A Lawless Breed: John Wesley Hardin, Texas Reconstruction, and Violence in the Wild West

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University of North Texas Press, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 490 pages
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John Wesley Hardin! His name spread terror in much of Texas in the years following the Civil War as the most wanted fugitive with a $4,000 reward on his head. A Texas Ranger wrote that he killed men just to see them kick. Hardin began his killing career in the late 1860s and remained a wanted man until his capture in 1877 by Texas Rangers and Florida law officials. He certainly killed twenty men; some credited him with killing forty or more. After sixteen years in Huntsville prison he was pardoned by Governor Hogg. For a short while he avoided trouble and roamed westward, eventually establishing a home of sorts in wild and woolly El Paso as an attorney. He became embroiled in the dark side of that city and eventually lost his final gunfight to an El Paso constable, John Selman. Hardin was forty-two years old.

Besides his reputation as the deadliest man with a six-gun, he left an autobiography in which he detailed many of the troubles of his life. In A Lawless Breed, Chuck Parsons and Norman Wayne Brown have meticulously examined his claims against available records to determine how much of his life story is true, and how much was only a half truth, or a complete lie. As a killer of up to forty men, Hardin obviously had psychological issues, which the authors probe and explain in laymen's terms. To Hardin, those three dozen or more killings were a result of being forced to defend his life, his honor, or to preserve his freedom against those who would rob or destroy him or his loved ones. Was he a combination freedom fighter/man-killer, or merely a blood-lust killer who became a national celebrity? This deeply researched biography of Hardin and his friends and family will remain the definitive study for years to come.

 

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User Review  - texascheeseman - LibraryThing

A Lawless Breed By Chuck Parsons and Norman Wayne Brown Publisher: University of North Texas Press Published In: Denton, TX, USA Date: 2013 Pgs: 490 Summary: John Wesley Hardin. The name was a terror ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
1 First Blood
7
2 Gunfire in Hill County
30
3 Mexico or Kansas?
49
4 Shedding Blood in Kansas
66
5 The Texas State Police
100
6 Capture and Escape
119
7 The End of Jack Helm
134
15 Huntsville and Punishment
255
16 Dreams of a Future
273
17 Seeing Jane Again
291
18 A Full Pardon
306
19 Attorney at Law JW Hardin
315
20 Troubles in Pecos
328
21 Troubles in El Paso
342
22 Ill Meet You Smoking
362

8 Killing Intensifies
149
9 A Bully from Canada
160
10 Fighting Wallers Texas Rangers
175
11 Leaving the Lone Star State
185
12 Troubles in Florida
200
13 Texas by God
220
14 Hardin on Trial
237
23 The Youngest Brother
376
24 End of the Gunfighters
387
Appendix
409
Endnotes
413
Bibliography
472
Index
481
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

CHUCK PARSONS is the author of Captain John R. Hughes: Lone Star Ranger (winner of the WWHA Best Book Award), The Sutton-Taylor Feud, John B. Armstrong, Texas Ranger N. O. Reynolds, and Captain L. H. McNelly. He lives in Luling, Texas. NORMAN WAYNE BROWN is retired from the U.S. Air Force and was a former Texas State Parole Officer. He has written two books and articles for True West and Wild West History Association Journal. He lives near Snyder, Texas.

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