Neither a fictional biography of notorious Texas gunman John Wesley Hardin nor an actual one, Reflections in Dark Glass is based on the personal reminiscences of individuals who knew Hardin best. The book deals with relationships and details not found in the existing literature about the life of Hardin and covers the period from his boyhood to the killing of Deputy Sheriff Charlie Webb in 1874, an altercation which brought about Hardin’s incarceration in 1878 in the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.
"This is a fascinating text with echoes of Hawthorne and Faulkner . . . The story is full of mystery . . . in which the reader has to become a co-creator of the text . . . Through the Reverend Hardin we explore a certain kind of theology and ponder its effects on others . . . The post-bellum years in Texas were full of violence, the heritage of which seems still a part of the national scene."—Joseph M. Flora, author of Vardis Fisher and Hemingway’s Nick Adams
" . . . a strange and wonderful combination of personal reminiscence, historical biography, and novel. The character of Hardin is more like a force of nature than a mere man, sensual, proud, and extremely dangerous, with the language of the book brilliantly defining or redefining him over and over again."—Council Fires
"According to notes left by his son Will, in the late fall of 1900 when long time Comanche County citizen Jim Stephens sat down to write of his friendship with ‘notorious’ Texas bad man John Welsey Hardin, he had hoped to finish the project in short order. Some two years later, though he had managed to produce a fair copy of his ‘record,’ Mr. Stephens despaired of accomplishing his original intentions. He had been unable, he felt, to characterize accurately the complex relationships that made up Hardin’s life, including those with his father, J. G. Hardin, and with the family’s Negro mammy, Julia Ola Faye.
Finally, in dejection, Mr. Stephens abandoned his reminiscence and destroyed what work he had completed—or so he led his family to believe. In going through his personal effects some months after his father’s death in 1911, Will was surprised to discover the manuscript. Unfortunately, Will died in 1939 with the manuscript still unpublished. From there it passed through a number of hands until it came into my possession following the death in 1990 of my grandmother Clara Ware, who was herself a lifelong resident of Comanche County and a Hardin before her marriage. After some study, I decided the manuscript was worthy of wider distribution."—from the Preface