"This vignette of local southern history . . . recounts Renfroe's career as sheriff of Sumter County for a little more than two years, followed by six years of bizarre activities as a fugitive from justice before being lynched in July 1886. . . . He led the local Ku Klux Klan in 1868-69, participated in the Meridian riot of 1871, and took part in the killing of two active Republicans, one white and one black, in 1874. Rumors attributed other slayings to this violence-prone man who in 1867 had fled another county after killing his brother-in-law. . . . The story clearly illustrates the violent tactics of the redemption process."—Journal of American History
Owney Madden lived a seemingly quiet life for decades in the resort town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, while he was actually helping some of America's most notorious gangsters rule a vast criminal empire. In 1987, Graham Nown first told Madden's story in his book The English Godfather, in which he traced Madden's boyhood in England, his immigration to New York City, and his rise to mob boss. Nown also uncovered a love story involving Madden and the daughter of the Hot Springs postmaster. Before his arrival in Hot Springs, Madden was one of the most powerful gangsters in New York City and former owner of the famous Cotton Club in Harlem. The story of his life shows us a world where people can break the law without ever getting caught, and where criminality is so entwined in government and society that one might wonder what is legality and what isn't.
This deeply felt memoir is a journey through family history, feminist insight, and southern mythology. In it a daughter reflects on the complicated and volatile love she and her father shared. Shirley Jean Abbott grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in the 1940s and 50s and was the beloved daughter of Alfred Bemont Abbott, affectionately known as “Hat.” Hat wasn’t a bookmaker in the literary sense, even though he allowed Shirley’s mother to believe as much while they were dating. Rather, his craft was gambling, and his business was horse racing.
Despite the corruption, which put food on the table and rabbit coats in the closet, Abbott remembers the kind and attentive father who spent nights reading to her. He alone is responsible for opening the door to a world of language and literature for her. And she ran with it. Against her father’s wishes, after graduation she headed for New York City. In the end, the girl he had nurtured into an independent and intelligent young woman had outgrown the small town where she grew up. The Bookmaker’s Daughter was originally published by Ticknor and Fields in 1992 and was a Book of the Month Club selection.
The legends that die hardest are those of the romantic outlaw, and those of swashbuckling pirates are surely among the most durable. Swift ships, snug inns, treasures buried by torchlight, palm-fringed beaches, fabulous riches, and, most of all, freedom from the mean life of the laboring man are the stuff of this tradition reinforced by many a novel and film.
It is disconcerting to think of such dashing scoundrels as slaves to economic forces, but so they were—as Robert Ritchie demonstrates in this lively history of piracy. He focuses on the shadowy figure of William Kidd, whose career in the late seventeenth century swept him from the Caribbean to New York, to London, to the Indian Ocean before he ended in Newgate prison and on the gallows. Piracy in those days was encouraged by governments that could not afford to maintain a navy in peacetime. Kidd’s most famous voyage was sponsored by some of the most powerful men in England, and even though such patronage granted him extraordinary privileges, it tied him to the political fortunes of the mighty Whig leaders. When their influence waned, the opposition seized upon Kidd as a weapon. Previously sympathetic merchants and shipowners did an about-face too and joined the navy in hunting down Kidd and other pirates.
By the early eighteenth century, pirates were on their way to becoming anachronisms. Ritchie’s wide-ranging research has probed this shift in the context of actual voyages, sea fights, and adventures ashore. What sort of men became pirates in the first place, and why did they choose such an occupation? What was life like aboard a pirate ship? How many pirates actually became wealthy? How were they governed? What large forces really caused their downfall?
As the saga of the buccaneers unfolds, we see the impact of early modern life: social changes and Anglo-American politics, the English judicial system, colonial empires, rising capitalism, and the maturing bureaucratic state are all interwoven in the story. Best of all, Captain Kidd and the War against the Pirates is an epic of adventure on the high seas and a tale of back-room politics on land that captures the mind and the imagination.
In this riveting true story of coming of age in the Chicago Mob, Charles “Charley” Hager is plucked from his rural West Virginia home by an uncle in the 1960s and thrown into an underworld of money, cars, crime, and murder on the streets of Chicago Heights.
Street-smart and good with his hands, Hager is accepted into the working life of a chauffeur and “street tax” collector, earning the moniker “Little Joe College” by notorious mob boss Albert Tocco. But when his childhood friend is gunned down by a hit man, Hager finds himself a bit player in the events surrounding the mysterious, and yet unsolved, murder of mafia chief Sam Giancana.
Chicago Heights is part rags-to-riches story, part murder mystery, and part redemption tale. Hager, with author David T. Miller, juxtaposes his early years in West Virginia with his life in crime, intricately weaving his own experiences into the fabric of mob life, its many characters, and the murder of Giancana.
Fueled by vivid recollections of turf wars and chop shops, of fix-ridden harness racing and the turbulent politics of the 1960s, Chicago Heights reveals similarities between high-level organized crime in the city and the corrupt lawlessness of Appalachia. Hager candidly reveals how he got caught up in a criminal life, what it cost him, and how he rebuilt his life back in West Virginia with a prison record.
Based on interviews with Hager and supplemented by additional interviews and extensive research by Miller, the book also adds Hager’s unique voice to the volumes of speculation about Giancana’s murder, offering a plausible theory of what happened on that June night in 1975.
The True Story of One of America’s Most Enigmatic and Tragic Heroes
Awarded Best Western History Book of 2008 by the Wild West History Association
"A superb biography"—Foreword Reviews
"An ambitious, well-written effort to restore a Wild West desperado to history.... Readers will surely remember Jack Slade from henceforth. A treat for Western history buffs and fans of true crime."—Kirkus Reviews
"An enjoyable read, and it is also a heroic effort."—Wall Street Journal
"Every bit the page-turner as Roughing It, with one added advantage—Rottenberg's book approaches the truth."—Wild West magazine
"Now and then a book of Western history comes along that captures an era and clears up many a mystery; Death of a Gunfighter is such a book."—Colorado Central magazine
In 1859, as the United States careened toward civil war, Washington's only northern link with America's richest state, California, was a stagecoach line operating between Missouri and the Pacific. Yet the stage line was plagued by graft, outlaws, and hostile Indians. At this critical moment, the company enlisted a former wagon train captain and Mexican War veteran to clean up its most dangerous division. Over the next three years, Joseph Alfred "Jack" Slade exceeded his employers' wildest dreams, capturing bandits and horse thieves and driving away gangs; he even shot to death a disruptive employee. He kept the stagecoaches and the U.S. Mail running, and helped launch the Pony Express, all of which kept California in the Union—and without California's gold, the Union would have failed to finance its cause. Across the Great Plains he became known as "The Law West of Kearny."
Slade's legend grew when he was shot multiple times and left for dead, only to survive and exact revenge on his would-be killer. But once Slade had restored the peace, leaving him without challenges, his life descended into an alcoholic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde nightmare, transforming him from a courageous leader, charming gentleman, and devoted husband into a vicious, quick-triggered ruffian—a purported outlaw —who finally lost his life at the hands of vigilantes.
Since Slade's death in 1864, persistent myths and stories have defied the efforts of writers and historians, including Mark Twain, to capture the real Jack Slade. Despite his notoriety, the pieces of Slade's fascinating life—including his marriage to the beautiful Maria Virginia—have remained scattered and hidden. He was never photographed and left almost no personal writings, not even a letter. In Death of a Gunfighter: The Quest for Jack Slade, the West's Most Elusive Legend, journalist Dan Rottenberg assembles years of research to reveal the true story of Jack Slade, one of America's greatest tragic heroes.
George Washington may never have told a lie, but he may be the only person—our history is littered with liars, deceivers, fraudsters, counterfeiters, and unfaithful lovers. The Encyclopaedia of Liars and Deceivers gathers 150 of them, each entry telling the intriguing tale of the liar’s motives and the people who fell for the lies.
To collect these stories of deceit, Roelf Bolt travels from ancient times to the present day, documenting a huge assortment of legerdemain: infamous quacks, fraudulent scientists, crooks who committed “pseudocides” by faking their own deaths, and forgers of artworks, design objects, archaeological finds, and documents. From false royal claims, fake dragon’s eggs, and bogus perpetual motion machines to rare books, mermaid skeletons, and Stradivari violins, Bolt reveals that almost everything has been forged or faked by someone at some point in history. His short, accessible narratives in each entry offer biographies and general observations on specific categories of deceit, and Bolt captures an impressive number of famous figures—including Albert Einstein, Cicero, Ptolemy, Ernest Hemingway, François Mitterand, and Marco Polo—as well as people who would have remained anonymous had their duplicity not come to light.
Funny, shocking, and even awe-inspiring, the stories of deception in this catalog of shame make The Encyclopaedia of Liars and Deceivers the perfect gift for all those who enjoy a good tall tale—and those people who like to tell them.
What do a rockabilly musician turned cinematic swamp monster, a composer of player-piano music, an avant-garde cellist, a musical instrument that lent its name to a weapon, a rock musician turned Catholic monk, some of the best audio speakers in the world, and the creator of Schoolhouse Rock! have in common? That's right--they all come from Arkansas. Encyclopedia of Arkansas Music is a special project of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture (EOA), an online encyclopedia launched in 2006 by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System. This colorful, photo-filled reference work spanning all aspects of Arkansas's musical past and present includes more than 150 entries on musicians, ensembles, musical works, and events.
In August 1995 David Kaczynski's wife Linda asked him a difficult question: "Do you think your brother Ted is the Unabomber?" He couldn't be, David thought. But as the couple pored over the Unabomber's seventy-eight-page manifesto, David couldn't rule out the possibility. It slowly became clear to them that Ted was likely responsible for mailing the seventeen bombs that killed three people and injured many more. Wanting to prevent further violence, David made the agonizing decision to turn his brother in to the FBI.
Every Last Tie is David's highly personal and powerful memoir of his family, as well as a meditation on the possibilities for reconciliation and maintaining family bonds. Seen through David's eyes, Ted was a brilliant, yet troubled, young mathematician and a loving older brother. Their parents were supportive and emphasized to their sons the importance of education and empathy. But as Ted grew older he became more and more withdrawn, his behavior became increasingly erratic, and he often sent angry letters to his family from his isolated cabin in rural Montana.
During Ted's trial David worked hard to save Ted from the death penalty, and since then he has been a leading activist in the anti–death penalty movement. The book concludes with an afterword by psychiatry professor and forensic psychiatrist James L. Knoll IV, who discusses the current challenges facing the mental health system in the United States as well as the link between mental illness and violence.
Between 1905 and 1939 a conspicuously tall white man with a shock of red hair, dressed in a silk shirt and white linen trousers, could be seen on the streets of Onitsha, in Eastern Nigeria. How was it possible for an unconventional, boy-loving Englishman to gain a social status among the local populace enjoyed by few other Europeans in colonial West Africa?
In The Forger’s Tale: The Search for Odeziaku Stephanie Newell charts the story of the English novelist and poet John Moray Stuart-Young (1881–1939) as he traveled from the slums of Manchester to West Africa in order to escape the homophobic prejudices of late-Victorian society. Leaving behind a criminal record for forgery and embezzlement and his notoriety as a “spirit rapper,” Stuart-Young found a new identity as a wealthy palm oil trader and a celebrated author, known to Nigerians as “Odeziaku.”
In this fascinating biographical account, Newell draws on queer theory, African gender debates, and “new imperial history” to open up a wider study of imperialism, (homo)sexuality, and nonelite culture between the 1880s and the late 1930s. The Forger’s Tale pays close attention to different forms of West African cultural production in the colonial period and to public debates about sexuality and ethics, as well as to movements in mainstream English literature.
At 2.26 million, incarcerated Americans not only outnumber the nation’s fourth-largest city, they make up a national constituency bound by a shared condition. Fourth City: Essays from the Prison in America presents more than seventy essays from twenty-seven states, written by incarcerated Americans chronicling their experience inside. In essays as moving as they are eloquent, the authors speak out against a national prison complex that fails so badly at the task of rehabilitation that 60% of the 650,000 Americans released each year return to prison. These essays document the authors’ efforts at self-help, the institutional resistance such efforts meet at nearly every turn, and the impact, in money and lives, that this resistance has on the public. Directly confronting the images of prisons and prisoners manufactured by popular media, so-called reality TV, and for-profit local and national news sources, Fourth City recognizes American prisoners as our primary, frontline witnesses to the dysfunction of the largest prison system on earth. Filled with deeply personal stories of coping, survival, resistance, and transformation, Fourth City should be read by every American who believes that law should achieve order in the cause of justice rather than at its cost.
“We could have been called a lot of things: brazen vandals, scared kids, threats to social order, self-obsessed egomaniacs, marginalized youth, outsider artists, trend setters, and thrill seekers. But, to me, we were just regular kids growing up hard in America and making the city our own. Being ‘writers’ gave us something to live for and ‘going all city’ gave us something to strive for; and for some of my friends it was something to die for.”
In the age of commissioned wall murals and trendy street art, it’s easy to forget graffiti’s complicated and often violent past in the United States. Though graffiti has become one of the most influential art forms of the twenty-first century, cities across the United States waged a war against it from the late 1970s to the early 2000s, complete with brutal police task forces. Who were the vilified taggers they targeted? Teenagers, usually, from low-income neighborhoods with little to their names except a few spray cans and a desperate need to be seen—to mark their presence on city walls and buildings even as their cities turned a blind eye to them.
Going All City is the mesmerizing and painful story of these young graffiti writers, told by one of their own. Prolific LA writer Stefano Bloch came of age in the late 1990s amid constant violence, poverty, and vulnerability. He recounts vicious interactions with police; debating whether to take friends with gunshot wounds to the hospital; coping with his mother’s heroin addiction; instability and homelessness; and his dread that his stepfather would get out of jail and tip his unstable life into full-blown chaos. But he also recalls moments of peace and exhilaration: marking a fresh tag; the thrill of running with his crew at night; exploring the secret landscape of LA; the dream and success of going all city.
Bloch holds nothing back in this fierce, poignant memoir. Going All City is an unflinching portrait of a deeply maligned subculture and an unforgettable account of what writing on city walls means to the most vulnerable people living within them.
During the bleak days of the Great Depression, news of economic hardship often took a backseat to articles on the exploits of an outlaw from Indiana—John Dillinger. For a period of fourteen months during 1933 and 1934 Dillinger became the most famous bandit in American history, and no criminal since has matched him for his celebrity and notoriety.
Dillinger won public attention not only for his robberies, but his many escapes from the law. The escapes he made from jails or “tight spots,” when it seemed law officials had him cornered, became the stuff of legends. While the public would never admit that they wanted the “bad guy” to win, many could not help but root for the man who appeared to be an underdog.
Although his crime wave took place in the last century, the name Dillinger has never left the public imagination
In the Godfather Garden is the true story of the life of Richie “the Boot” Boiardo, one of the most powerful and feared men in the New Jersey underworld. The Boot cut his teeth battling the Jewish gang lord Abner Longy Zwillman on the streets of Newark during Prohibition and endured to become one of the East Coast’s top mobsters, his reign lasting six decades.
To the press and the police, this secretive Don insisted he was nothing more than a simple man who enjoyed puttering about in his beloved vegetable garden on his Livingston, New Jersey, estate. In reality, the Boot was a confidante and kingmaker of politicians, a friend of such celebrities as Joe DiMaggio and George Raft, an acquaintance of Joseph Valachi—who informed on the Boot in 1963—and a sworn enemy of J. Edgar Hoover.
The Boot prospered for more than half a century, remaining an active boss until the day he died at the age of ninety-three. Although he operated in the shadow of bigger Mafia names across the Hudson River (think Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, a cofounder of the Mafia killer squad Murder Inc. with Jacob “Gurrah” Shapiro), the Boot was equally as brutal and efficient. In fact, there was a mysterious place in the gloomy woods behind his lovely garden—a furnace where many thought the Boot took certain people who were never seen again.
Richard Linnett provides an intimate look inside the Boot’s once-powerful Mafia crew, based on the recollections of a grandson of the Boot himself and complemented by never-before-published family photos. Chronicled here are the Prohibition gang wars in New Jersey as well as the murder of Dutch Schultz, a Mafia conspiracy to assassinate Newark mayor Kenneth Gibson, and the mob connections to several prominent state politicians.
Although the Boot never saw the 1972 release of The Godfather, he appreciated the similarities between the character of Vito Corleone and himself, so much so that he hung a sign in his beloved vegetable garden that read “The Godfather Garden.” There’s no doubt he would have relished David Chase’s admission that his muse in creating the HBO series The Sopranos was none other than “Newark’s erstwhile Boiardo crew.”
When twelve-year-old Jesse Pomeroy tortured seven small boys in the Boston area and then went on to brutally murder two other children, one of the most striking aspects of his case was his inability ever to answer the question of why he did what he did. Whether in court or in the newspapers, many experts tried to explain his horrible acts—and distance the rest of society from them. Despite those efforts, and attempts since, the mystery remains.
In this book, Dawn Keetley details the story of Pomeroy's crimes and the intense public outcry. She explores the two reigning theories at the time—that he was shaped before birth when his pregnant mother visited a slaughterhouse and that he imitated brutal acts found in popular dime novels. Keetley then thoughtfully offers a new theory: that Pomeroy suffered a devastating reaction to a smallpox vaccination which altered his brain, creating a psychopath who revealed the human potential for brutality. The reaction to Pomeroy's acts, then and now, demonstrates the struggle to account for exactly those aspects of human nature that remain beyond our ability to understand.
Frank Tannenbaum Outstanding Book Award from the American Society of Criminology Faculty Senate Award for Research from Loyola University New Orleans
Out of the Red is one man’s pathbreaking story of how social forces and personal choices combined to deliver an unfortunate fate. After a childhood of poverty, institutional discrimination, violence, and being thrown away by the public education system, Bolden's life took him through the treacherous landscape of street gangs at the age of fourteen. The Bloods offered a sense of family, protection, excitement, and power. Incarcerated during the Texas prison boom, the teenage former gangster was thrust into a fight for survival as he navigated the perils of adult prison. As mass incarceration and prison gangs swallowed up youth like him, survival meant finding hope in a hopeless situation and carving a path to his own rehabilitation. Despite all odds, he forged a new path through education, ultimately achieving the seemingly impossible for a formerly incarcerated ex-gangbanger.
Meet Netley Lucas, Prince of Tricksters—royal biographer, best-selling crime writer, and gentleman crook. In the years after the Great War, Lucas becomes infamous for climbing the British social ladder by his expert trickery—his changing names and telling of tales. An impudent young playboy and a confessed confidence trickster, he finances his far-flung hedonism through fraud and false pretenses. After repeated spells in prison, Lucas transforms himself into a confessing “ex-crook,” turning his inside knowledge of the underworld into a lucrative career as freelance journalist and crime expert. But then he’s found out again—exposed and disgraced for faking an exclusive about a murder case. So he reinvents himself, taking a new name and embarking on a prolific, if short-lived, career as a royal biographer and publisher. Chased around the world by detectives and journalists after yet another sensational scandal, the gentleman crook dies as spectacularly as he lived—a washed-up alcoholic, asphyxiated in a fire of his own making.
The lives of Netley Lucas are as flamboyant as they are unlikely. In Prince of Tricksters, Matt Houlbrook picks up the threads of Lucas’s colorful lies and lives. Interweaving crime writing and court records, letters and life-writing, Houlbrook tells Lucas’s fascinating story and, in the process, provides a panoramic view of the 1920s and ’30s. In the restless times after the Great War, the gentlemanly trickster was an exemplary figure, whose tall tales and bogus biographies exposed the everyday difficulties of knowing who and what to trust. Tracing how Lucas both evoked and unsettled the world through which he moved, Houlbrook shows how he prompted a pervasive crisis of confidence that encompassed British society, culture, and politics.
Taking readers on a romp through Britain, North America, and eventually into Africa, Houlbrook confronts readers with the limits of our knowledge of the past and challenges us to think anew about what history is and how it might be made differently.
Alexander Berkman Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress HX843.5.B47 2011 | Dewey Decimal 335.8309748
Published here for the first time is a crucial document in the history of American radicalism—the "Prison Blossoms," a series of essays, narratives, poems, and fables composed by three activist anarchists imprisoned for the 1892 assault on anti-union steel tycoon Henry Clay Frick.
On November 8, 1985, 18-year-old Tom Odle brutally murdered his parents and three siblings in the small southern Illinois town of Mount Vernon, sending shockwaves throughout the nation. The murder of the Odle family remains one of the most horrific family mass murders in U.S. history. Odle was sentenced to death and, after seventeen years on death row, expected a lethal injection to end his life. However, Illinois governor George Ryan’s moratorium on the death penalty in 2000, and later commutation of all death sentences in 2003, changed Odle’s sentence to natural life.
The commutation of his death sentence was an epiphany for Odle. Prior to the commutation of his death sentence, Odle lived in denial, repressing any feelings about his family and his horrible crime. Following the commutation and the removal of the weight of eventual execution associated with his death sentence, he was confronted with an unfamiliar reality. A future. As a result, he realized that he needed to understand why he murdered his family. He reached out to Dr. Robert Hanlon, a neuropsychologist who had examined him in the past. Dr. Hanlon engaged Odle in a therapeutic process of introspection and self-reflection, which became the basis of their collaboration on this book.
Hanlon tells a gripping story of Odle’s life as an abused child, the life experiences that formed his personality, and his tragic homicidal escalation to mass murder, seamlessly weaving into the narrative Odle’s unadorned reflections of his childhood, finding a new family on death row, and his belief in the powers of redemption.
As our nation attempts to understand the continual mass murders occurring in the U.S., Survived by One sheds some light on the psychological aspects of why and how such acts of extreme carnage may occur. However, Survived by One offers a never-been-told perspective from the mass murderer himself, as he searches for the answers concurrently being asked by the nation and the world.
The fugitive slave known as “Three-Fingered Jack” terrorized colonial Jamaica from 1780 until vanquished by Maroons, self-emancipated Afro-Jamaicans bound by treaty to police the island for runaways and rebels. A thief and a killer, Jack was also a freedom fighter who sabotaged the colonial machine until his grisly death at its behest. Narratives about his exploits shed light on the problems of black rebellion and solutions administered by the colonial state, creating an occasion to consider counter-narratives about its methods of divide and conquer. For more than two centuries, writers, performers, and storytellers in England, Jamaica, and the United States have “thieved" Three Fingered Jack's riveting tale, defining black agency through and against representations of his resistance.
Frances R. Botkin offers a literary and cultural history that explores the persistence of stories about this black rebel, his contributions to constructions of black masculinity in the Atlantic world, and his legacies in Jamaican and United States popular culture.
Few people today remember John Swainson. As a teenage soldier he lost both legs in a WWII landmine explosion. Back in the United States, following a meteoric political rise in the Michigan State Senate, Swainson was elected as Michigan's youngest governor since Stevens T. Mason.
In 1970 Swainson was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court, becoming one of the few public officials to have served in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of state government. Then, in 1957, he was indicted on federal charges of bribery and perjury, and convicted of lying to a federal grand jury. Forced to leave the state Supreme Court and disbarred from practicing law, he became a pariah, sinking into depression and alcoholism. He virtually disappeared from public view.
Lawrence M. Glazer re-examines the FBI's investigation of Swainson and delves into his 1975 trial in detail. He reveals new information from eye-witnesses who never testified and, in a poignant coda, relates the little-known story of Swainson's rehabilitation and return to public life as a historian.