Few nineteenthcentury western figures had the wide range of experiences and acquaintances that Charles A. Siringo had. Stubborn and egotistical yet honest and freespirited, cowboy and private eye Charlie Siringo wrote several autobiographies that captured the interest of thousands of readers and contributed to the myth of the cowboylawman as an archetypal western hero. Charles Siringo was born on the Texas Gulf Coast in 1855. At an early age he became a cowboy, driving longhorn cattle up the Chisholm Trail. Shortly after writing his first autobiography, A Texas Cowboy, Siringo moved to Chicago, where he heard the bomb explosion that set off the Haymarket riot, and he witnessed its aftermath. The incident motivated him to join the worldfamous Pinkerton's detective agency, and for the next twentytwo years he tracked criminals, traveling throughout the West and to such faraway places as Alaska and Mexico City. Siringo eventually left the Pinkerton agency in 1907 and moved to Santa Fe to become a rancher, writer, and freelance detective. His second autobiography, originally entitled Pinkerton's Cowboy Detective, resulted in a lawsuit and launched a bitter conflict between Siringo and the agency.
Ben Pingenot's biography of Siringo reveals him as a truly unique individual, but one with human imperfections. The result is the story of a man in the context of his times, of a man whose path crossed those of Billy the Kid, Bat Masterson, Clarence Darrow, Charles M. Russell, Will Rogers, and others. It is a story of a character just as interesting as Siringo's writings made him appear, but far more complex than he knew, and more thoroughly human than any stiff mythical figure of Western lore.