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

Overview

The legend of Bat Masterson as the heroic sheriff of Dodge City, Kansas, began in 1881 when an acquaintance duped a New York Sun reporter into writing Masterson up as a man-killing gunfighter. That he later moved to New York City to write a widely followed sports column for eighteen years is one of history’s great ironies, as Robert K. DeArment relates in this engaging new book.

William Barclay “Bat” Masterson spent the first half of his adult life in the West, planting the ...

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

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Overview

The legend of Bat Masterson as the heroic sheriff of Dodge City, Kansas, began in 1881 when an acquaintance duped a New York Sun reporter into writing Masterson up as a man-killing gunfighter. That he later moved to New York City to write a widely followed sports column for eighteen years is one of history’s great ironies, as Robert K. DeArment relates in this engaging new book.

William Barclay “Bat” Masterson spent the first half of his adult life in the West, planting the seeds for his later legend as he moved from Texas to Kansas and then Colorado. In Denver his gambling habit and combative nature drew him to the still-developing sport of prizefighting. Masterson attended almost every important match in the United States from the 1880s to 1921, first as a professional gambler betting on the bouts, and later as a promoter and referee. Ultimately, Bat stumbled into writing about the sport.

In Gunfighter in Gotham, DeArment tells how Bat Masterson built a second career from a column in the New York Morning Telegraph. Bat’s articles not only covered sports but also reflected his outspoken opinions on war, crime, politics, and a changing society. As his renown as a boxing expert grew, his opinions were picked up by other newspaper editors and reprinted throughout the country and abroad. He counted President Theodore Roosevelt among his friends and readers.

This follow-up to DeArment’s definitive biography of the Old West legend narrates the final chapter of Masterson’s storied life. Far removed from the sweeping western plains and dusty cowtown streets of his younger days, Bat Masterson, in New York City, became “a ham reporter,” as he called himself, “a Broadway guy.”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806142630
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 2/22/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 461,666
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert K. DeArment is a University of Toledo, Ohio, graduate whose special field of interest is nineteenth-century American history with special emphasis on outlaws and law enforcement in the frontier West. He is the author of Bat Masterson: The Man and the Legend, also published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

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