Specializing in the History of the West in Narrative and Song

Historian, Writer, Musician of the Western Experience

An award-winning historian, author, and musician, Mark has worked with the National Park Service, PBS Television, National Geographic Magazine, and numerous state and local historic sites, museums, and humanities councils.  An authority on the American West, he has appeared on the History Channel, PBS American Experience, ABC World News, the Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel, Encore Westerns Channel, Book TV, NPR's All Things Considered, Irish National Radio, and BBC Radio.  He writes for both popular and scholarly audiences, having published with several university presses and periodicals such as Wild West, American Cowboy, True West, New Mexico Magazine, and Journal of the West.  His op-eds have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on FoxNews.com.  Mark is the author of the critically lauded To Hell on a Fast Horse: The Untold Story of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett and Shot All To Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest EscapeTrue West magazine named Mark Best Author in its annual "Best of the West" issue for 2014.  Mark's next book focuses on Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, to be published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins.


                                WRITERS OF AMERICA FOR BEST WESTERN
                                          NONFICTION HISTORICAL BOOK

                                     2014 AWARD FOR THE BEST BOOK ON
                                                    WILD WEST HISTORY

                            WINNER OF THE 2014 MILTON F. PERRY AWARD
                                             FOR BEST NONFICTION BOOK

Listen to an audio excerpt read by Johnny Heller and featuring
introductory music by Mark and Skip Gorman. 
Click here.

       "Rollicking...with enough bloody action to engage readers enthralled by tales
         of good versus evil."
                                                                                -- New York Times Book Review

       "Gardner’s re-creation of the Northfield Raid... orchestrates the often-unwieldy
         particulars of the event with considerable virtuosity. ... It would be hard to im-
         agine a more thorough account.
                                                                                                    -- Washington Post

      "Historian Gardner crafts an elegant narrative that's as entertaining as it is   
         historically accurate....A must-read for any western fan."

                                                                                                    -- Publishers Weekly
       "Gardner's meticulously-researched history of the Northfield Raid and its
         bloody aftermath is told in the kind of compelling narrative that all historians
         should emulate....Shot All To Hell is one of those very well researched, wonder-
         fully written, and most objective histories that any reader will enjoy."

                                                                                      -- Doris Meredith
                                                                                          New York Journal of Books

        "Action packed...a colorful portrait...A gripping read and probably tells all there
          is to tell about a legendary group of psychopaths."

                                                                                                         -- Kirkus Reviews
        "Gardner has shed considerable light on a neglected aspect of the gang's life
          of crime...[A] detailed, almost bullet-by-bullet account of the failed robbery."

                                                                                                                   -- Booklist 
      "With careful research and well crafted prose, Mark Lee Gardner brings to life
         the outlaws, lawmen, local citizens, and journalists who witnessed this failed
         bank robbery and its aftermath....Gardner brings a new vitality to this famous
         episode....this retelling is lively, rich, and full."

                                                                                                  -- Clyde A. Milner II
                                                                                                      History Book Club

      "[Readers] will delight in the exciting yet smooth way the intriguing story plays
        out in the hands of Gardner....It's a winner and a must read for anyone inter-
        ested in perhaps the most infamous outlaws of the Old West."

                                                                                                  -- Wild West Magazine  
      "[A] rootin'-tootin', chock-full-a-shootin' Old West tale...in glorious step-by-step
                                                                                                           -- New York Post   

      "Like a heroic Mexican corrido, historian-musician Mark Lee Gardner's Shot All         To Hell is both a personal ode and history of the infamous James-Younger
        gang...Gardner's prose is paced like the James's ride into infamy."   

                                                                                                  -- True West Magazine
      "Gardner's quick prose and wit enhances the fast-paced action-packed historical

        account.  This book should be on the bookshelf of every fan of Western history."

                                                                                                  -- American Cowboy

      "[A] hard, detailed look at the infamous Northfield Raid...thoroughly researched."

                                                                                                  -- Dallas Morning News


In addition to his research and writing, Mark is an award-winning performer of the music of the 19th and early 20th-century American West.  Watch a PBS video of Mark performing the 1927 "Blind Andy" Jenkins ballad "Billy the Kid."  Click here.   

Mark's latest CD is Outlaws: Songs of Robbers, Rustlers, and Rogues, a saddlebag of famous and lesser known American ballads such as "Cole Younger," "Jesse James," "Billy the Kid," and "Sam Bass."


Winner of the 2013 Six-Shooter Award from the Wild West History Association for "Outstanding Contribution to Wild West History"

This new collection from Mark Lee Gardner, a gifted singer who specializes in songs from the Old West, deals with such notorious figures as Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Cole Younger, and Sam Bass, not forgetting women like Belle Starr and Calamity Jane. Two standouts are the lovely ballad “Kentucky Moonshiner” and Gardner’s quiet, introspective take on Bob Dylan’s “Billy,” written for the 1973 Peckinpah film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. A lapidary picker, Gardner accompanies himself on an assortment of period guitars, banjos, and mandolins. Reference-caliber reproduction. Highly recommended.

                                                                                                                                —Paul Seydor,
The Absolute Sound

is like having someone sing you a book of stories. "John Hardy," "Sam Bass," "Cole Younger," and "Jesse James" are all song titles that remind the listener of hours spent reading and researching Western history. Gardner, author of To Hell on a Fast Horse, a marvelous dual biography of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, is obviously having lots of fun bringing you the not-so-accurate stories of these outlaw legends.  (As he points out in his liner notes, "The truth is seldom as much fun as the myth.")  None of it is more fun than "The Finger of Billy the Kid," a song sharing how the Kid's trigger finger ended up in a jar. Our fascination with the outlaws of the Old West is only intensified by Gardner's fine CD, which will no doubt drive many right back to the history books.

                                                                                                        Marvin O'Dell
                                                                                                           True West

A blend of history and music, Outlaws is a grab bag of ballads devoted to the West's less savory characters.  Rich and rollicking instrumentsGardner plays an open-back banjo and tenor guitar help bring the stories to life.

                                                                                                       American Cowboy

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