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Dime Novel Desperadoes: The Notorious Maxwell Brothers Hardcover – July 16, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 428 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1 edition (July 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252033523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252033520
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,199,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Contemporaries of the James-Younger gang, Ed and Lon Maxwell were briefly quite as famous, feared, and, in Ed’s case, dead as Jesse James himself. Recalling the prominence the Maxwells’ story originally attained, historian Hallwas connects it with violence in post–Civil War society and with the popular-entertainment aspect of criminals such as the Maxwells, who inspired the cheap fiction alluded to in the title. A diligent researcher, Hallwas uncovers all data about the Maxwell family, who in the 1860s and 1870s were tenant farmers in western Illinois and Iowa. An inability to rise above tenancy status, Hallwas argues, plus a psychological search for identity as an independent, honorable man, motivated son Ed’s turn toward crime. Peaceful citizens thought Ed Maxwell needed a rope more than counseling, panicked as they were by stolen horses and murdered sheriffs along the upper Mississippi Valley, which they blamed on Ed and his pliable younger brother, Lon. Describing the posses that eventually nabbed Ed in 1881 (Lon vanished), Hallwas ably restores their escapades to the history of western outlawry. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

"Contemporaries of the James-Younger gang, Ed and Lon Maxwell were briefly quite as famous, feared, and, in Ed’s case, dead as Jesse James himself. . . . A diligent researcher, Hallwas uncovers all data about the Maxwell family, who in the 1860s and 1870s were tenant farmers in western Illinois and Iowa. . . . Describing the posses that eventually nabbed Ed in 1881 (Lon vanished), Hallwas ably restores their escapades to the history of western outlawry."--Booklist

"Well written and researched, this [is a] highly recommended piece of literature."--The Journal of American History


"Hallwas's massively researched book explores cultural and psychological factors that produced law-breakers and created a crime wave in the post-Civil War period. . . . A page turning narrative."--Quad-Cities Online



"What an intriguing book! . . . This extraordinary detailed work delves into the psychology of outlawry and the American culture that seems to find entertainment in such notorious personalities. Western history in the future should no longer ignore the escapades of the Maxwell brothers nor this excellent book."--True West


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Theseus on October 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"A thrilling crime narrative and ground-breaking historical account, Dime Novel Desperadoes recovers the long-forgotten story of Ed and Lon Maxwell, the outlaw brothers from Illinois who once rivaled Jesse and Frank James in national notoriety." "Growing up hard as the sons of a struggling tenant farmer, the Maxwell brothers started their lawbreaking as robbers and horse thieves in the 1870's, embarking on a life of crime that quickly captured the public eye."

After killing two lawmen who were after them, the brothers Maxwell became part of a national-wide manhunt which was covered breathlessly by the newspapers and which involved lynch mobs. The presence of these vigilantes caused a nation-wide debate on the subject of law and order.

Hallwas' book is a remarkable achievement, partially because it shows that outlaws in a sterotypically Western mode, functioned east of the Mississippi.

The level of detail and the level of drama which Hallwas brings to the table here is admirable. This book is a read.

The book also places the brother's crimes and many escapes in the context of post-Civil War lawlessness. Hallwas shines a light on the crippling social conditions and judicial deficiencies which helped make life as an outlaw seem feasible to some men. Finally, the book explores the nature of crime and media attention on the case of the Notorious Maxwell brothers.

Hardback with dustjacket, 401 pp. Maroon cloth over hardback boards with a sewn binding. Heavy stock. Numerous b&w illustrations with helpful maps. 50 pp of End Notes and a 13 page Bibliography.
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Format: Hardcover
Wonderful historical reference. I have not traced my family to this particular tree, but the history of the time can relate to the times my ancestors traveled west to find a better life. Most interesting was the fact that the media in that day could also slant things toward sensationalism. I wonder how many young men's lives were unduly influenced by branding them 'killers', 'bad boys' and such when they were only trying to survive and provide for their family during a dark time in history. Thought provoking.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Having grown up in the town where the lynching happened, I was always more and more curious about what led to the lynching. The author provides incredible historic detail which, alone, could have completed the story in my mind. However, his additional insight into the psychological implications based on socio-economic factors, provided multiple perspectives such that a totally objective person could have taken either side as to the moral appropriateness of the historical events.
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful By BookManBookWoman TV REVIEWS on November 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Almost as famous as the James Brothers, Ed and Lon Maxwell terrorized the upper Mid-West in the 1870's and 1880's. The perfect book for the outlaw at heart."
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