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MARK J. DWORKIN. American Mythmaker: Walter Noble Burns and the Legends of Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, and Joaquín Murrieta

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MARK J. DWORKIN. American Mythmaker: Walter Noble Burns and the Legends of Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, and Joaquín Murrieta. University of Oklahoma Press. Hardcover, 286 pages, $29.95, oupress.com.

It has been said that Walter Noble Burns never let facts get in the way of a good story. Mark Dworkin disagrees. In this thoughtful and exhaustively researched book, Dworkin paints a portrait of a talented and experienced journalist who, in his final years, turned his attention to the Old West and, in the process, set the stage for everything that followed. Operating at a time when scholarly standards were far different than today, Burns tracked down old timers and poured through newspapers and other written sources to craft stories of Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp and Joaquín Murietta as epic sagas played out in a romantic past. Western readers and writers will applaud this exceptional, and long overdue, appreciation of Burns and his enduring legacy.