Reviews for Legend of Bass Reeves : Being the True and Fictional Account of the Most Valiant Marshal in The West


Booklist Reviews 2006 June #1
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 5-8. Aptly subtitled "Being the true and fictional account of the most valiant Marshal in the West," this engrossingly told tale fills in the unrecorded youth of an unjustly obscure historical figure who was born a slave, became a successful rancher, then later in his long life went on to play an integral role in taming the rough-hewn Oklahoma Territory. After opening with clear-eyed looks at what Wild Bill Hickock, Wyatt Earp, and other western legends were really like, Paulsen portrays Reeves as a truer hero, formed into a tough, wily survivor with an unshakable sense of duty by experiences as a child on an isolated Texas ranch and later, as an escaped slave, among residents in the Indian Territory. Closing with reconstructed versions of some of Reeves' astonishing exploits as a lawman, the author makes his case convincingly while dishing up a stirring tale of adventure. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Fall
Paulsen constructs a coming-of-age narrative for Bass Reeves, an African American federal marshal who served in the Indian Territory in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The [cf2]Hatchet[cf1]-like survival story of the young runaway slave is exciting and always plausible; Paulsen also (although without sources) disperses what is known about Reeves's own story throughout the novel. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2006 July #1
Paulsen takes the few facts known about this remarkable man and shapes them into a compelling, even elegant narrative-brief sections of historical fact between longer, fictionalized tales of the boy Bass Reeves was and the man he became. He begins by debunking the so-called "heroes" Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid and Wild Bill Hickok, among others, who were disreputable at best and wicked at worst. He spins out Bass's story: a boy born a slave, kept with his mother and owned by a gambler and a drunkard. He lets readers see how Bass learns the land, and how to hunt and care for himself and his animals. He shows why Bass had to run-hiding in the Indian Territory, leaving his mother behind-and live with the Creek for 22 years. At age 51, honorable and successful, he became a marshal, bringing in hundreds of criminals and never drawing his gun first. Paulsen's telling is rich in both vivid and gory historical detail, from scalping, branding and burying to hunting, butchering and animal care. Completely captivating-begs to be made into a movie. (Historical fiction/nonfiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 July #5

In a foreword to this compelling fictionalized biography (appropriately subtitled, "Being the True and Fictional Account of the Most Valiant Marshal in the West"), Paulsen debunks the myths surrounding some of the Wild West's most celebrated figures. ("All in all, poor stock to consider when looking for role models from our frontier," he writes). As a dramatic alternative, he introduces Bass Reeves as "a man who truly qualified as legendary and heroic," a claim that Paulsen's tale easily supports. The young slave of a drunken rancher, Bass runs away after an altercation with his master (whom he calls "the mister")â€"the man was cheating in a poker game against Reeves in which the captive's freedom were the stakes. Paulsen's lilting prose weaves in colorful details (e.g., a "Jesus stick," two sharpened sticks fashioned into a cross, used to kill rabbits or hens) and historic events, such as the Alamo and the establishment of the Indian Territory. The chapters covering Bass's time among the Creek Indians moves almost too swiftly, but set the stage for the man's later work. (After the Emancipation Proclamation, Bass becomes a successful cattle rancher and, at 51, is appointed a deputy federal marshal, charged with "clean[ing] up" the Indian Territory.) Frequently confronting racial prejudice, Bass nonetheless never draws his gun first, killing only 14 outlaws. Effectively conveying Reeve's thoughts and emotions, the author shapes an articulate, well-deserved tribute to this unsung hero. Ages 10-up. (Aug.)

[Page 76]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 January #4
In a starred review, PW called this "True and Fictional Account of the Most Valiant Marshal in the West" an "articulate and well-deserved tribute to [an] unsung hero." Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Review 2006 August

Gr 6 Up Drawing on newspaper accounts and his own fertile imagination, Paulsen tells Reeves's story. Brief sections give the known facts of this hero's life, set in historical context, and longer, narrative sections (the longest being about his boyhood) fill out the details. The result is a compelling tale of the runaway slave who lived as a fugitive among the Creek Indians for 22 years, until the Emancipation Proclamation freed him to become a cattle rancher in Arkansas and, finally, a federal marshal appointed to help bring order to the Indian Territory. Bring order he did, with thousands of arrests and 14 gunfights to his credit. Paulsen doesn't romanticize the Wild West or flinch from descriptions of the lawlessness (including murder and prostitution) that was rampant in the Territory, but this dark backdrop only serves to illuminate Reeves's heroism. The protagonist is a fully fleshed-out character whose story is made all the more satisfying by the truth behind it.Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI

[Page 128]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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