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Gunfighters, Highwaymen, and Vigilantes: Violence on the Frontier Paperback – March 23, 1987

ISBN-13: 978-0520060265 ISBN-10: 0520060261

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Gunfighters, Highwaymen, and Vigilantes: Violence on the Frontier + Bodie’s Gold: Tall Tales and True History from a California Mining Town
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (March 23, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520060261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520060265
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #597,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Steve on February 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book opened my eyes to what life on the western frontier was really like. Forget current media fictionalizations, the frontier was not a shooting gallery. No handsome stranger rides into to town to save the cowering inhabitants from evil. The crooks and crooked politics are all there, just like they are today. The sheriff was not always the stalwart defender of the law, in fact he sometimes had business interests to protect.
McGrath offers a carefully documented narrative of the day to day goings on during the gold rush. The data is from public records and the fill-in is from newspaper archives. A detailed yet readable account of frontier life. Far better than any cowboy novel, this is the real west.
Steve Hurst
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mesquite Pete on March 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
I found the title of this book to be a bit misleading, as Roger McGrath's research in the book involves violence commited by much more than just gunfighters, highwaymen and vigilantes. I was also surprised to find the research to be concentrated soley on two boom towns on the Nevada/California border. But the research is so deep and so thorough, you can come away with a very good idea of what kind of violence was present in that time and place. McGrath then uses that research to compare the violence found in an 1800's frontier town with the violence we encounter in cities of our present time. These comparisons, which he brings out at the very end of the book, were very enlightening and thought provoking, and made the book well worth my time to read.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By STEPHEN T. McCARTHY on May 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
Just a few days ago, I received my latest copy of THE NEW AMERICAN magazine and found an excellent article in it by Roger D. McGrath titled, "MAKING OUR SCHOOLS SAFE." This edition of the fine current events periodical was inspired by the terrible Virginia Tech campus shooting. McGrath wrote, "For several decades now, I have said that every 'gun control' law should be titled a 'Criminal Empowerment Act,' . . . Reality demonstrates that it is all well and good that sheep pass laws requiring vegetarianism, but until the wolves circling the flock agree, those laws don't mean a thing." His article made me realize how remiss I have been in failing to write, until now, a review for his outstanding book GUNFIGHTERS, HIGHWAYMEN & VIGILANTES.

McGrath's publication was used as the textbook for a very popular course he taught on American West history at the University of California, Los Angeles, while I was a full-time employee on that campus. I purchased my copy at the ASUCLA Student's Store in 1990, and I have gone back to reread sections from it numerous times over the years as GUNFIGHTERS, HIGHWAYMEN & VIGILANTES examines my favorite American epoch and it raises scholarly historical research to an absolute art form! Sifting through innumerable newspapers, as well as court records, jail registers, and journal entries from that time, McGrath fashions a nearly comprehensive account of the violent goings-on in the Nineteenth Century California mining camps of Aurora and Bodie. (In its time, Bodie was considered to be perhaps the wildest of all Wild West towns.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Peterson on March 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book opened my eyes to how far off Hollywood and the Myths of the 'Old West' are just not correct. At the end the author compares the safety of Aurora and Bodie compared to modern day Chicago. (And yes these two violent towns were safer for law abiding citizens). Few books have changed my perception of history more than this book has.
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