A Rough Ride to Redemption: The Ben Daniels Story

Robert K. DeArment and Jack DeMattos

The Wild West was forged by madmen and dreamers stretching through the country in search of adventurous new lives. Dead-ending at the West Coast, the crazy began to pile up, so it’s no surprise that the frontier times of the largely forgotten lawman Ben Daniels mirror and captivate our current culture. DeArment and DeMattos do a wonderful job of pulling Daniels out of obscurity using letters, newspaper articles and government documents and placing him in the wildest parts of the West: Dodge City and Lamar, Kan., and Arizona, back when they were considered the true frontier. An early life of horse thievery and accusations of murder haunted Daniels, driving him to seek penance as a sheriff, a U.S. Marshall and a Rough Rider. Of particular interest is Daniels’ ongoing personal and political relationship with President Theodore Roosevelt, under whom he served during the Spanish-American War. Telegrams and letters between the parties reveal a Code of the West and an “I’ll scratch your back” Capitol Hill atmosphere that would seem right at home on CNN or Fox News. In the authors’ hands, Daniels is an honest man with a dark past who sheds light on the right and wrong of not just his time, but also our own.