CAS TOPICS > The Longbranch

Charles Siringo


He wrote a couple of books, is one better than the other? Are either that good? Any similar suggestions? Looking for something to read.

His books are very entertaining.  Like most, though, take some of what he says with a grain of salt.

Coal Creek Griff:
A Cowboy Detective is my favorite of his books. I'd start there. I'd say that they're definitely worth reading. There's a certain amount of overlap in some of his books and as he got older, his anger towards the Pinkerton's became stronger.  While his books fall into the "memoir" category, where the author puts himself in the best possible light, he was directly involved in the events that he depicts. I wouldn't bank on many memoirs from the period as being solid history, but read in the proper light, his books are entertaining and based on the truth as he chose to remember it.


CA Siringo:
Siringo left the Pinkertons in 1907 and wrote Pinkerton's Cowboy Detective in 1910. The Pinkerton National Detective Agency blocked the publication of the book and the final result was A Cowboy Detective in which he was not allowed to use the Pinkerton name or "contains information, business transactions, secrets, names of clients, or any information, knowledge, trade secrets or other matters" pertaining to the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. The financial impact on Siringo was severe however and he grew very bitter towards the Pinkertons. In 1915 he published  Two Evil Isms Pinkertonism and Anarchism which recounts a lot more of his assignments during the 22 years he spent with the agency but with very little detail. It did make a point to discuss every illegal, unethical and immoral thing the agency did, painting himself as the only one that would not take that kind of action. It is interesting to note that he put up with that kind of behavior for 22 years and it was not until after his court fight over publication of the Pinkerton's Cowboy Detective that he felt he had to make the world aware of that side of the agency.

In 1927, he published his final autobiography, Riata and Spurs where he revised and republished a lot of chapters from A Cowboy Detective and used the Pinkerton name as well as the real name of clients instead of the fictitious names used in A Cowboy Detective. That apparently only happened in the first edition of the book as the publisher was pressured by the agency to edit future editions.


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