DODGE CITY: The Most Western Town of All by Odie B. Faulk

DODGE CITY: The Most Western Town of All

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A regional historian of the Southwest, Faulk some years ago rehabilitated the legendary hellhole of Tombstone, Arizona (Tombstone, 1972). Cleaning up Dodge is harder since from the earliest pulps to Gunsmoke it has enjoyed the reputation of the wickedest town in the West. Or, as the Dodge City Times put it in 1878, the frontier boom town built on the pay of buffalo skinners and Texas cattle drovers was the ""Bibulous Babylon of the Plains."" Faulk follows its progress from earliest days when it was no more than a handful of sod dugouts and pitched tents, to the heady years of the Long Branch Saloon, Bat Masterson, card sharks, wild-eyed cowpokes, and ""soiled doves"" with names like Big Emma, Squirrel Tooth Alice, French Mary, and Big Nose Kate. But sadly, the wide-open period lasted for only a decade from the 1870s to the mid-1880s. By then, Dodge had acquired several churches, schools, and a Literary Society--Morality was coming on strong, making Dodge just another little Kansas town. Since Faulk concentrates his attention on the gleeful years of sin, whiskey, and lawless sheriffs-for-hire, his stated goal of avoiding the ""romantic nonsense"" meets with only partial success. Still, the more staid and reputable elements get their due and the picture of ""unrestrained licentiousness"" is at least modified.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press