Old Western Books from...Old West Books
Item 105 is a book about the definitely real Billy the Kid: The True Life of Billy the Kid, by Don Jenardo (likely pseudonym for John Woodruff Lewis). However, this does not make the book an accurate "true" portrayal. This is where the legend begins. Published just six weeks after the Kid's death (or "death"), Lewis paints his subject as evil personified, a psychotic killer with no recognizable humanity. In time, the image would soften, and some would come to see him as more of a Robin Hood than merciless killer, the true Billy likely being something in between. This earliest account/exaggeration should be considered more as historical fiction than unbiased biography. Today it is very rare, with only a few copies known to exist. $8,750.
The details of the lives of most western gunslingers are filled with more disputes than facts. This would certainly apply to perhaps the most notorious of them all, Jesse James. However, author Frank Triplett believed he had it right, and was not shy to so proclaim in the title of his 1882 book: The Life, Times and Treacherous Death of Jesse James. The only correct and authorized edition. Giving full particulars of each and every dark and desperate deed in the career of this most noted outlaw of any time or nation. The facts and incidents contained in this volume were dictated to Frank Triplett by Mrs. Jesse James, wife of the bandit, and Mrs. Zeralda Samuel, his mother. Consequently every secret act, every hitherto unknown incident, every crime and every motive is herein disclosed. Truth is more interesting than fiction. Triplett published his book almost as quickly as Lewis, just seven weeks after James' death, interviewing family members barely after the body turned cold. The speed of publication indicates he was probably preparing this book even while James was alive. Is Triplett's book quite as accurate as he portrayed? Those he interviewed were not necessarily impartial witnesses and it is not clear just how right he got it. Nevertheless, this is an interesting, contemporary account of James life, a book now rare, perhaps because it was to some extent suppressed. Item 138 is a first issue of the first edition. $2,950.
Old West Books may be reached at 719-260-6030 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is www.oldwestbooks.com.