Book Review: "Lawmen of the Old West Unmasked" by Jesse Wolf Hardin

by Boge Quinn

photography by Boge Quinn

July 16th, 2014


Click pictures for a larger version.







Among his many talents, Jesse Hardin is a gifted illustrator, and this book includes a good number of fine examples of Hardin's artistry.



Back in 2007, I reviewed a book called "Old Guns and Whispering Ghosts", written by a fellow with whom I was unfamiliar at the time, Jesse "Wolf" Hardin. Since that time, Jesse has contributed several articles to Gunblast, and has allowed us to publish excerpts from Old Guns. I have maintained a friendship of correspondence with Jesse, and although I have not yet met the man face-to-face, I believe I know him pretty well: as I said in my review of "Old Guns", Jesse is a man of many talents, and this is something I greatly admire. More importantly for our purposes, Jesse is able to concisely and effectively communicate the nuances of his ideas, and to do it in a way that is both fascinating and entertaining. That is, Jesse's writings are not only instructive, but fun to read as well.

Jesse was raised as a city boy, but at a young age he became enraptured with tales of the Old West, nature, and antiquities. He set off to find himself in the wilderness as a boy, discovering that the ways of the Old West best suited his nature; he and his family currently live, as he puts it, "seven river crossings from the nearest road", in the Gila wildlands of Southwest New Mexico.

Jesse's lifetime of training and surviving as a man of the Old West has served him well, giving him the experiences that his writing and illustration skills allow him to share with those of us who will never know such a life. Jesse shares his life and his skills in various magazines, including GUNS, Grey's Sporting Journal, Mother Earth News, and The International Arms & Militaria Collector, and he is the co-publisher of Plant Healer Magazine, the foremost publication for plant herbalists. Jesse's eclectic tastes allow him to write authoritatively on subjects ranging from firearms (both modern and antique), to history, hunting, cooking, herbal medicine, art, music, and politics. He lives a life firmly rooted in the past, but with an eye towards the future, and his abilities as a storyteller allow him to take us along on his philosophical journeys. 

Lawmen of the Old West Unmasked: Heroes, Scoundrels, and the Famous Fighting Pimp is Jesse's latest book, published a little over a month ago. In it, Jesse gives us an historically accurate look at eleven of the most fascinating lawmen of the historic American West. The chapters in the book deal with the following characters, some more famous than others:

Burton Mossman
Wyatt Earp
Harry Morse
Bucky O'Neill
John Joshua Webb
Wild Bill Hickock
Pat Garrett
Bat Masterson
George Scarborough
Bear River Tom Smith
Elfego Baca

While some of the chapters in this book explore men who are lesser-known than their more-famous counterparts, allowing us (well, me, at least) to learn about great men and great deeds which are largely undiscovered except to the true students of history, where this book really shines is in its true and unblinking portrayal of the MEN behind the legends. Not a piece of revisionist history, this book is rather an honest appraisal of the men behind the legendary deeds, complete with the human failings which plague us all. All men, no matter how great or small, share this common trait: we are all human, and we all have human flaws. In learning the true characters of these legendary lawmen, we learn who they really were, and we can further appreciate the motivations of those heroes of our youth, whether those motivations be honorable or less than honorable. Jess Hardin allows us to see these men for what they really were; the wrinkles on the heroic face, the clay feet of the Idol. This is the great value of Lawmen of the Old West Unmasked: through Jesse Herdin's talent as a writer, we can see history for what it really is, not as colored by the inaccuracies of the books, movies, and television programs we watched as children.

I was greatly honored to be asked by Jesse to write a Foreword to this book. It was my first experience at such; while I enjoyed the experience greatly, and was humbled to be asked to write a Foreword by a man whom I admire, I was especially pleased when I received my copy of the finished publication to find my name on the cover along with a man whom I had idolized in my younger days, and who I am in my seasoned years honored to call my friend and brother Shootist: John Taffin, who wrote an Introduction for the book.

I highly recommend all of Jesse's writings, but Lawmen of the Old West Unmasked stands as a work of particular historical value, and manages to be quite entertaining as well. At only $14.99 at the time of this writing, it represents a great value as well as being an historically significant work. It can be ordered directly by following this link

To learn more about the author, Jesse Wolf Hardin, and to order his other books, click here.

Lawmen of the Old West Unmasked: Heroes, Scoundrels, and the Famous Fighting Pimp - 168 pages, Softcover, Black & White, 6" x 9", ISBN/EAN13: 1499650175 / 9781499650174, Publication Date: May 27 2014.

Boge Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



Author Jesse "Wolf" Hardin.





The book is generously illustrated with historical photographs.



Boge was honored to write the foreword for this book, and to be included with the great John Taffin, who wrote the introduction.