Friday, January 4, 2013

Quick-Draw Gunfighters by Jeff Savage: Book review

"True Tales of the Wild West” series
Quick-Draw Gunfighters
Author: Jeff Savage
Publisher: Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2012
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl 
Age: 12 up, Young Adult nonfiction
Pages: 48


“Gunfighters in the Wild West were a flashy, self-confident breed,” writes Savage. They led a dangerous life and knowing how to handle a gun well was essential, especially knowing when to pull the trigger (the Quick-Draw). They often bragged about their abilities and could be ruthless with a gun. Many learned to handle guns as children or during the Civil War, but grew corrupt over time and became outlaws. They often lived out their lives in gangs, robbing banks, trains, ranches, stagecoaches, and similar. The James Gang, for example, robbed trains and banks for nearly fifteen years before they were stopped. Some gunfighters, however, became lawmen and fought against these outlaws. Townspeople in western frontier towns and settlers in outlying areas were desperate for law and order, and often joined forces with the lawmen. The majority of outlaws lost their lives in shoot-outs or went to prison for their crimes, while many lawmen died fighting them. Savage describes this violent period in U.S. history as spanning from post Civil War to around the turn of the century. Some of the outlaws described are the James Gang (Jesse James), the Doolin Gang, Billy the Kid, and the Wild Bunch (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, and Bat Masterson are among the lawmen also described. Similar to other books in the series, Quick-Draw Gunfighters is a short read, as are the Glossary, Index, and Further Reading list at the end, to appeal to reluctant middle grade readers. Boys in particular will be drawn to the dialogue and live action depictions of actual gunfights. Black and white photos from the period are included, adding authenticity to events and individuals portrayed. Resources are listed for each chapter.

Copyright 2013 © Sharon Himsl

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