American West and Biography

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Charlie Siringo's West: An Interpretive Biography

Howard R. Lamar

Charlie Siringo (1855-1928) lived the quintessential life of adventure on the American frontier as a cowboy, Pinkerton detective, writer, and later as a consultant for early western films. Siringo was one of the most attractive, bold, and original characters to live and flourish in the final decades of the Wild West. Siringo's love of the cattle business and of cowboy life were so great that in 1885 he published a rollicking, picaresque account of his experiences in A Texas Cowboy, or Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony--Taken From Real Life, which Will Rogers dubbed "The Cowboy's Bible." In short, Siringo was a key player in shaping the romantic image of the Wild West cowboy.

Howard Lamar's biography deftly shares Siringo's story with historians and the general public interested in the American West. Lamar's account is structured within seventy-five pivotal years of western history, from the Civil War in Texas to Hollywood's glorification of the West in the 1920s. Siringo was not a mere observer, but a participant in major historical events including the Coeur d'Alene mining strikes of the 1890s and Big Bill Haywood's trial in 1907. Within this framework, Lamar focuses on Siringo's youthful struggles to employ his abundant athleticism and ambitions and how Siringo's varied experiences helped develop the compelling national myth of the cowboy.


Howard R. Lamar is Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale and a former president of that university.


"This book is a must for Western aficionados; however, it's also excellent reading for labor historians. In addition, it's a plain good old read. Anyone interested in Americana should pluck it up."


The Oklahoman

"Lamar offers a fresh perspective..."


Journal of the West

"...Siringo would have been flattered to know that someday a historian of Howard R. Lamar's stature would think him worthy of a 'life and times' biography. Luck was a theme in Siringo's life, and this work indicates that good fortune is still on his side."


Great Plains Quarterly

6 x 9 in. 384 pages 68 halftones, 9 maps