From the first bloody battles between mountain men and Indians to shootouts between famous gunslingers, Cowboys, Mountain Men, and Grizzly Bears targets what draws people to the history and literature of the Wild West. Matthew P. Mayo, noted author of Western novels, takes the fifty wildest episodes in the region’s history‚ including John Colter’s harrowing escape from the Blackfeet, Hugh Glass’s six-week crawl to civilization after a grizzly attack, and Custer’s last moments‚ and presents them in one unputdownable, action-packed volume!

Globe Pequot Press/TwoDot, 264 pages, 27 historic photos, December, 2009, softcover

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“I loved Cowboys, Mountain Men, and Grizzly Bears. It’s absolutely terrific. What a saga of the Great American West.”

—Howard Frank Mosher

award-winning author of A STRANGER IN THE KINGDOM

“Serving up fast, bite-sized anecdotes of pulse-pounding history, Mayo gives us the equivalent of salted peanuts (try and eat just one), but packed with ten times more nutrition. It’s the kind of book that will have you loitering around the display like a kid at the comic book spinner.”

—Richard Prosch

Meridian Bridge

“… I can’t recommend it highly enough. The man knows the West, and, better still, knows how to tell a story.”

—Andrew Vietze


“Mayo’s gift for detail makes for riveting reading. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have a grizzly bear slice the skin off your back like it was peeling an orange, or what it would feel like to be scalped but only after you’d been punctured with arrows AND shot, or to watch your husband and son be devoured by starving wolves, then you’ll have your answers in Cowboys. Needless to say, you won’t forget these stories anytime soon.”

—Laurie Powers

Laurie's Wild West

“Just glancing at its title, one would be forgiven for thinking that Matthew P. Mayo’s collection of brief historical anecdotes stays with the more mainstream-classroom elements of Western lore, but don’t be fooled. There are pistoleros galore. Army/Indian conflict is not suggested in the title, but COWBOYS, MOUNTAIN MEN & GRIZZLY BEARS: FIFTY OF THE GRITTIEST MOMENTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE WILD WEST contains stories about the usual collection of military mishaps and massacres.

Mayo is a breezy yarn-spinner, the kind you’d like to sit around a pot-bellied stove with on a cold night. With 50 tales in a little more than 200 pages, you know there’s no room for details, but the book includes a comprehensive bibliography so you can do a little digging on your own for more information.

This one is fun and the kind of book you’d see in the gift shop in places like Tombstone or Deadwood. If you can’t hit the trail, this is the next best thing.” (Click here for the full review.)

—Doug Bentin

“I know Matthew’s work from his excellent novels for the Black Horse western range – Winters’ War (also available in a large print edition) is a superb western adventure that could serve as a textbook of how it’s done. Well his new book, Cowboys, Mountain Men and Grizzly Bears is a text book of sorts, that is its a non-fiction title containing fifty true stories from the distant days of the Old West.

There the text book analogy ends, though. The author has avoided setting out his tales as a list of facts and instead, partly dramatised events, so that they become all the more real. It brings everything to life and the reader is sucked into the thrilling stories, making history accessible and enjoyable.” (Click here for the full review.)

—Gary Dobbs

The Tainted Archive

“Mayo brings the West alive in this witty and entertaining volume of essays that span from Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump to Tom Horn. Cowboys, Mountain Men, and Grizzly Bears puts the reader right in the middle of the action, making history not only accessible, but fun, scary, and most importantly, real. Mayo is a writer to keep a lookout for.”

—Larry D. Sweazy

Spur Award-winner and author of THE RATTLESNAKE SEASON

“An excellent variety of great stories, told in superb narrative style.”

—John D. Nesbitt

Spur Award-winner and author of TROUBLE AT THE REDSTONE

“This is a great collection of short little pieces roughly lumped onto three different categories, as Mayo outlines in the introduction: Mountain Men and Indians; Man vs. Nature; and Cowboys and Gunfighters; running chronologically from the early 19th century to the early 20th century. It touches on many great stories — 50 of ’em — all of which are potentially worthy of full books devoted to each one. It is an exciting, and harrowing, review of the hardships faced in the Old West, as well as many of the larger-than-life characters to come out of that era. A great book to keep on the bedside table for those moments when you only have 10 or 15 minutes to read at a time. Recommended!”

—Chris La Tray


“A hefty title for a book that’s truly loaded for b’ar: but one word, Moments, in the subtitles, offers a clue to one of the book’s greatest strengths: the author’s gift for finding the precise little instants in the lives of his subjects upon which to shine his searchlight, to pick out his telling details…. Oh, the historical research is first rate, of course, but what makes this book so readable is that these are not only (very good) pieces of research, they’re stories.”

—Robert J. Pohle

Roundup Magazine

“Perhaps the manliest book ever written….”

—Teddy Roosevelt