The first book on the Old West that I owned was Lea McCarty’s The Gunfighters; how accurate is it?

John Redshaw, Maniac #776

St.Paul, Alberta, Canada

I have a copy of Gunfighters, too. Since it came out in 1959, a lot of the material is dated and lists some of the myths as facts. For example, McCarty says Billy the Kid killed 21 men; we know that wasn’t true. He says Johnny-Behind-the-Deuce O’Rourke killed Johnny Ringo, which is not likely (most folks think it was suicide). The author refers to the McLaury brothers as “McLowery,” which was commonly done in the 1950s. Still, McCarty is pretty accurate with a lot of things, and the book is a good read for short biographical sketches. Overall, McCarty’s paintings (the real feature of the book) were a good likeness to the actual gunfighters. He had most of them packing two six-shooters, however, and that was more reel West than real West.

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