Full disclosure: 1957’s “Badman” was written by Clair Huffaker, who wrote one of my all-time favorite novels — not just all-time favorite Westerns, but novels of all genres — “The Cowboy and the Cossack.”
That being shared, I was predisposed to like this book. The good news is — I wasn’t disappointed.
“Badman” is an old fashioned, fast-moving, traditional Western. Jack “Taw” Tawlin is released from Arizona’s Yuma prison and returns home to Pawnee Fork, South Dakota, determined that this would be his last visit to a prison.
But, feeling unfairly pressured by the sheriff and the town’s citizens, and tempted by his wild brother, Jess, he lets himself be talked into helping rob Old Ironsides, which just happens to be carrying $300,000 worth of gold dust.
Throw in a beautiful woman that Taw is attracted to (who, unfortunately, happens to be his sister-in-law), a robbery gone bad and lawmen that just won’t give up, and you’re in for some well-written fun.
Note: I published a book, “52 Weeks • 52 Western Novels,” which highlights 52 great Western books that you can read over the course of a year — or a lifetime. My co-author on that project was Paul Bishop, who also penned the entry for “Badman,” an entry I borrowed from — liberally.
If the story sounds at all familiar, you may know it as the movie: “War Wagon,” starring none other than John Wayne and Kirk Douglas. Although the movie isn’t true to the book, it is still fun to watch, just as “Badman” is fun to read.