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Dirty, Wicked Town (Nebraska) Paperback – April 1, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"It requires but little, if any, stretch of the imagination to regard Omaha as a cesspool of iniquity, for it is given up to lawlessness and is overrun with a horde of fugitives from justice and dangerous men of all kinds who carry things with a high hand and a loose rein...If you want to find a rogue's rookery, go to Omaha." A Kansas City newspaper

Hast ever been in Omaha, Where rolls the dark Missouri down, And four strong horses scarce can draw An emtpy wagon through town? Where sand is blown from ever mound To fill the eyes and ears and throat-- Where all the steamers are aground And all the shanties are afloat? Where whisky shops the livelong night Are vending out their poison juice; Where men are often very tight, And women deemed a trifle loose? Where taverns have an anxious guest For every corner, shelf and crack; With half the people going west, And all the others going back? Where theaters are all the run, And bloody scalpers come to trade; Where everything is overdone And everybody underpaid? If not, take heed to what I say: You'll find it just as I have found it; And if it lies upon your way, For God's sake, reader, go around it! Poem from 1869 Harper's Magazine

About the Author

<div></div>David L. Bristow has lived in Omaha since 1992.  He writes for various magazines and is currently working on a novel.  A Dirty, Wicked Town is his first book.
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Product Details

  • Series: Nebraska
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Caxton Press; 1st edition (April 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870043986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870043987
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
David Bristow's book "A Dirty, Wicked Town: Tales of 19th Century Omaha," published by Caxton Press, is a book that any person with even the most fleeting interest in American history will find very enjoyable.
The 300-page book is divided into 22 chapters, and in a technique reminiscent of what John Dos Passos did in the "USA Trilogy," Bristow includes excerpts from actual newspaper stories to make the historical context more real. Chapters from this work have been included in "Nebraska Life" magazine, with several more forthcoming.
Bristow grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa. He is formally trained in neither creative writing nor history, but instead holds degrees in psychology. Bristow does not embrace the role of historian in a traditional sense, but rather picks and chooses stories that illuminate different dimensions of Omaha history in an interesting way.
He wrote to me in an e-mail from his Omaha home, "My goal was to tell a limited number of true stories, writing each so that it would read like fiction." Instead of writing a comprehensive history, Bristow was free to use his own criteria to select which tales he relates. He tells me, "I chose the stories I did because each has some universal human quality about it--humor, tragedy, love, hatred, hope, injustice, stupidity--and often all of them mixed in together. That's really why any storyteller chooses his or her subject matter."
The book opens with what can be considered as Omaha's first day. In 1854, a hasty Independence Day picnic was broken up by what appeared to be a hostile band of Indians. The early chapters of the book fill in details about Omaha's settlement and its struggle to attain viability as a community.
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Format: Paperback
The author has taken the best stories from old histories and newspaper accounts, and created a rollicking picture of a frontier town growing up. He documents his sources, and has captured twenty two episodes in early Omaha history, from the founding of Omaha City in 1854 to the Trans-Mississippi & International Exposition and Indian Congress of 1898. It is all told in a highly readable style, with a cast of characters ranging from gamblers and prostitutes to national figures such as George Frances Train, Buffalo Bill Cody,and Ponca Chief Standing Bear. This book will stand as a classic account of Omaha history.
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Format: Paperback
The book starts out with a dead-on description of the Rockbrook area and proceeds to the Old Market and South Omaha.A must read if you want the real truth on Jeese Lowe; John Pershing;James Freemont and others whose names most of us know only from building,town,and street names.They were indeed a wicked bunch of wild west --- well since they wrote the laws I can't really call them outlaws now can I?

A great book--the description of 'Rock Brooke Farm' will either make you cry for what has been lost or make you cheer progess depending on your P.O.V.
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Format: Paperback
This book is facinating and everyone who lives in Omaha should be aware of what truly founded our fair city. Omaha has certainly risen above the wickedness of our early history and is a model for many other cities. After living in Omaha for more than half of my life I can say that it stands above the others I have lived in which include the upper midwest, the southeastern coast and Los Angeles. The stories that David Bristow told left me wanting him to continue into the 20th century further than he did. My family for example was a very successful set of bootleggers to Kansas and Missouri. I know there were many other interesting characters in Omaha's history. Come on David....bring us up to now.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just moved to Omaha. This fun but factual read helped me feel connected to the place. History written in the way Mr. Bristow writes it makes it so much more fun and way more memorable. Every town has their own sorted "wicked" history why shouldn't Omaha! It sure is a great town now!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book mainly because I lived in Omaha from my birth to age 28. It was interesting to know where some of the street names came from and also to know the background of the names of some buildings and museums and bridges. I had no idea that Omaha had such a storied history and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It has been shared among many of my family members. I ordered this book from Amazon because after receiving mine as a loaner I wanted to be able to send it on to others.
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Format: Paperback
When I was thirteen I went to Joslyn Museum with my grandfather. We looked at photos of downtown Omaha at the turn of the 19th/20th century. He told me about the tunnels running from the municipal building to the whorehouses. I was amazed that he would know something like that! It turns out EVERYBODY knew!

A Dirty, Wicked Town is a great read. As with any good work of historical research it's not always complimentary. It presents Omaha's dreams and aspirations along with its nasty bits...
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I am now reading this book and enjoying it a lot. Learning lots about Omaha area. Till recently I lived in Bellevue mentioned in the book. Now living across Missouri river in Iowa and go to Council Bluffs frequently. It is in the book also
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