The cover of this book states it covers the Games, The Gamblers and the Great Gambling Halls of the Old West. It does exactly that in a vividly descriptive narrative that will help you feel the passion of the gamblers of those Old West Stories we all love.
BUT WAIT; THERE’S MORE.
This book covers Old West History from a unique perspective not often explored. Most works about Old West Stories will mention gambling in passing, focusing on other historical aspects of the era. This work puts into perspective how those gamblers in Old West Stories shaped the events more commonly referred to. This is mostly because almost every man who went West was a gambler.
This book points out that the act of heading West into the frontier was an act of gambling in itself. It included gambling your life itself to seek the potential that awaited. Many died, most failed to achieve great wealth and only a few created the life they dreamed of and that we fondly look back on.
Many of the Gunslingers, Lawmen and Settlers of the time were gamblers. Famous Lawman Wyatt Earp is a great example. Famed mostly for his law keeping reputation, he was an expert gambler and even owned his own gambling operation on more than one ocassion. This Part of Old West History is worthy of further reading and the reading this subject gets no better than this book.
If you aren’t particularly interested in the gambling aspect of Old West Stories don’t assume this book is not for you. If you are interested in the lifestyle of the Old West at all (and lets face it, you would not be on this site if you weren’t) there will be information and stories here for you. An aspect of this book that particularly appeals to me is the Glossary and Index pages. They are some of the most comprehensive I have seen and Ron has kindly consented to allowing me to recreate his Glossary here on this web site. So to get a feel for his high quality work, follow the link to GLOSSARY and check it out.
Its index and annotated bibliography are easy to use, being very comprehensive. I know I will be keeping this book on my shelf within easy reach for reference purposes. This book has over 400 entries in the Index and several pages listed for many of the topics listed, eg: Bat Masterson alone is mentioned on 10 separate pages.
So the short review is:-
“A great work that makes a significant addition
to the historical record of the Old West.”
The Detailed Review
For more information, take the link to the Review Pages for a more detailed analysis.
The Author is Mr G.R. (Ron) Williamson
Ron Williamson is a storyteller, western writer, a member of The Western Writers of America and The Wild West History Association. His keen interest in real Old West Stories and authentic wild west history and broad knowledge of the topic are apparent in the book reviewed here. Ron has given several presentations at the National Outlaw & Lawman History Association (NOLA) and at the Wild West History Association (WWHA) annual meetings on topics including John Coffee Hays, Ben Thompson, King Fisher and frontier gambling.
Ron truly knows his subject. His knowledge began to accumulate during early childhood treks with his grandfather whilst growing up in the rough brasada of South Texas. The Mexican legends and wild west lore he experienced through the stories passed down by those who lived the legend gives the magical era a reality that I often wish I had experienced.
Ron has published articles in newspapers and in national magazines, written screen plays and received several awards for his work.
The writing style employed by Ron Williamson in “Frontier Gambling” has the touch of the master about it. If you watch the movie “True Grit“, John Wayne or Jeff Bridges (depending on which version you have) draw you into the story and you can see yourself as the Texas Ranger tracking down the murderer and protecting Mattie Ross as you go. If you read “Rogue River” by Kerry Newcombe you will become Cole Anthem as he battles to bring in a murderer and protect everyone around him as they flee Indians on a wild river ride. If you Listen to the old “Gunsmoke” radio episodes and close your eyes you will become the brave and intrepid Sheriff Matt Dillon who would take on incredible odds to overcome evil and protect the citizens of HIS town.
The best fictional stories achieve this. In a work of non-fiction it a true rarity. Not since that wonder collection of Old West Stories in Dee Brown’s epic “Buy My Heart at Wounded Knee” have I found myself drawn into the narrative of a non-fiction work in this way. I highly recommend “Frontier Gambling” to all enthusiasts of Old West Stories. I have a small shelf above my desk where I keep a few treasured works that I want to keep at hand. “Frontier Gambling“ by G R Williamson is being added to that shelf.
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