Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know this is an unflinching portrait of a tough man living in a tough time and place. Bass Reeves is presented as an honorable man, but violence and racism inform much of his life story. An escaped slave, Reeves carved out a remarkable career arresting thousands of outlaws in a notoriously difficult region. Racism, violence, and gunplay are integral to the story, but are presented somberly.
What's the story?
Bass Reeves was the longest-serving deputy U.S. marshal in Indian Territory. In over 32 years, the former slave arrested more than 3,000 outlaws -- and killed only 14. He earned a reputation for being honest, fearless, a crack shot, and clever.
Is it any good?
Vaunda Micheaux Nelson brings Bass Reeves' story to light with vibrant writing, a wealth of resources, and a strong sense of time and place. Reeves had a long, successful career as a renowned lawman, but his story is overshadowed by such contemporaries as Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok. A glossary explains some of the “Western” expressions, such as dry-gulch, shooting irons, and tumbleweed wagon; less patient readers might struggle with the unfamiliar expressions, but more likely kids will be drawn in by the sense of adventure. Micheaux doesn't romanticize the Old West, instead giving a gritty account of the hard realities of the late 19th century.
Strong strokes in the colorful paintings by R. Gregory Christie underscore Reeves’ tough, larger-than-life presence.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about honesty. Reeves had a reputation for being “honest as the day is long,” but he donned disguises to deceive outlaws and capture them. What do you think of his ruses? Were they fair? Do you still consider him an honest man?
Reeves couldn’t read, yet he still succeeded in bringing in thousands of outlaws. Do you think he was smart?
Reeves’ family -- a wife and 11 children -- are briefly mentioned, but the author doesn’t discuss his family life much. How do you think they felt about his job and lifestyle?
Why do you think Reeves took on such a dangerous, difficult career? What do you think appealed to him?