tv Tom Clavin Wild Bill CSPAN September 7, 2019 11:43am-12:01pm EDT
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[inaudible >> you're watching c-span2, television for serious leaders, libertarian conference in las vegas, we are talking with authors, new york times reporter tom whose most recent book is this, the true story of the american frontiers first gunfighter, what do we know about wild bill, what should we know about him? >> not much. there hasn't been -- there hadn't been biography since 1960's, most of what we know is fabrications, famous outlaw, he was one of the most dynamic
marshals, lawmen of the wild west, that's true to some extent but he also spent a long time not wearing a badge, he was a great gunman, i would shoot anybody, that's true, the only way he died is that somebody shot him in the back, so so much we don't know about him, he was a civil war spy, he spent 2 years in the civil war behind confederate lines righting for the union army, we have rumor, that t love of his life is jane, big part of that because movie, that's not true. so things that we don't know that are to be unearthed. as interesting or more interesting than anything. >> was he known comp temporarily?
>> he was, he was the first civil war, you can make the argument with custard, he was the first civil war western celebrity and the reason he had a resume built by gunfighter staff civil war, but the author new york magazine, sent the reporter out to interview him and did an article about him and it was enormous hit. thousands and thousands and thousands of people back east read about it and had image of wild bill as iconic original lone gunman of the frontier. some were true and some had image, the individual, gunman, a lot of that was true and people found out about it while he was
young man. >> what did gunmen do? >> try today stay alive, in the case he was the winner of what is first reported gunfight in american west, up to that point, they were called duals, famous one being alexander hamilton. in 1865 missouri, you see which one is still standing. >> in front of an audience? >> they'll be paid for it, this happened in town square. this guy had stolen his watch. i'm going walk around parade it. so he was actually calling him
out. the gunman is faster and more calculating than anyone had ever seen before. he became the american frontier and others came along to rival him in fame, but he was undisputed heavy weight champion of gun until he died. >> how did he survived? >> mostly he was a gambler, one of the things fascinating working on the book, for an individual with little transportation he got around a lot, he was in arizona, new mexico, texas, he would gamble, that's how he made his money. at times he was lawman, he also
worked off and on for years as a federal marshal, he would track down people who have stolen u.s. mail, things like that. one time he made -- his friend buffalo bill came to him when hicock was out of a job and it's you and me and a couple of other people and a pretty girl and we are going basically just do this campfire on stage talking about and reenacting some adventures, when they offered him a $100 a week he kept it. it was a huge hit, lines around the block to get in and month after month -- i have a quote from buffalo bill's wife, one night he had enough, took out his gun and shot the lights out and walked out of theater and
took next train back west. >> how did he and buffalo bill become friends? who was buffalo bill? >> the very first cody lost his father and trying to make money to support mother and sisters working on wagon train and one of the drivers was bill hicock and one day cody was only 12 at the time, bully, went to beat him up and hicock took care of the bully and they became friends. during the civil war, buffalo bill union soldier, after the war scouts together, they roamed the plains guiding wagon trains and u.s. army contingents. stayed that way.
he was embraced by embraced by family, they remained very close friends until hicock died. he didn't live enough for that. he died in august of 1876 in south dakota, he was gunned down, cowardly shot him from behind during poker game and that was 1876. buffalo bill didn't get going with wild west show in 80's. >> what was deawood, south carolina in 1876 and what was the reason? >> gold had been discovered in the hills, expedition by custard and it was protected with sacred land, protected and, the
administration did try to keep people out for a while, and then got overwhelmed, everyone was rushing in black hills and what happens in most boom towns, silver, suddenly towns spring up because they have to have places, hotels, saloons, places where banks are going to set up shop so they can buy the gold from the miners and no law really, hicock is fine there, people were suddenly getting rich and as good gambler he was happy to take their money. home to hicock. >> where was his wife or the love of his life? >> they hat gotten married in wyoming and gone back to
cincinnati where she had her family, i'm going to go back to deawood and made us a lot of money and retire from everything and come back to you or send it to you and you will come to me and that was the plan and unfortunately jack interrupted that plan. really sad because they had loved each other for years and they both had very different lifestyles and finally decided they weren't getting any younger and they got married and then it was at that unfortunate moment when were spend their lives together he was killed. >> a couple of names come in your book, george custer. >> jess james, they had a couple of encounters with wild bill. what's remarkable to me about hicock he kept encountering these people, you think that how much are you going to cross with people, he did, he was always on the move and so he would keep
encounter the people again and again. >> how much on harper, the harper es -- harper's article and how we thought of the west or think of the west? >> it did, about the same time the harper article came out, the new york tribune, i think it was the harold transcribe ion published article and sent report to find hicock, he tracked him down, so right after the harper's article was established, new york tribune article was published and that also created a lot of tension. the editor said, i've got send you to africa, i want you to look -- but it contributed a lot
to view of the west, we started to see a place of frontier. there were marshals, deputies, there were sheriffs, try and make the -- hicock was a gunfighter and also law man. you started to see that there was american west that was now expanding that was making attempt to join the rest of american civilization and he personified that and became a hero, a lot of kids would read novels. >> this is your second book on the west? >> yes. >> you're a new york times veteran that lives on the east coast? >> yes, i am. this one was not necessarily intended.
i've done a book, came out a couple of years ago and it was fun story, best friends, lawmen together, it was supposed to be one off. >> before you go any further, why was dot city important? >> they sold cattle, put on carts, take it away, cowboy gets paid off and turned into the wickedest town in the american west. fun book and up with off and i had a different book that i was working on. the first week is on national independent book seller's list. i guess back in tour, had lunch with editor, you know what book you're working on right now, i said, yeah, he said forget about the book sellers are asking for
it. is there another one kind of similar that you can think of and that's the first name that popped into my mind. i don't know anything about him. he's played by actors in movies here and there. he's played by charles brunson. that's what happened. i -- okay, let me see if there's a story, turned out to be much bigger story than anticipated. >> what did you think of the portrayal on hbo or showtime? >> i did, i enjoyed portrayal even though he was twice his age at the time. i thought he was really good, in sixth episode i lost interest. i know that series, many people love the series, i can't say anything against it, i didn't feel after wild bill died and so
this was a year before i started working on wild bill book. it's almost like one day you will have a chance to tell people a real story of wild bill. >> how do you research a book like? >> you know, i compared it, at the end of the day maybe you're left because there's so much stuff out there that's not true. fabricated. theromance is an example. you read as much as possible, newspaper articles at the time and any memoirs that people wrote that knew wild bill, some are accurate. you just try and collect swiftly as much as possible and only
improve if you feel comfortable is true, which means -- it's true, i didn't want to do another book that repeated the same old exaggerations. i learned a lot more about landfill than i ever wanted to. i did coverage for a while, interviewed very interesting people. i did business reporting. i wish i could tell and whenever they needed somebody to cover something if i was available -- >> here with tom clavin's book, true story of american frontier
first gunfighter, thanks for previewing this on book tv. >> thank you, my pleasure. >> you're watching book tv on c-span2, the top nonfiction books and authors every weekend, book tv, television for serious readers. .. .. coming up in the next hour we will hear from authors about the city situated along the base of the bighorn mountain range. in a moment the history of rodeo in sheridan.