1. Lawmen & Desperadoes (William B. Secrest; Arthur H. Clark Co.): This is a fascinating, well-researched compendium of short biographies of many of the most noted outlaws and lawmen of Old California.

2. Let Justice Be Done (Kevin J. Mullen; University of Nevada Press): This is the authoritative book on the San Francisco’s 1851 Committee of Vigilance, and it lays to rest many myths and misconceptions.

3. The Joaquin Band: The History Behind the Legend (Lori Lee Wilson; University of Nebraska Press): This is one of the best books about the real Joaquin Murrieta, and it does a great job of separating fact from fiction.

4. Train Robber’s Daughter: The Melodramatic Life of Eva Evans (Jay O’Connell; Raven River Press): This amazing book is based on the unpublished memoir of Eva Evans, daughter of the notorious train robber and killer Chris Evans, of the Evans and Sontag gang.  Rarely do you find this kind of inside information about an outlaw and his family.

5. Wells Fargo Detective: A Biography of James B. Hume (Richard H. Dillon; University of Nevada Press): This work has become a classic and is still in print. Based on journals and letters of James B. Hume, it is the only biography of the numerous detectives and shotgun messengers who worked for Wells Fargo in the frontier period.


—John Boessenecker, author of When Law Was in the Holster: The Frontier Life of Bob Paul (University of Oklahoma Press)


Related Articles

  • dark territory terrence mccauley true west magazine

    Review of Terrence McCauley’s Dark Territory.

  • /colt

    While the subject matter of this work is fascinating and the photography is top-notch, I was…

  • Guns-of-Outlaws-Weapons-of-the-American-Bad-Man

    Famous outlaw and lawman firearms have always been captivating. Gerry and Janet Souter’s Guns of…