Books: Frontier Excalibur

THE IRON MISTRESS (404 pp.)—Paul I. Wellman—Doubleday ($3.50).

Some of the liveliest historical writing about the Old West (The Trampling Herd, Death in the Desert) is the work of an ex-cowhand and ex-Kansas newspaperman named Paul I. (Iselin) Wellman. All of it was done before Wellman went to the far West, all the way to Hollywood, in fact, where he became a scriptwriter. Now, in The Iron Mistress, a historical novel about Frontiersman James Bowie, he writes thus:

"[Jim Bowie] heard her gasp, a startled catch of the breath as his hand ran down her arched back with a sleeking motion, encountered...

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