needed to halt the disintegration ofrnour society requires purpose andrnintelligence. There won’t be anyrnmoney or glory in it, but we haverninherited a great and noble tradition,rnand it is worth fighting for.rnAs a publisher and as an author, HenryrnRegnery fought gallantly for the civilizationrnhe loved until his death. In thisrnlearned and rewarding book, we have anrnenduring testament to the nature andrnmagnitude of his achievement, and ofrnour loss.rn]ohn Attarian writes from Ann Arbor,rnMichigan.rnThe Newspaper Westrnby Bill CrokernFlint’s Honorrnby Richard S. WheelerrnNew York: Forge Books; 320 pp., $23.95rnIn hlint’s Honor, Richard Wheeler hasrnpainted a realishc portrait of life in arnColorado mining town, with special emphasisrnon the importance of newspapersrnin die civic life of the frontier West.rnSam Flint (a character continuing torndevelop from two earlier Wheeler novels)rnis an idealistic newspaperman firstrndrawn to raucous Silver City (a town in arngulch “two miles long and three yardsrnwide”) after reading a vicious account ofrna young prostitute’s suicide written byrnDigby Westminster, editor and publisherrnof the Silver City Democrat. Appalled,rnFlint resolves to take his printing press tornSiKcr Cit’ to start up a rival newspaper,rnone that will champion—among otherrnthings —reforms intended to spread therntax burden more fairly, to the relief of therndenizens of the town’s “sporting district”rnwho presently carr)’ it.rnhi elite academic circles. Westerns arerncondemned as suhliterate pabulum forrncelebrating self-reliance in a contemporaryrnworld of victims, yet they remain —rnwith the exception of the myster^’-detectivernnovel —the only really plot-drivenrnfiction still published. Considered thisrnway, the Western has more in commonrnwith classic American fiction than withrntlic ideologically trendy and vacuousrnpostmodern American writing prevalentrntoday. I find it odd that Dashiell Hammett’srnand Raymond Chandler’s noirrnclassics are now popular in the academy,rnbut Walter van Tilburg Clark’s and OwenrnWister’s books are not, except as examplesrnby which to disparage the “m)’th” ofrnthe West. (Wallace Stegner, for instance,rnthought The Virginian to be at best a “literaternhorse opera.”)rnSam Flint drives his wagon, loadedrnwith printing press, into Sih’er Cit’. Hernreluctantly rents space (there is no otherrnavailable) in a brothel from ChastityrnFord, a stereotypical prostitute with arnheart of gold, and begins to publish thernSilver City Sentinel with the idea of competingrnwith the corrupt Westminster, arnman described as “the brethren of rattlesnakes.”rnWheeler crafts fine sentences full ofrnvivid imagery and detail. He possessesrnthe narrative gift, and his knowledge ofrnthe history and culture of the AmericanrnWest is first rate. Wlieeler knows how hisrnfictional milieu looks, right down to thernsaloons dug into the side of a mountain.rnWhat mars an otherwise good novel isrnwhat mars every Western: The charactersrnare usually no more than the clichedrncardboard cutouts, their lives reeking ofrnmelodrama, that populate a thousandrnHollywood Westerns. The novelistiernWestern is often a cinematic parody.rnFlint struggles against the odds to getrnhis paper off the ground. He has to contendrnwith the disruptive machinations ofrnWestminster, who has locked up the adrnmarket and who editorializes relentlesslyrnagainst the new “Bawdyhouse Bugle.”rnAnd Flint takes on the powcrs-that-be,rnthe slirny Balthazars—Achilles and hisrnson Hamlin — the owners of the SilverrnQueen, the mine that made the town.rnFlint’s crusade for better wages and workingrncondihons for miners, and his publishingrnads from other mines in Coloradornthat offer such, rocks Silver City’s municipalrnboat. He also makes an enemy ofrnSheriff Drew Poindexter, the hackneyedrncorrupt lawman who takes his ordersrnfrom the moneyed interests and persecutesrnthose not handy with a bribe.rnChastity Ford takes a liking to thernchaste Flint and tries, subtly but continually,rnto seduce him, offering her servicesrnfree of charge. Flint—a paragon of moralrnand civic virtue-as constantly resists herrncharms. But a mutual respect developsrnbetween them, and when he and hisrnhired printer witness her brutal murder atrnthe hands of Hamlin Balthazar, thernkilling reinforces his determination tornclean up Silver Cit’. And so a convoluted,rnthough plausible, plot goes forward.rnWheeler’s knowledge of frontier newspaperingrnis formidable. One has the impressionrnthat he could publish a paper usingrna rotary flatbed press. He is familiarrnwith the laundry list of dirty tricks employedrnin 19th-century newspaper wars,rnfrom beating up rival newsboys to pieingrnan editor’s type. Familiar in the trade wasrnthe “gypsy” or “tramp” printer, usually arnsemi-learned young man whose itinerantrnlife kept him crisscrossing the West andrnworking for various papers, never knowingrnwhere his next dollar or drink wasrncoming from, fn Flint’s Honor, tlie role isrnplayed by Jude Napolean. As Flint andrnNapolean (“the bantam printer”) wagerntheir newspaper war, the’ employ all therntricks available to intelligent and desperaternunderdogs —including printing thernSentinel in a neighboring town when thernBalthazars seize the press in lieu ofrnrent—in a thinking-on-thcir-feet enterprisernthat drives the book to its conclusion.rnWhile returning from their press, Flintrnand Napolean are waylaid by the fugitivernHamlin Balthazar, who seeks to disposernof the two witnesses to his murderous act.rnBut they gain the upper fiand and deliverrnBalthazar to a chastened SherifiF Poindexterrn(who foresees that Flint’s dogged Sentinelrnwill eventually prevail], DigbyrnWestminster-losing his subscribers andrnad revenue to Flint—steals away in thernmiddle of the night, leaving the SentinelrnSilver City’s sole paper. At book’s end,rnFlint sets up his press in a new locationrnand hires as an assistant Livia Bridge —rnone of his few initial supporters—who wernare led to believe will be Flint’s futurernwife. Jude Napolean moves on to thernnext paper, leaving Flint to muse that,rn”Whoever Jude Napolean was, hernseemed a miracle . . . Now he [Flint| believedrnin miracles . . . “rnFlint’s Hcmor suffers from the melodramarnof even flic best Westerns. But it is sornwell written, and has such a first-rate plot,rnthat in the end it is a novel not only forrnconnoisseurs of the Western but of thernnovel as a literary form.rnBill Croke writes from Cody, Wyoming.rnM O V I N G ?rnCHRONICLES Subscription Dept.rnI’.O. Il