Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 29, No. 1, Winter 2009, pp. 000-000


Copyright 2009 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska- Lincoln


In tackling Charles Goodnight, William Hagan successfully condenses an epic life story into a concise form-one of the requirements of University of Oklahoma Press's Western Biographies Series. Hagan's biography is wellpaced, smoothly written, and engaging. It's a story well told, but not a revisionist history. Even as he points out the way in which Goodnight has reached Western hero status, Hagan does not question or challenge the grand narrative of the pioneer West that provides the basis for Goodnight's iconic position.

In the course of telling Goodnight's story, however, Hagan corrects a number of legendary errors-notably that Goodnight was first to drive the cattle trail subsequently known as Goodnight-Loving-and on the whole manages to demythologize his subject without detracting from this legitimately impressive life. For that reason, Hagan's book is important, making a fine companion and corrective to J. Evetts Haley's classic 1936 biography, Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman.