The Woman and the LegendBook - 2005
This book is a definitive biography of Martha Canary, the woman popularly known as Calamity Jane. Written by one of today's foremost authorities on this notorious character, it is a meticulously researched account of how an alcoholic prostitute was transformed into a Wild West heroine.
Always on the move across the northern plains, Martha was more camp follower than the scout of legend. A mother of two, she often found employment as waitress, laundress, or dance hall girl and was more likely to be wearing a dress than buckskin. But she was hard to ignore when she'd had a few drinks, and she exploited the aura of fame that dime novels created around her, even selling her autobiography and photos to tourists.
Gun toting, swearing, hard drinking--Calamity Jane was all of these, to be sure. But whatever her flaws or foibles, James D. McLaird paints a compelling portrait of an unconventional woman who more than once turned the tables on those who sought to condemn or patronize her. He also includes dozens of photos--many never before seen--depicting Jane in her many guises. His book is a long-awaited biography of Martha Canary and the last word on Calamity Jane.