- File Size: 1725 KB
- Print Length: 292 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: The Write Thought (May 29, 2012)
- Publication Date: May 29, 2012
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0087HC8YE
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,566 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Digital List Price:||$3.99|
|Print List Price:||$15.95|
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Hatchet Men: The Story of the Tong Wars in San Francisco’s Chinatown Kindle Edition
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As the Tongs developed and gained influence, they mutated into criminal organizations, shielding a series of rackets that included operating drug emporia and opium dens, houses of prostitution and "black hand" style protection rackets. These rackets almost exclusively victimized the Chinese residents themselves, but the violence associated with them occasionally spilled over into the larger community around the city's Chinatown, particularly during the Tong Wars that didn't end until around the time of the great earthquake in 1906.
In fact, the most audacious criminals in San Francisco's Chinatown were actually the white "Californians" who preyed on the Chinese and forced them to operate inside their limited enclave. Organized gangs of bullies such as the infamous Sydney Ducks targeted the Chinese and made their lives in the city hell, brutalizing and torturing citizens with impunity, stealing their valuables and disrupting their businesses. The Chinese turned to the Tongs for protection because there was literally nowhere else to go: the laws were deliberately written to their disadvantage and the city police were deeply corrupt and manifestly racist, in some cases merely an adjunct to the mob.
Dillon's book captures the period from the Gold Rush through the Tong Wars of the early Twentieth Century in a clear and colorful manner. I bought this book -- like Walter Noble Burns' "Robin Hood of the El Dorado" and Ireneo Paz's "Life and Adventures of the Celebrated Bandit Joaquin Murrietta" -- for research purposes while working on my own Gold Rush western novels in the Amos Kuttner "Tamer" series, but I found reading it an adventure rather than a drudgery. The language is colorful, the characters fascinating and the book well-constructed. It concentrates on the Tongs themselves, but also paints a fascinating picture of San Francisco during its formative years.
It is a satisfying read on its own, and an absolute necessity for somebody seeking to understand the city's Underworld during perhaps its most colorful era.
-- William E. Wallace
I read this book for my research into San Francisco. I found it easy to read and very interesting. It wasn't just a sensational book on the tongs like some I've come across, but delved into the political and racial tensions festering in San Francisco, and reasons why the tongs flourished in the latter half of the 19th century. I also felt that the information was presented without prejudice, which I'm always conscious of when doing research since the newspaper archives of the time period are always rife with prejudice and agendas.
Edited from five to three stars. While this was super interesting, I found a number of errors after doing further research on at least two subjects. The Bubonic Plague and the death toll of SF. In the Hatchet Men, it says that the Bubonic Plague and subsequent quarantine of the Quarter was nothing but a scare and tells of an offer of 10,000 dollars to the Consul to remove the quarantine. While that did happen, the plague was very real, and lasted well after the 1906 earthquake.
It also lists the death toll of the earthquake as something around 500. That was once the belief. Now historians put the number at over 3,000, which considering the destruction seems much more accurate.
Now I'm questioning the rest of the information.