A native of Missouri, Mark Lee Gardner has researched and written about the American West since he was in high school. During his college years, he spent summers as a seasonal park ranger at Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site, Colorado, and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia. He also spent one summer as a Mary Moody Northen Graduate Fellow at the Stonewall Jackson House in Lexington, Virginia. A short time after earning a master's degree in American Studies from the University of Wyoming, Mark became the director of History Colorado's Baca and Bloom Houses in Trinidad. He spent four years running this historic site overlooking the fabled Santa Fe Trail, after which he began his career as an independent historian, consultant, and fulltime writer. Mark subsequently authored several interpretive guides for National Park Service historic sites, including the Santa Fe Trail National Historic Trail, Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Washita Battlefield National Historic Site, Fort Laramie National Historic Site, and Fort Union National Monument.
Mark has written a number of critically acclaimed and award-winning books, from material culture studies such as Wagons for the Santa Fe Trade(University of New Mexico Press, 2000) to his bestselling nonfiction titles for HarperCollins:To Hell on a Fast Horse: The Untold Story of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett (2010); Shot All To Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest Escape (2013); and Rough Riders: Theodore Roosevelt, His Cowboy Regiment, and the Immortal Charge Up San Juan Hill (2016). Mark's latest book is The Earth Is All That Lasts: Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and the Last Stand of the Great Sioux Nation, which was chosen by True West magazine as the best nonfiction book of 2022.
As an authority on the American West, Mark has frequently been an on-air expert for national broadcast and cable networks, public radio, and for several podcasts. He's appeared on the History Channel, PBS American Experience, ABC World News, AMC, the Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel, Encore Westerns Channel, Book TV, NPR's All Things Considered, and BBC Radio.
Mark's books and articles have earned him two Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America, an Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award, a Colorado Book Award, a New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, and a Wild West History Association best book award and best article award.
In addition to his research and writing, Mark is an award-winning musician and performer specializing in the historic music of the American West. For more on Mark's music, click on the button below.