Specializing in the History of the West in Narrative and Song

Historian, Writer, Musician of the Western Experience

An award-winning historian, author, musician and consultant, Mark has worked with the National Park Service, PBS Television, National Geographic Magazine, the New Mexico Humanities Council, and numerous state and local historic sites and museums.  An authority on the American West, he has appeared on the History Channel, PBS American Experience, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, 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.

           Special Promotion: For a limited time, Amazon is selling the eBook
                        edition of Shot All To Hell for $1.99!  Click here.


                               WRITERS OF AMERICA FOR BEST WESTERN
                                         NONFICTION HISTORICAL BOOK

                                  2014 SIX-SHOOTER AWARD FOR THE BEST 
                                          BOOK ON WILD WEST HISTORY

                                              An Indie Next List Selection

       "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."  Click on the CD cover below to listen and order.

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

            2013 & 2014 Highlights and Upcoming Events

August 17, 2013:  Mark was a featured guest on NPR's All Things Considered Weekend Edition, discussing his latest book, Shot All To Hell.  Listen to the interview here.

August 24, 2013:  Mark appeared on Fox News' morning show, Fox & Friends.  Watch the video.

February 21-22, 2014:  Mark and his son Vance performed for the annual High Plains Snow Goose Festival in Lamar, Colorado.  Check out this video.

April 27, 2014:  Mark spoke and performed for Missouri Valley Sundays at the Kansas City Public Library.

June, 2014: Mark is interviewed in the June issue of True West magazine.  Check it out here.

June 18:  Mark appeared on Minnesota Public Radio's The Daily Circuit, to talk about the Northfield Raid.  Listen to the audio here.

June 28:  Mark attended the awards banquet of the Western Writers of America where he picked up Spur Awards in the categories Best Western Nonfiction Historical for his book Shot All To Hell and Best Western Short Nonfiction for his Wild West magazine cover story "The Other James Brother."


July 12: Mark spoke for the Bent's Fort Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association, Grand Theater, Rocky Ford, Colorado.

July 23-24
:  Mark and Rex Rideout performed for members of the Wild West History Association in Golden, Colorado.  Mark's book, Shot All To Hell, received the association's 2014 Six-Shooter Award for best book on Wild West history.

July 27
:  Mark and Rex were featured performers at this year's 10th annual Fiddles, Vittles & Vino at Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site.  Check out some photos here.
August:  Mark has the cover story for the September issue of True West magazine, on newsstands now.  It's a big Billy the Kid issue you won't want to miss.


August 25:  Mark provides music for "Wine with Friends," a fundraiser for the Ute Pass Library.  More info here.

September 16
:  Mark speaks at the meeting of the Utah Westerners, Salt Lake City.

October 2-4:  Mark will present at the annual conference of the National James-Younger Gang, Fort Smith, Arkansas.  More info here.

December 17:  Mark will present at the meeting of the Denver Posse of Westerners.

September 23-26, 2015:  Mark and Rex will participate in the 2015 Fur Trade Symposium at Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site, La Junta, Colorado.


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