Sunday, November 11, 2007

Justice in the Wild West, circa 1850

The blog entry title itself is a paradox. Justice, as we know it hardly existed during the gold rush era. This was an era of saloons, gun fights, brothels and posses. These were mean, ugly, vigilante people.

It is these lawless men who set the scene for the first several chapters of California Justice, a book by David Kulczyk chronicles the deadliest shootouts, lynchings and assassinations in California's history. From the death of a few innocent men in 1850 to the shocking assassination of Robert Kennedy by Sirhan Sirhan.

If you're a history teacher looking for a creative way to show the ways of the world in the wild west, this is your book. There are numerous examples of the chaotic towns filled with make-shift shacks and tents in the gold rush era, when men were more likely to take the law into their own hands then to listen to reason.

The stories are suspenseful, shocking and sometimes humurous, which will undoubtedly peak the interest of the passive reader. I do recommend this book for classroom use.

Two of the more famous assassinations highlighted in the book are those of Benjamin "Bugsy" Seigel and Robert Kennedy. The book can be a great introduction into a lesson about the Kennedy's or Robert Kennedy and the tumultuous racial issues of the 60s and 70s.

All in all it's a good book written in short story/vignette style. The best audience would be those interested in teaching or learngin about California history.

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