A range war was brewing, and even though Sundance wanted no part of it, fate dealt him in anyway. But right from the start, the odds were stacked against him.
To begin with, there was the vicious land baron Lem Barkalow and his hired killer, Beecher Strawn. Then there was Col Garvey and his wild bunch—Ear-cutter Jack, who had killed at least thirty men and taken an ear from each victim, dried it, and strung it on a necklace he wore draped around his neck; Weasel—tall, unbelievably slim, almost chinless, his eyes a strange red-glinting hue and as blood-thirsty as his namesake; Chico Lopez, the artist with the knife; Garth, the powder-man, who could take a can of Hercules, or this new-fangled dynamite, and open any safe anybody had ever built.
But Sundance didn’t care about the odds. He was going to play the game right down to the last, bloody hand.
About the Author
John Benteen was the pseudonym for Benjamin Leopold Haas born in Charlotte , North Carolina in 1926. In his entry for CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS, Ben told us he inherited his love of books from his German-born father, who would bid on hundreds of books at unclaimed freight auctions during the Depression. His imagination was also fired by the stories of the Civil War and Reconstruction told by his Grandmother, who had lived through both. “My father was a pioneer operator of motion picture theatres”, Ben wrote. “So I had free access to every theatre in Charlotte and saw countless films growing up, hooked on the lore of our own South and the Old West.” A family friend, a black man named Ike who lived in a cabin in the woods, took him hunting and taught him to love and respect the guns that were the tools of that trade. All of these influences – seeing the world like a story from a good book or movie, heartfelt tales of the Civil War and the West, a love of weapons – register strongly in Ben’s own books. Dreaming about being a writer, 18-year-old Ben sold a story to a Western pulp magazine. He dropped out of college to support his family. He was self-educated. And then he was drafted, and sent to the Philippines. Ben served as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1946. Returning home, Ben went to work, married a Southern belle named Douglas Thornton Taylor from Raleigh in 1950, lived in Charlotte and in Sumter in South Carolina , and then made Raleigh his home in 1959. Ben and his wife had three sons, Joel, Michael and John. Ben held various jobs until 1961, when he was working for a steel company. He had submitted a manuscript to Beacon Books, and an offer for more came just as he was laid off at the steel company. He became a full-time writer for the rest of his life. Ben wrote every day, every night. “I tried to write 5000 words or more everyday, scrupulous in maintaining authenticity”, Ben said. His son Joel later recalled, “My Mom learned to go to sleep to the sound of a typewriter”.