9 halftones

El Paso's Muckraker

The Life of Owen Payne White
By 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.

Contributor Bios
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.