A quite extraordinary piece of historical recreation in a biographical novel based on the life of Jim Bowie, whose name has been immortalized in the ""bowie knife"". From the time of his youthful invasion of the effete city of New Orleans, still much more French and Spanish than American in 1817, to his death in the Alamo in 1836, his was a life teaming, with the spirit and mood of a frontier region. Bowie, fresh from the untutored bayous, found New Orleans and particularly its women, tempting and alluring and defeating. He won renown of sorts as a duellist; his famous knife-""the iron mistress""-served him well, but romance caught him unaware and hurt him to the core, lessening his . New Orleans-Natchez -- eventually Texas where, in Mexican Bexar he became a Mexican, married a Mexican belle who gave him his brief era of sheer happiness-such the shifting background against which his prowess, his dauntless courage, his ingenuity in achieving impossible goals won him fame perhaps beyond his deserts. It is a vigorous story, lusty, vital, primarily a man's story- and good Americana. Once again Paul Wellman how impossible it is to label and pigeonhole his talents.