Books: The Old Charnel Trail

SPAWN OF EVIL by Paul I. Wellman. 350 pages. Doubleday. $5.95.

Legend, song and the movies have portrayed the desperadoes of the U.S. frontier as Robin Hoods. This may have had some validity in the case of folk heroes like Jesse James and Billy the Kid, on whom the wide open plains imposed a certain gallantry. But in earlier days, when the West was still east of the Mississippi, the frontier spawned a group of brutal outlaws lauded in no song or story. They gouged out eyes, bit off noses, scalped, never robbed without murdering,...

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