Robert M. Utley in the field
Hi, friends! You have reached Robert M. Utley, a.k.a. The Old Bison. I assume most of you have enough interest in me to access this web site. You probably know of me as the author of many books and other publications dealing with various aspects of the American West.

That I am, but as a historian for my entire career (I’m now in my late eighties) I emerge from two traditions: addiction to writing about the history of the West, and a long-time career in the National Park Service logoNational Park Service, which I served as its chief historian during one of the most critical periods in its history. Even then I wrote books, and since retiring from the federal government in 1980 I have devoted myself almost entirely to writing books. I still consider myself a proud veteran of the National Park Service and keep current with its people and activities. The two traditions were not separate. I kept one foot in both traditions and another in academia and its various professional offsprings. I am a product of all those experiences.

For those who wish to know more about me and these experiences, consult my memoir, Custer and Me: A Historian's Memoir , published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2004. If you are looking for a The cover of my memoir, Custer and Me: A Historian's Memiorparticular book, including my memoir, virtually all are still in print and available under Robert M. Utley at Less digestible but providing ample detail is my CV, as well as a list of my publications.

I now live in a retirement community in Scottsdale, Arizona, with my wife, Melody Webb. She’s also a published author and a veteran of the National Park Service.

In June 2015 I attended the annual meeting of the Western Writers of America in Lubbock, Texas. There I was inducted into the Western Writers of America Hall of Fame. I feel greatly honored.

I am now working on my 22nd book. Guided by the expert editorial advice of Chuck Rankin at the University of Oklahoma Press, I am returning to a favorite subject of years past: the frontier army. The working title of the book is The Commanders: Civil War Generals Who Shaped the American West.

You may e-mail me at You can’t call me because I am severely hearing impaired, though otherwise in fairly good health. I still write, with my current book being a double biography, Wanted: The Outlaw Lives of Billy the Kidd and Ned Kelly, which was published on November 20th, 2015, by Yale University Press.

Wanted: The Outlaw Lives of Billy the Kid and Ned Kelly book cover

The Outlaw Lives of
Billy the Kid and Ned Kelly

Now Available!

at and other fine retailers

The oft-told exploits of Billy the Kid and Ned Kelly survive vividly in the public imaginations of their respective countries, the United States and Australia. But the outlaws’ reputations are so weighted with legend and myth, the truth of their lives has become obscure. In this adventure-filled double biography, Robert M. Utley reveals the true stories and parallel courses of the two notorious contemporaries who lived by the gun, were executed while still in their twenties, and remain compelling figures in the folklore of their homelands.

What folks are saying about the new book.

"Robert M. Utley displays the gifts that have made him a storied interpreter of the nineteenth-century West. With all the crackling drama that defined Billy's and Ned's action-packed lives, he deftly illuminates each man's character and sets his life against the background of wider conflicts over money, power, and race. Utley shows how each was, in his own violent way, extraordinary." -- T.J. Stiles, author of The First Tycoon, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award

"Robert N. Utley's Wanted is a marvelous dual biography of the most famous outlaws of their time. Even though the Kid hailed from New Mexico and Kelly from Australia, Utley ably draws distinctive parallels between their lives. A classic study for the ages." -- Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

"Brilliant idea! Billy the Kid and Ned Kelly didn't have a lot in common, but together they make one helluva book. What makes this 'comparison test' fascinating is that the author gives you the facts and leaves you to decide for yourself. I'm still working on it." -- Frederick Nolan, author of The West of Billy the Kid

"Any book by the dean of western narrative historians is cause for celebration. Such is the case here. No one has written a book comparing one of the western demigods with a comparable legendary character from another culture. The achievement is one of a kind." -- Richard W. Etulain, author of The Life and Legends of Calamity Jane

"Can a people be defined by the iconic outlaws they embrace? Historian Robert M. Utley tackles that question and many others in this enlightening comparison of the two most famous bad boys produced by the former British colonies of the United States and Australia.  Utley, as usual, brings the past to life with graceful prose and powerful insights." -- Paul Andrew Hutton, Distinguished Professor, University of New Mexico

An Army Doctor on the Western Frontier book coverAlso Available

An Army Doctor
on the Western Frontier

Journals and Letters of
John Vance Lauderdale, 1864-1890

Edited and Annotated

at and other fine retailers

Assigned to the District of Utah during the Civil War, physician John Vance Lauderdale spent the next twenty-five years on army posts in the American West, serving in California, Arizona, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Texas. Throughout his career he kept a detailed journal and sent long letters home to his sister in upstate New York. This selection of Lauderdale’s writings offers an insightful account of army life that will teach readers much about the settlement and growth of the West in a time of rapid change.

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