Biography •  American West and Journalism

$45.00 hardcover

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El Paso's Muckraker: The Life of Owen Payne White

Garna L. Christian

A muckraking newspaperman who was once nationally known as a historian of the West, Owen Payne White (1879–1946) brought local history to center stage, intrigued readers nationally with tales of the Old West, and spotlighted corruption in high and low places. This long-overdue biography restores this overlooked writer to the forefront of western history and journalism.

White spent his early writing career as a newspaper columnist until his history of El Paso, Out of the Desert: The Historical Romance of El Paso, catapulted him into the major leagues of journalism when the publisher brought it to the attention of the New York Times and the American Mercury. White moved to New York and went on to publish eight books on the Old West, an autobiography, and dozens of articles as a staff editor at Collier’s. He uncovered hypocrisy, heroism, and crime, earning national recognition as well as death threats and a million-dollar lawsuit. His knowledge of Mexico also allowed him to follow leads south of the border, where he covered the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution. Through it all, White never lost his sardonic wit, his scrupulous directness, or his intellectual and political independence.


Garna L. Christian is a professor of history at the University of Houston–Downtown and a fellow of the Texas State Historical Association. Among the awards he won for his book Black Soldiers in Jim Crow Texas, 1899–1917 was the T. R. Fehrenbach Book Award from the Texas Historical Commission. Christian’s most recent book is George Sessions Perry: The Man and His Words.


“This groundbreaking biography presents a fascinating character and setting in (Owen Payne) White and El Paso.”


Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“Christian has rescued from obscurity the story of a muckraking journalist who wrote prolifically between the world wars. . . . El Paso’s Muckraker is well grounded in primary sources and is a pleasure to read.”


Journal of Southern History

6 x 9 in. 208 pages 9 halftones