The real lives of the historic figures in Old West Showdown are shrouded in controversy and myth. Was Jesse James a Southern Son fighting for the cause of the fallen Confederacy, or a blood-thirsty cutthroat justly pursued by the authorities? Was Billy the Kid a misunderstood youth or a cold-blooded killer? Did Buffalo Bill Cody truly ride for the Pony Express as a young man? Or, was he just a blowhard who trumped up his own past in an attempt to seem more heroic in the eyes of audiences attending his Wild West shows? In Old West Showdown, dueling authors Bill Markley and Kellen Cutsforth draw on fact and folklore to present opposing viewpoints pertaining to controversies surrounding some of the most well-known characters and events in the history of the Old West.
Bill Markley is a member of Western Writers of America (WWA) and is a staff writer for WWA’s Roundup magazine. He is a contributor for True West, Wild West, and South Dakota magazines, and he also writes about influential figures of the Old West in his Legendary West book series. He reenacts Civil War infantry and frontier cavalry and has participated in the movies: Dances With Wolves, Son of the Morning Star, Far and Away, Gettysburg and Crazy Horse. Markley and his wife, Liz, live in Pierre, South Dakota, where they raised their two children.
Kellen Cutsforth is a professional writer and is the author of Buffalo Bill, Boozers, Brothels and Bare Knuckle Brawlers: An Englishman’s Journal of Adventure in America (TwoDot: 2015) and Buffalo Bill and the Birth of American Celebrity (TwoDot: 2021). He has also published over 20 articles featured in Wild West magazine, True West magazine, Western Writers of America (WWA) Roundup magazine, and the Denver Posse of Westerners Roundup periodical. Cutsforth lives in Littleton, Colorado.
Was Jesse James a common criminal or a defender of the South? Which side was at fault in the so-called O.K. Corral gunfight? Was Buffalo Bill a legendary figure or a self-created PR character? Bill Markley and Kellen Cutsforth take on those questions and others with a point-counterpoint approach—and let you decide what to believe. . . . It’s a refreshing and appealing take.
As a history enthusiast and mayor of the Old West town where Wild Bill and Calamity Jane are buried, I enjoyed and learned from this book . . . [especially] from the multiple accounts and perspectives provided by Markley and Cutsforth.