Some of the American West’s grandest legends are about people who in reality were remorseless killers, robbers, and bandits. These outlaws flourished during the 1800s and gained notoriety throughout the following century. How did their fame persist, and what has inspired the publishing, movie, and television industries to recreate their fictionalized careers over and over again?
Mark Dugan brings reality to the forefront in The Making of Legends. Some of the characters in his accounts are practically unknown but deserve more recognition than the bandits whose names are mythic. Exhaustive archival research enables him to recreate such colorful lives as North Carolina’s Malina Blaylock, who, disguised as a man, joined her outlaw husband in the Confederate army; slippery escape artist David Lewis, the Robin Hood of the Cumberland, who finally stopped two bullets in a chaotic Pennsylvania shoot-out; Wyatt Earp, in his mysterious post-OK Corral year, amidst the Coeur d’Alene gold rush; and grim “Laughing Sam” Hartman, of South Dakota.
Dugan sets the stage by explaining how newspapers and dime novels fanned the flames of public fascination with outlaws. He unmasks the real Billy the Kid, traces the paths of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to their historic shoot-out in South America, and masterfully summarizes the Civil War grudges, bloodshed, and wanton destruction along the Kansas-Missouri border that spawned Jesse and Frank James and the Younger brothers gang.
In researching the lawless era of the American frontier, Dugan discovered much information that has never been published — material that will expand readers' views of frontier history and people, both good and bad. The Making of Legends proves that the actual stories of notorious legends can be more exciting, moving, and intriguing than anything dreamed up in a dime novel or a Hollywood fantasy.
With The Making of Legends Mark Dugan’s pursuit of outlaws takes him to Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas, California, South Dakota, Idaho, Oregon, Nebraska, Indiana, Wyoming, and Montana.