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Return has much in common with its predecessor. Once again, Crabb seems to have known everyone and been nearly everywhere, and his many associates--both notorious and anonymous--reappear as if by miracle. Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Annie Oakley all check in; while Crabb himself wanders the globe as Buffalo Bill Cody's right-hand man, witnesses both Hickok's and Sitting Bull's murders, and crouches behind a wagon during the O.K. Corral shootout. Berger's Twain-esque ruminations lend an air of purposefulness to Crabb's meanderings, a sense that separation is merely provisional, that existence only appears haphazard.
Crabb, however, seems more than occasionally dispirited--friends pass, younger men ascend. Midway through, though, the book gets its real charge, as Crabb confronts a fading world and a future both bright and bewildering. Sustained by an enormous heart, an affinity for exaggeration, and a conscience both weary and sentimental, he acknowledges the best--and worst--in everyone he meets. It's a story you'd like to believe. --Ben Guterson
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