A Lawless Breed (University of North Texas Press, $29.95)

Barton Barbour_a-lawless-breedWith A Lawless Breed: John Wesley Hardin, Texas Reconstruction, and Violence in the Wild West, authors Chuck Parsons and Norman Wayne Brown have added much to the history, legend and lore of the misspent life of a premier Texas murderer. This is the best biography since Leon C. Metz penned his John Wesley Hardin: Dark Angel of Texas. Further, through their meticulous research to determine how much of Hardin’s autobiography is accurate, Parsons and Brown uncovered new sources that were not available to Metz, as well as new illustrations (Metz contributed the foreword for this book). A Lawless Breed will likely become a classic.

I have one quibble with the authors. They adopted a paradigm of a “feud” when covering the tangle between Bill Sutton and the Taylor clan in southern Texas-focus DeWitt County. Yet they did not have a feud. Hardin and the Taylors were known felons, and Sutton was the deputy sheriff charged with bringing in the villains. I have sometimes joked with my friend, Chuck: “You show me a feud, and I’ll show you a lawman chasing outlaws.”

—James M. Smallwood, author of The Feud That Wasn’t: The Taylor Ring, Bill Sutton, John Wesley Hardin, and Violence in Texas

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