Friday, January 13, 2017

Forgotten Books: Dead Men Singing - H. Bedford-Jones

I've enjoyed nearly everything I've read by H. Bedford-Jones, and DEAD MEN SINGING: THE MEN WHO FOUGHT FOR TEXAS is no exception. This volume from Altus Press reprints six stories that Bedford-Jones wrote for the pulp SHORT STORIES in 1935 and 1936 to mark the Texas Centennial. Unlike the two serials he wrote for ARGOSY on the same subject, "Bowie Knife" and "Texas Shall be Free!", which featured fictional characters as the leads whose storylines tied in with the history, the tales in this book involve only historical characters and are only light fictionalizations of the actual events.

The time period covered ranges from the early days of the Texas Revolution to the decisive Battle of San Jacinto and focuses on such figures as Ben Milam, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, James Fannin, and Sam Houston. Bedford-Jones gets the history right and does a fine job of making it understandable. Some modern-day revisionists might disagree with him on a few points, but that's fine with me since I tend to be a traditionalist.

I don't think this one is quite as good as those two ARGOSY serials, which are some of Bedford-Jones' best work, in my opinion, largely because he had more room to work with in those novel-length tales. But DEAD MEN SINGING is still excellent and as a long-time Texas history buff, I thoroughly enjoyed it.


jhegenbe said...

I have to say that I thought these stories were a touch better than the "rambling" of the two novels. As much as I enjoy H B-J's fiction, the two Texas novels seemed to wander around, whereas these short tales felt more solidly rooted. I guess that's what makes horse races.

Adventuresfantastic said...

I must have this.