Gunfighter in Gotham: Bat Masterson’s New York City Years

Robert K DeArment, Author
Robert K. DeArment. Univ. of Oklahoma, $29.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8061-4263-0
Reviewed on: 01/07/2013
Release date: 02/01/2013
Hardcover - 305 pages - 978-0-8061-8909-3
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-8061-4414-6
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Bat Masterson (1853–1921) gained fame through both documented gunfighting and a practical joke played on an eastern reporter, but the Wild West figure created a second legendary persona as a well-dressed New York sportswriter who commanded respect from everyone from “the toughs of Hell’s Kitchen” to the man in the Oval Office. In DeArment’s portrait of Bat’s later years, he emerges as a remarkably adaptable, self-described “ham reporter” and “Broadway guy,” who nevertheless dragged along a “quintessential nineteenth-century American male perspective” into the modern era: he was against women’s suffrage even as they got the vote, racial epithets were not uncommon in his columns, and Prohibition roused him to call for “an uprising of the people” against “intolerant human misfits... masquerading under the cloak of religion.” Throughout his peregrinations from the West to the East coasts, Bat made his opinions known, forged alliances with frontiersmen and politicians alike (including Buffalo Bill and Teddy Roosevelt), and helped to legitimize professional boxing during the Jack Dempsey and Jack Johnson era. DeArment (Bat Masterson: The Man and the Legend) makes it clear that the honest, irascible, hot-tempered Canadian earned his place in American folklore, fighting till the very end on behalf of truth and tradition. 15 b&w illus. (Feb.)
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