Phil Foote: Lawman, Outlaw, Hell-Raiser, by Erik J. Wright, Tripaw Press, $16, 2017
Erik Wright, a Wild West contributor and assistant editor of the Tombstone Epitaph, has a strong foothold in outlaw-lawman research, usually looking beyond the familiar big names in the Wild West. The Arkansas author has found a challenging biography subject in Phil Foote, who was everything the title says—lawman turned outlaw and a hell-raiser for sure. Wright utilized regional newspapers and work done by friend and fellow researcher Peter Brand to get a handle on the exploits of Foote between 1879 and 1895. Like so many of his kind, Foote died a violent death. California author John Boessenecker, who has written such award-winning books as When Law Was in the Holster: The Frontier Life of Bob Paul, points out in the introduction that for every Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok or Jesse James, there are hundreds of interesting but nearly forgotten Westerners such as Foote. Boessenecker adds, “It is up to researchers like Erik Wright to dig them out of archives, old newspapers and court records and preserve their stories for the record.” Wright acknowledges remaining blanks in the Foote story, but that’s the case in most tales of Western gunfighters, who as a rule were quicker with a pistol than a pen.