“In Victoria, Texas, 1857, a baby was born. From the noise he made, it sounded more like a panther. Long John Dunn raised hell for a long time after, in one form or another.” How can you not love a book that opens like this?

Behold an old, beat-up looking book.
Long John Dunn of Taos, by Max Evans. Published 1959,by Western Lore Press of Los Angeles, California. Great West and Indian Series XV.

I heard about Max Evans from other New Mexican writers. They spoke of him as a classic writer of the Old West, an actual cowboy and chronicler of a past lifestyle. I was reintroduced to Evans when our local PBS station, KNME in Albuquerque, produced a documentary, Ol’ Max Evans,the First Thousand Years in 2020. He was an intriguing character and a good writer, two attributes that made me want to find out more about him.

I went in search of his books. At that time, my local library didn’t have any. I began the online search–all of the books were out of print. I broadened the search to used bookstores. A surprising number of bookstore people in both New Mexico and Arizona had not even heard of Max Evans.

Finally, I found this book in Santa Fe, at an off-the-beaten track used bookstore, Big Star Books & Music on Garfield. It is great fun to read. It is also politically incorrect by standards of our century. But of course, this writer, his subject, and the book are not of this century.

60 year book trail

The markings and the old fashioned library card pocket inside the front cover hint at the story of this book. I can see it was owned by someone whose name is blacked out. At some point, the Christian County Library in Ozark, Missouri, acquired this volume, and some diligent librarian added the birth and death dates of Long John Dunn in pencil. Somewhere between that library and the bookstore in Santa Fe, it was pulled from the shelf and rudely stamped WITHDRAWN. I am left to imagine all the places it journeyed and who read it before I found it with the pencil marking “$7.50 as is” on this same page.

So in addition to the stories of Max Evans, and Long John Dunn, I am gifted with the story of the book itself.

I end on the happy note that University of New Mexico Press has brought two of Max Evans’ books back to print. I can hope that more will follow, although these new editions won’t bring you the extra stories I have found in my 1959 edition.

8 thoughts on “The Story of a Book

  1. a good story Your web site sounds interesting what does it do for you?? I am curious I am having fun writing my mother’s family story there even was a murder in the family tree really poor folks but have discovered alot about Swedish history and culture during the 1800’s Interesting stuff! how do I log in to your web page

    Like

    1. Thanks for reading, Carolyn. You were on the website when you read the story. Simple address– vickiholmsten.com
      I’ll send an email with more. So interesting to hear about your mother’s family story.

      Like

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