew Wallace, who wrote the book Ben Hur.
A fascinating insight into the lives and deeds of many well-known desperados. They were not Hollywood Heroes, just lawbreakers. A book to read again and again.

For the Love of Books

The book is a series of short bios of some of the more famous or infamous characters of the old west, as well as quite a few that most have never heard of before. I have read a lot about the history of the old west and although many of the characters I was familiar with, I still found myself learning something new about them. There were also some very colorful outlaws, both male and female, that I had never heard of and I really enjoyed learning about them. The inclusion of these lesser-known outlaws sets this volume apart from most of the similar books out there. But the most impressive thing about these sketches was the number of photos, many I had never seen before.

NetGalley, John Brown

This was a thoroughly good book, good to read, quick to read and very well informed. Treadwell has done a lot of writing on American history before. I enjoyed this book so much that I think they should do a President’s and a Civil War General’s version too which I would think would do quite well. I would wholly recommend this book to others especially if you want a good basic knowledge of this part of American history. It’s been one of the best books I’ve read in a while.

5 stars

Read the full review here

UK Historian

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Who knew the Wild West was quite that wild?! I found this book absolutely fascinating and was surprised by how little I actually knew (both the information about well-known outlaws and ones completely new to me). "Outlaws of the Wild West" is very well-written, and the photos (while some are a little disturbing) bring an extra touch of reality to the text. Wow!

NetGalley, Dawn Lewis

Oh, I think this book is going to be on my short list of "things I can use with students in the future" shelves. I absolutely loved reading through this book! It was full of great history, backgrounds on the outlaws, their gangs, and so much more! Photos rounded out the book so that you could put a face with the name, and it really helped to shape the small snippets of information that many know.

NetGalley, Rebecca Hill

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a fantastically researcher, well-written book that I would highly recommend. There are photos throughout so you can see who the author is talking about, what the area looked like and maps of the area etc. The book is written in sections with each character written about in their full history before moving onto the full histories of those they were connected to. I've found other authors tell stories of the wild West in such a way as to make seemingly unbelievable stories boring, but this author, whilst sticking to the truth and not buying into unsubstantiated rumours, made each life history interesting and such that you just want to keep reading. I would look to buy this as a physical copy as I feel it would display the photos better, and would definitely recommend

NetGalley, Saffron Melnyk

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A companion book to Lawmen of the Wild West, Terry C Treadwell gives us a look at outlaws during the same time period. Yes, several lawmen were outlaws and several outlaws became lawmen but that only serves to prove the title "Wild West". After the Civil War, many men became outlaws when their way of life was destroyed. This book tells the stories of many of these men, some well known to history, some not, but all making their own contributions to the way of life that fascinates us still. Another 5 star read for Treadwell. What era will be next?

NetGalley, Denice Langley

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a really well done book, it was a topic that I find interesting and I did learn some things about the Wild West. The author was able to create an informative read and still be entertaining.

NetGalley, Kay McLeer

A great collection of stories about the outlaws of the old west. It is a great companion to his previous book on Lawmen of the old west. If you enjoy reading about this period of American history, this book is for you!

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

Saddle up for an adventure that is going to knock you over! This book is packed full of information on the Lawmen of the Wild West, and there is SO MUCH INFORMATION!

I loved reading through this one! Isaac Parker and Wild Bill Hickock were two of my favorites to read about. Lawmen of the Wild West draws the romantic notion of the west, and kicks that out of the window. It was lawless, but there were some who did their best to bring law and order. This rather makes me think a bit of the old radio show, "Have Gun, Will Travel." These men did their best to bring justice (but let's be honest, some of them managed to hit the wrong side of the law too), and in turn, shaped their names to be remembered throughout history, and the struggle for taming the west.

Hands down one of the best books I have read this year!

NetGalley, Rebecca Hill

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My father told me stories of the "Wild West" during my childhood, which was the main reason I was drawn to this book. Once I started reading it, I was enthralled and didn't want to put it down. A very good account, with some extras my father wouldn't tell me as a child (for example the execution of Thomas "Black Jack" Ketchum). Great book.

NetGalley, Norma Carroll

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I truly haven't a clue for how long it's been since I read a book this fast! Let's just say that it's been one heck of a long time!
Did I enjoy this? Did I ever!
Who doesn't love the outlaws? Truthfully, I'm disgusted with them! Such a lawless time.
I'm happy to say that most died as they lived..violently! I even love the "dead outlaw" photo's! I do have a soft spot for Butch and Sundance. I'm sure the movie has swayed me! BUT, Butch did have a sense of humor, and I still can't help but believe, even after reading this book, that they were just lazy, wayward souls.
Most others? they were just as vicious as we all thought! What is surprising is how many of these men had families. The story of that Indian Ned? It must have been too easy back then to railroad an innocent.
Back then, though? It took nerves of steel or some type of insanity to want to be law! And, yes! I once thought I'd have been a Marshall back then! Hey! Matt Dillon roont me!
It actually boggles my mind that someone like me "a woman" would choose this lifestyle,and even raise a family!
I do like hearing about the women outlaws. I often read about women who were powerful in their own right. They owned bars, brothels and gambling dens. Still, an actual outlaw?
I have certain books that I've read, and thought that I'd like to go and experience that time. Hell, I would have wanted to walk the London street's during the plague. I'd have loved to sail the Arctic Ocean aboard H.M.S.Terror, or Erebus!
The United States in these Outlaw times? No.
I like throwing up some dust now and then, but?
I had no idea how ineffective law enforcement was back then. It makes me grateful for how far we've come!
Sometimes we didn't even have "law" enforcement. None. Once a year, here in Helena, Montana we have a Vigilantes Day Parade. It's something I think about, because in every other town, city or state I've lived in, Vigilantes weren't celebrated. But, reading back over history, Vigilantes are reviled. Near as much as if you'd killed someone with a crowd of witnesses.
We still have that parade. Sadly, it's always kids from the 2 high schools in town. It makes me wonder just what are they being taught?
The vigilantes were eventually disbanded. They, like most became what they had hunted. Murderers.
Yeah, sorry. Long review. I've really quite a lot more thoughts. If you fell asleep 😴! Wake ⏰ up!
Treadwell rocks!

NetGalley, Lisa Noell

About Terry C Treadwell

TERRY C. TREADWELL was born and educated in Bournemouth. Having served in the Royal Air Force, in telecommunications, and travelled the world quite extensively, including working in Australia for a short period, he was European Correspondent for Naval Aviation News (the official aviation magazine for the US Navy) and Wings of Gold (US) for ten years.

Outlaw Jesse James is born in Missouri

5th September 1847

Seen by some as a vicious murderer and by others as a gallant Robin Hood, the famous outlaw Jesse Woodson James is born on September 5, 1847, in Clay County, Missouri.

Born on this day - Billy the Kid (full name William Henry McCarty, Jr)

23rd November 1859

Gunfighter in the "Old West". According to legend, he killed 21 men (but it is widely believed that he killed 8 people). He was catapulted into legend in 1881 when a price was placed on his head by the governor of New Mexico.

Billy the Kid arrested for first time

23rd September 1875

On September 23, 1875, Billy the Kid is arrested for the first time after stealing a basket of laundry. He later broke out of jail and roamed the American West, eventually earning a reputation as an outlaw and murderer and a rap sheet that allegedly included 21 murders.

Died on this day - Jesse James

3rd April 1882

American outlaw Jesse James is shot in the back of the head and killed by fellow gang member Robert Ford at home in St. Joseph, Missouri

View all events View all anniversaries

Perfect Partner

Lawmen of the Wild West (Hardback)

Without doubt it was one of the toughest jobs. Faced with ruthless criminal, trigger-happy gunslingers and assorted desperados, the lawmen of the Old West tried, and sometimes died, in their efforts to bring some semblance of order to their towns and communities. There were Marshals, City Marshals and Constables who were employed by the local townspeople and whose authority was restricted to within the town or city limits. Then there were the County Sheriffs, who were elected by the citizens of the county, to keep the peace within the county, or the Texas Rangers and Arizona Rangers, who operated…

By Terry C Treadwell

Click here to buy both titles for £50.00
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