Joseph Paul Summers Brown was born in Nogales, Arizona in 1930. His family has been cattlemen in Mexico and Arizona for six generations. He graduated from Saint Michaels High School in Santa Fe in 1948 and from Notre Dame University in 1952. He worked as a reporter on two Arizona newspapers and the El Paso Herald-Post until 1954.
Commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1955, he served as an infantry platoon commander in Japan. Transferred to Marine Corp Mountain Leadership School at Bridgeport, California in 1956, he served as an instructor-guide in military rock climbing and animal packing.
Released from the Marines in 1958, he moved to Mexico to trade in cattle and horses. He moved to Navojoa, Sonora in 1960 to buy cattle for American rodeo. He rode the horseshoe trails of the Sierra Madre Occidental in Chihuahua and ranched on the desert of the Sea of Cortez in Sonora.
He boxed professionally in Mexico from 1960 until 1964 and began writing his first novel, Jim Kane. In 1968, he worked on Art Linkletter's Lida, Nevada ranch.
Jim Kane was published in 1970 by Dial Press in New York and made into the movie Pocket Money with Paul Newman and Lee Marvin in 1972.
The Outfit, based on his Nevada experience was published by Dial in 1972. He ranched in Arizona until 1977 when he began providing cattle and horses for Western movie productions in Tucson.
The novel The Forests of the Night, (Dial Press, 1974) has been published in France in November 2011, by Editions Archipel (La piste du jaguar).
Keep the Devil Waiting was published by Bantam in 1992. The Blooded Stock, The Horseman, Ladino and Native Born were published by Bantam and Doubleday during the years between 1989 and 1994.
His book of short stories titled The Cinnamon Colt was published by Doubleday in 1996. Steeldust was published by MQM Publishing, a company owned by Brown, in 1997.
All these ten novels are still available, republished by Authors Guild.
The World in Pancho's Eye was published by University of New Mexico Press in October, 2007 and chosen as one of Ten Most Notable Books of 2007 by the Arizona Historical Society; also Wolves At Our Door, published by UNM Press April, 2008 was picked as one of Ten Most Notable Books of 2008 by the Arizona Historical Society. This book was also one of three finalists for the Spur Award that was given for Best Long Novel of 2008 by The Western Writers of America.
Recently he collaborated with Enrique Azcona to complete a novel titled Serpentine about the child merchants of the streets in a Mexican town that borders the United States. They live by their wits to win a few pesos a day any way they can, but keep their innocence.
I have long considered Brown in the top ten of my favorite contemporary American writers. Simply enough, no one writes more authentically and beautifully about the American west.
Jim Kane (Dial Press, 1970/Authors Guild, 2008)
An episodic novel about an Arizona cowboy named Jim Kane who buy horses and cattle in Mexico for export to the United States and proves once and for all that cowboys exist in our time and are still determined to live according to their own principles.
Jim Kane uses trains, cars, trucks and airplanes to do his work, but more often his saddle horse Pajaro partners with him wherever he goes on the horsehoe trails of the Sierra Madre Occidental of Chihuahua, Mexico, the coastal desert of Sonora, Mexico, and the desert of Arizona.
Every episode of this novel is a new adventure as Kane trades cattle with good men and bad. He makes enemies and has to fight them, but he also wins splendid friends, including a beautiful, haughty girl who leaves all cowboys and vaqueros dead in her wake, until she meets Jim Kane.
The Outfit (Dial Press, 1972/Authors Guild, 2008)
J.P.S. Brown’s second novel about cattle ranching and cowboy life today follows the lives of a crew as it gathers thousands of wild cattle on a million unfenced acres of a Nevada ranch.
The cow boss, Porter, is worn and wise from 76 years with horses and cattle, but his experience and patience are invaluable. The Paiute Indian cowboy Wilson, is too savage to conform to the ways of the city people who run the ranch from a fancy front office in another state. The main character, Sorrells, holds the crew of wild, independent cowboys together, even though he is as lawless and as reckless as they are. For all their wildness and rough talk, the cowboys are fine husbandmen who handle big, fast, crafty animals that have strong personalities and wills of their own.
The cowboys are devoted to the hard work that is needed to bring wild animals to market, but they also know how to play hard on the rare occasions they go to town. The life is rough, wild and dangerous and goes on so far away from the mainstream of American life that the author calls it, “a country where the sun sets between us and town.”
The Outfit is owned by an actor whose son runs it from an office on “The Boulevard of Dreams” in Hollywood as a tax write-off. However, the cowboys are paid little for their work. As Sorrells says, “We’d be fools to do it for money. We do it because we were born to it and we’re better at it than anyone else in the world.”
The Forests of the Night (Dial Press, 1974/Authors Guild, 2008)
This is the story of a jaguar called El Yoco who has become spoiled on his own magnificence and begins to prey on men and livestock in the primitive Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico. After he raids Adan Martinillo’s ranch and terrorizes his family, Adan goes after him. The man is well known for his prowess as a hunter and tracker. No animal or man is as accomplished and skilled as a killer than El Yoco and now he often kills only because he is so good at it.
At the same time, a young rancher who grew up with a belief that no man can prove his manhood in any better way than to kill another man, murders a neighbor and kidnaps his daughter for no other reason that to prove he is good at it. He, like El Yoco, begins to celebrate his skill at killing. The farmers and ranchers, women and children, good people and bad who witness the progress of the two completely unrelated killers are happy that Adan is on their trails. No one else has the courage or instinct to do the work that Adan was born to do. When Adan fails to overtake and kill El Yoco quickly they berate him. When he falls ill with walking pneumonia, then is knifed by the young murderer, he becomes the object of ridicule.
The tale shows man caught in nature’s savage embrace and in the end, nature has its way.
Foreign Rights sold to:
Archipel (France), 2011