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The Legend of Bass Reeves: Being the True and Fictional Account of the Most Valiant Marshal in the West

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3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  350 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
Cowboy stories and movies about the Wild West are full of amazing characters. Yet many of the lawmen we think of as heroes were anything but — some were violent scoundrels and outlaws themselves.

Among all the lawmen of the frontier, one man stands out as a true hero: Bass Reeves.

In his day, Bass Reeves was the most successful federal marshal in the United States. True to t
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Published February 20th 2011 by Brilliance Audio (first published August 8th 2006)
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Jim
Jul 02, 2011 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Legend of Bass Reeves by author Gary Paulsen is a Western written for young readers. It focuses on the true story of a little-known marshal who patrolled the old Indian Territory, now known as Oklahoma.

Bass Reeves was born a slave in the 1830's American South. He grew up tending to chores and animals while his 'mammy' cooked and cleaned. One day while out searching for cattle he came across a strange dog that seemed to speak to him, telling him that "someday things will change". The 'witch-d
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Trey
The Legend of Bass Reeves

The Legend of Bass Reeves is a book about an Old Western cowboy who was once a slave, and then became a great deputy in his town. The book is also about all his ups and down, and the life of a slave on the run. This book would most likely fit into the western adventure genre. The reason is the book takes place in areas such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. You can find the main characters in shootouts and fistfights. Also, horses are the main way to travel. Lastly, the
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Will Stewart
Nov 11, 2016 Will Stewart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing! The book has a few cuss words, but several of them were common during his time. Gary Paulsen tells all about Bass Reeves's early life and the legends that he made. I'd heard about Bass Reeves as U.S. Marshall, but I didn't know much about his childhood. An amazing fact that it tells is that Bass was in his 80's when he died! GREAT book.
Melody
Jan 20, 2017 Melody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hey, my g-grandfather rode for hanging Judge Parker during the time Bass Reeves served. Too cool!!
Gwendolyn
Jun 29, 2013 Gwendolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Legend of Bass Reeves by Gary Paulsen is a too short, but sweet little book on the most successful U.S. Marshal in the history of the United States. Yet very few Americans have ever heard of him. He is also the ancestor of a friend of mine, which is how I first learned of Marshal Reeves. My curiosity piqued from the wild stories she told about her relative, I went on a search for the Marshal. Not only did I find her stories to be true, she didn’t tell the half of it. U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves ...more
Ruby
Feb 22, 2011 Ruby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bass Reeves was born in 1838 and is thought to be one of the first African-Americans to be comissioned as a Deputy US Marshal. For the first 17 years of his life, he was a slave "owned" by his master George Reeves (as far as I know, no relation to the George Reeves of Superman fame), a farmer. Just before the Civil War, Bass parted ways with his master and ran to Indian Territory, where he lived among the Creek and Seminole Indians for about 20 years. Later he moved to Arkansas, where he married ...more
Austin Barrett
Oct 29, 2012 Austin Barrett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about the legend of bass reeves. I think you should read this book because it is about a marshal from the Midwest. The author for this book is Gary Paulsen. Gary Paulson is a very good author and he has wrote many other good books such as the famous book such as hatchet, also brains winter, dog song, and brains hunt those are some really good books that I think you should read.
The main theme of this book or the conflict is he is fighting against slavery. Basically what he did in the
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W
Jan 08, 2017 W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An easy YA book that follows a young slave until he becomes a U.S. Marshal. I'd recommend it to a hesitant reader .... there's some edge of the seat action detailed enough for a vivid picture without words that would require a dictionary. A "western for the beginner".
Cheryl Gatling
Feb 07, 2016 Cheryl Gatling rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was intrigued by the subtitle on this book, which claims to be the "true and fictional account of the most famous marshal in the west." How was it both? Easy. Bass Reeves was a real person, and the facts of his life as included in the book are correct, but Paulsen invents conversations and thoughts that might have happened to him. As for being the most famous, he was not, and is not, for I had never heard of him, and my friends had never heard of him. But he deserves to be the most famous mars ...more
Grant
Apr 25, 2016 Grant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Gary Paulsen wrote yet another awesome book! “The Legend of Bass Reeves” was able to keep me interested until the very last page. The main character went along such a diverse path in life which allowed for many different changes in the setting. Each location was described very effectively. Paulsen was able to make a pristine mental picture for the reader. When Reeves is on his job as a Marshal in the Western United States, he gets put on a case that is sure to cause surprise in the reader.
I wo
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Alumine Andrew
Aug 25, 2014 Alumine Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favourite
I have read this to my kids. It's hard to find a story based on the wild west suitable for kids and inspiring to boot. This is the story of Bass, an African American who was born a slave and grew up around taxes and Arkansas in the 1850's. His mother and Bass ran the ranch for a retired ranger who spent most of his time drunk. after a violent dispute Bass had to flee and he went to live in the Indian Territories of the North. There he learned of their way of life and had twenty five years to lea ...more
Kate
Gary Paulsen has written a very accessible, well-researched biography of a man who deserves more fame than he has received. Little official documentation of Bass Reeves's life remains, but Paulsen has done his research and does a good job of explaining where he extrapolates to create the narrative, and why. I highly recommend this book to everyone, including adults--it's difficult to find information on Bass Reeves, and Paulsen is an engaging writer.

Bonus: Paulsen devotes a brief foreword to the
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Kerri
Don’t let the boring cover fool you – this is a very interesting true story about the first black Texas Ranger. Lots of cool Indian stories, along with some really great bounty hunter type stories as he tracked some of the worst criminals in the West. Also, don’t forget the Forward! Paulsen tells the truth about some of our Old West “heroes” and what was really going on with them.

Summary: Born into slavery, Bass Reeves became the most successful US Marshal of the Wild West. Many "heroic lawmen"
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Libby Ames
This short historical fiction book is perfect for tweens interested in the Wild West. We recognize names like Buffalo Bill, Butch Cassidy, and Wyatt Earp with their questionable heroics in a wild time, but not many have heard of the truly heroic Bass Reeves. One of the most successful federal marshals in the late 1800s, Reeves worked in Indian Territory arresting criminals and fighting for justice against amazing odds. Reeves, the only recorded African American marshal, was known for his honest ...more
Christopher Ota
Jan 11, 2013 Christopher Ota rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
probably read this book because I had just seen Tarantino's "Django Unchained" and remembered reading the picturebook biography "Bad News For Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal".Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal This is a fictional account of Reeves' life, who lived as a runaway slave-turned bounty hunter in the Indian Territories in the late 19th Century. Paulsen does really good job developing Bass Reeves as a characte ...more
Sandra Alps
Characters: Bass Reeves; Mammy, his mother; Flowers, an old enslaved man who never spoke; Mister Murphy, the slave owner; Peter, Native American man.

Setting: 1800s, Texas; Indian Territory

Theme: No one has the right to own or terrorize other human beings.

Genre: historical fiction; western, adventure

Golden quote: “’You, me, Betty, uncle, Mary, Martha. All one.’…Bass stared at him, understanding, truly understanding, and knew then that it was what he wanted. A place, a place to be safe, to be with
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Kalilah
An interesting if brief look into the life of an old west law man. The author repeatedly makes the point that had Bass been white, his history and accomplishments would likely be as well known as that of Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers, which is undoubtedly true, however that Bass has largely been forgotten and ignored by history does not negate the exploits or achievements of other men who, partly because of their ethnicity and partly because of the peculiarities of history remain salient fi ...more
Laurie
May 30, 2009 Laurie added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laurie by: read while finding historical fiction for Rietz
Historical novel about a black man, born a slave, who became "the most successful federal marshal in the United States." The first section of the book is the most fully fictionalized and the best written. Paulsen wrote in the author's note "The part about his boyhood is the longest because to me it was the most important part of his life, the fire that forged him." The life of a slave on an isolated ranch in Indian Territory is fascinating, and different from the other historical novels about sl ...more
Royce Samaniego
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hank O
Sep 23, 2014 Hank O rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The legend of bass reeves: Gary Paulsen Historical Fiction
I liked this book because it was a historical fictions and also a western and personally I love western books.
Bass Reeves was a black man, born into slavery. And though the laws of his country enslaved him and his mother, when he became a free man he served the law, with such courage and honor that he became a legend.
It takes place in mexico and is about slavery. It teaches about how slavery was back then and also how it was in the wester
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Jean
Mar 07, 2008 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again I learned the truth of not judging a book by its cover. From the cover art and title I somehow deduced that the book would be a Richard Peck-like farce. Wrong. The book (in two parts) first tells the fictionalized version of Reeves' childhood as a slave and then the historical fact version of Bass Reeves later life as an African American marshal. I loved that he started his law enforcement career at age 51--the same age I completed my bachelor's degree. Hurray for late bloomers! Adole ...more
Austinhunter
I liked the overall story of this book a lot. But when you are reading it and you end a section and it starts a new one or you start a new chapter the time changes. For example in one part in the book it tells about him then when you finish the chapter it starts off twenty years later. I don't really like books like this, I like books that explain just one thing and stay on that topic for the rest of the book. But this was one book that I actually really liked that did that thing even though the ...more
Linda
Jan 26, 2015 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay the 3 stars are for the author and NOT for this incredible man the book is about. Maybe its because I'm an adult reading a book intended for children, but I wish the author would have committed to the STORY. There are 2 chapters in there with some historical background and some opinions on government actions of the time. (And it's not that I disagree with the opinions expressed) It just brought the story to a halt. I had never heard of Bass Reeves before and it was definitely my loss! This ...more
The Reading Countess
Gary Paulsen never disappoints. This "true and fictional" account of the unsung hero who was Reeves will keep even the most reluctant reader's attention. As a lover of historical fiction, I appreciated the glimpse into what it was to live as a slave, endure years of degradation and finally live free. Divided into three sections: Bass' life as a slave growing into a man, living free with Native Americans, and finally his life as a lawman, my favorite parts were the first and second. Seeing what P ...more
Michael Guzman
This is a very informative book about a little known marshal in the old west. I enjoyed this book but would not recommend it to young adults who do not know American History very well. It delves into America's dark past in regards to treatment of slaves and Native Americans. I feel young adults are too impressionable and believe it can leave a lasting impression as America still being a racist and bigoted nation. This is not the book for a child if the parent is wanting to instill a love of coun ...more
Joshua
Mar 06, 2012 Joshua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bass Reeves is a very good and detailed story. Bass reeves was a marshal and so he had to fight his way through. He used to be a slave for this big fat man and after fighting for society I found out that he was a real person. It is a touching story because they will tell you things about slavery and how bad it used to be. Bass Reeves is a person who doesn't give up, one of the worlds' greatest people. Bass was a smart boy when he was young. He is an inspiration to a lot of people. This story is ...more
Andrea
Jul 09, 2011 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. Bass Reeves is a real person, but Gary Paulsen mixes his real life with a fictional narrative, which he explains at the beginning of the book. This style makes the book extremely interesting and I learned about someone I had never heard of, and enjoyed learning about it! It always good to have interesting biographies (especially since so many of them can be really dry) for students to read, and I think this one would interest both boys and girls. I also like how short i ...more
Karen Ball
Sep 09, 2016 Karen Ball rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Gary Paulsen’s fictionalized account of Bass Reeves, the most successful federal marshal of the Wild West era. Very little is recorded about Bass Reeves, but Paulsen has taken what there is and added historical details and figures of the times. Bass Reeves was unusual as a lawman because he had been born a slave, but once he was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, he served as a lawman for many years, far longer than virtually any other of the time. He never drew his gun first, and t ...more
Felicia Gary
Feb 12, 2009 Felicia Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is another good read for young readers and adults. It provides a dramatic account of the true and fictional account of the most valiant marshal in the West. Bass Reeves is a legend and true hero. I highly recommend this book for the personal shelves of anyone that loves stories about the "Ole West".

For those who saw the Mel Brooks movie, "Blazin Saddles", Mel Brooks stated in an interview that he based the character, played by Clevon Little as Sheriff of Rockridge, on Bass Reeves. Just
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Rebecca Radnor
The story of Bass Reeves, one of the overlooked stories of the Wild West. A black law man who never shot first and always got his man. The first 3/4 of the book is mostly fictional and covers his formative years as a slave in Texas, until he beats up his owner and runs away. The final quarter follows his exploits as a law man, including arresting his own son for murder. The writing in the last part completely looses the flow and poetry of the earlier sections, as the writer sticks closely to the ...more
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18
Although he was never a dedicated student, Paulsen developed a passion for reading at an early age. After a librarian gave him a book to read--along with his own library card--he was hooked. He began spending hours alone in the basement of his apartment building, reading one book after another.

Running away from home at the age of 14 and traveling with a carnival, Paulsen acquired a taste for adve
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More about Gary Paulsen...

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