Mark Warren
Johnny Tyler
Fri Aug 16, 2019 07:46

I feel compelled to offer a review of Peter Brand's new book, because for me it is a game-changer. Thank you, Peter.

Johnny Tyler
By Peter Brand

Peter Brandís new book, "Johnny Tyler," is a revelation. No other book has more viscerally described the gambling world of the Old West from the late 1800ís into the early 1900ís. The atmosphere of desperation, violence, and factionalism among the professional sporting men who swooped down on boomtowns to tap into the lush flow of money is both sordid and dangerous, but it must be understood by us if we hope to grasp the character of men who frequented these dens of chance. Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, and Luke Short reckoned themselves as gamblers. Now, thanks to Brandís exposure of Johnny Tylerís story, we learn that the gaming venue was not for the faint of heart.
The competitive division of California ďSlopersĒ and Kansan/Dakotan ďEasternersĒ was rather recently exposed to us aficionados of Western history, but Brand has nailed it in place for us by his wide grasp of the schism and how it dominated the gambling worlds of Tombstone, Pioche Leadville, Denver, San Francisco and a parade of boomtowns across the West. I have marveled at his finesse in molding a series of newspaper articles and other records into a flowing narrative that captivates a reader. This was no mean feat. I felt as if I were reading the account of someone (Brand) who had lived through the experience and knew how to expose the underbelly of the beast and the continuity of the day-to-day life in these nascent villages.
I admire how Brand has pieced together snippets of journalism and cobbled them into a strong and continuous narrative. This would seem to be a most daunting task. His overview of his subject allows him to ferret out the mistakes, biases, and blatant propagandas that often surfaced in local newspapers. By doing this he keeps the reader on track and dispels the confusion that can ambush a researcher by an unexpected bit of news. Brand paints a convincing portrait of this business, which dominated every town. As he tells us, there were more saloons/gambling houses in any given boom town than any other commercial enterprise. This statistic alone insists that we researchers analyze the ambience of the gambling world. It was the major venue of activity. How can we know the men who lived it and breathed it . . . if we canít grasp the physical and psychological nature of these aleatory industries? Brand lays it all out.
Where gaps exist in the extant records, Brand offers his admitted suppositions in filling these holes. These gifts of insight were most welcome, and I found myself trusting his judgment at every turn. But he is careful to differentiate fact from possibilities. Thankfully, Brand writes without the burden of author ego or agenda. These are two of his cachets that have endeared him to history buffs. We believe him and appreciate his scholarly guesses.
I found Johnny Tyleróthe manóto be obsessed with gambling, despicable, untrustworthy, dirty, self-serving to the extreme, amoral, and desperate. He was bold or cowardly, depending upon the strength or weakness of his current adversary. His character literally depressed me, but Brand kept pulling me forward. Tylerís life, in the bigger picture of Westward expansion, was a wasted life. This makes him a tragedy of sorts, yet I never felt my sympathy evoked for the man. How Peter Brand pulled off such a compelling story about such a despicable character is a salute to the writer.
Especially rewarding is the section on Doc Holliday, Tylerís enemy and every readerís favorite gunfighting dentist. This is a nice balance. It could be argued that these antagonists led similar lives, but with Doc the reader can open the flood gates of empathy. Brand gives us someone to care about. Holliday would smile in his grave if he could see how his part in Tylerís story is a redeeming one.
Having read all Brandís other published works, I can say that I am witness to his evolution as a writer. This book is beautifully crafted. As a dedicated student of the West, I am now elevated to a higher perch of understanding about life in the boomtowns. Brandís insight has expanded my view of this history. In a sense, everything I knew is changed now. In reading "Johnny Tyler," as I realized the writerís contribution to my edification, I began to devour the book, and this was easy to do because this narrative flows, sometimes approaching the anticipation and edginess of a best-seller novel.
Peter Brand is like a magician, presenting these prized gems to us historians who crave the truth about the West. I canít wait to see what he pulls out of his hat next.

~ by the author of the trilogy, "Wyatt Earp, an American Odyssey"

    • Bookfinder.comRoy B Young, Thu Aug 22 14:13
      Visit to order a copy of Peter's book. This is the number one books sales site.
    • Re: Johnny TylerWayne Sanderson, Thu Aug 22 13:03
      A glowing review, and I couldn't add a thing. Great read- Congratulations Peter!
    • Mark WarrenEddie Lanham, Sat Aug 17 03:25
      That is one of the best book reviews I have ever read. Period.
    • I should have purchased...Eddie Lanham, Sat Aug 17 03:23
      along with a few other books at the WWHA Round-up in Cheyenne, but with limited luggage space I opted to have Mr. Amazon deliver to my door. When I searched on Amazon it replied, "Did you mean Johnny ... more
      • Peter Brand's bookLinda Wommack, Sat Aug 17 09:14
        Like Eddie, I too had little room for extra luggage at WWHA in Cheyenne. Perhaps Peter could look into direct mail from Australia and we could send him a check.
        • Tombstone Vendetta LinkJeff Morey, Sat Aug 17 12:16
          Linda, Use the ďLink to Tombstone VendettaĒ at the top of this forum. Jean Smith accepts checks or you can use PayPal. It worked fine for me. My Best, Jeff Morey
    • Terrific Review!Jeff Morey , Fri Aug 16 11:59
      Mark, My copy arrived yesterday. I am enjoying it enormously. My Best, Jeff Morey
    • johnny Tyler bookDon johnson, Fri Aug 16 08:46
      So why not put it on Amazon where it easy to order? I gave up after seeing all one had to do to order it
      • Amazon, at least...Victoria Wilcox, Fri Aug 16 21:05
        I've twice requested Paypal info to order Peter's book and still not received a reply. This book needs to be easier to purchase and more widely publicized!
        • PaypalPeter Brand, Fri Aug 16 22:10
          Hi Victoria I will look into it and let you know via email. Pb
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