Death of a Gunfighter (Nonfiction)

 Dan Rottenberg, Westholme Publishing, $29.95, Hardcover.
 Dan Rottenberg, Westholme Publishing, $29.95, Hardcover.

Rottenberg is to be commended for rescuing Jack Slade from relative obscurity. Slade has, indeed, slipped through the cracks of history and into folklore, like Pecos Bill, despite being mentioned by Mark Twain in his book Roughing It. Slade belongs more to legend, and fiction, because of the many gaps in his biography. These, the author has mostly patched. When he famously cut off Jules Beni’s ears for souvenirs, Beni was probably already dead by the time Slade got to him. In short, Slade was a tough teamster, wagonmaster and stagecoach driver who rose to the position of superintendent of a section of the Central Overland stage and the Pony Express route. He was a bully, for sure, but not a bandit. After he was shot full of holes by Beni, but miraculously recovered, he became a mean, drifting drunk, guilty only of starting drunken brawls and destroying property. Unfortunately, his badman ways got him hanged by Montana’s vigilantes.

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