John B. McClernan, Slade’s Wells Fargo Colt (Historical Notes)
This is a short, wonderful book. Ostensibly, it is about one collector’s attempt to authenticate an antique New Navy Colt as owned by Jack Slade, division superintendent for the Pony Express and overland stage routes. The author traces his pre-internet research steps, and in doing so, documents the source of every assertion he makes regarding the gun and its history.
The result is a book that has 10 pages of text (nearly every sentence footnoted), 15 pages of notes, three appendices running around 30 pages, and five pages of bibliography. Appendix III is an “Interpretation” of Slade’s estate file. The entire book is under 80 pages. In those few pages it packs a wealth of information about Jack Slade, the most notable superintendent of the Pony Express line. The man who made the most dangerous part of the route safe for travel, and in the process, earned a reputation as the forerunner of the western gunslinger.
Well-written and well-researched. The author’s passion for the subject of Jack Slade and for his chosen pursuit of learning whether the gun did in fact belong to Jack Slade make what sounds like a dull subject very compelling.