Friday, April 29, 2011

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Book Jacket

Sitting tall in the saddle, with a wide-brimmed hat and twin Colt pistols on his belt, Bass Reeves seemed bigger than life.  Outlaws feared him.  As a peace-officer, he was cunning and fearless.  When a lawbreaker heard Bass Reeves had his warrant, he knew it was the end of the trail, because Bass always got his man, dead or alive.  He achieved all this in spite of whites who didn't like the notion of a black lawman.

Born into slavery in 1838, Bass had a hard and violent life, but he also had a strong sense of right and wrong that others admired.  When Judge Isaac Parker tried to bring law and order to the lawless Indian Territory, he chose Bass to be a deputy U.S. marshal.  Bass would quickly prove a smart choice.

For three decades, Bass was the most feared and respected lawman in the territories.  He made more than 3,000 arrest, and though he was a crack shot and a quick draw, he killed only fourteen men in the line of duty. 

The story of Bass Reeves is the story of a remarkable African American and a remarkable hero of the Old West.


I've never been overawed by the Wild West, but even so, this book was fascinating.  If that is your thing, then you will probably love a look at one of the coolest Western characters.  And it is true!

This is an excellent book that covers each period of Reeve's life in a page or two.  The author also uses Western slang throughout the story, so this reads much more like entertainment than a dry history lesson.

I was most impressed with Reeve's moral center.  He was so committed to justice that he put his own son in jail.  He caught 3,000 criminals, but he only killed 14.  That is INCREDIBLE.  And throughout his decades of service as a U.S. Marshal, he was never injured.  What the what?  This guy was awesome.

I'm calling it now: let's have a Bass Reeves movie, please!

Four out of five quick draws.

Release Date:  November 2009
Reading Level:  Grade 3+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  BLUESTEM

1 comment:

  1. I've heard such great things about this book! Gotta love a nonfiction read that's enjoyable and accessible for the younger set.

    PS: I too would definitely pet a cheetah, given the opportunity :)