A Breed Apart: A Novel of Wild Bill Hickok, by Max McCoy ISBN 9781585479597
Five out of five stars
Although his given name was James Butler Hickok, history, legend and myth all refer to him as Wild Bill Hickok. Although he did some of the things that have been claimed, his exploits have been greatly exaggerated by Hickok as well as by those that wrote about him. It all starts with precisely how many men he killed, both as a lawman and as a man living on the edge of the law.
This novel is based on some facts, particularly his actions during the American Civil War and his work as a Union spy and a scout. One event in particular stands out, it is the gunfight he had with onetime friend Davis Tutt, where both drew their pistols in what was likely the first “fast draw” form of duel made so popular in the Western video genre.
It is an interesting read, Hickok was a complex man, deadly with a gun and willing to tell the tallest of stories, mostly about himself. Hickok also had many allies in the media when it came to making the tall tales of his exploits even taller. Like many men of western legend, he was sometimes the law and other times the target of legal accusations. I enjoyed it very much, it encapsulates the complexity of the men that fought on and died in the American frontier.