Friday, May 3, 2024

My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On Wild West Bank Robbers, A Notorious Traitor, And A Movie Star & Her Gangster Lover

The Washington Times ran my On Crime column on three historical true crime books. 

You can read the column via the below link or the below text:

BOOK REVIEWS: 'The Last Outlaws,' 'God Save Benedict Arnold' and 'A Murder in Hollywood' - Washington Times


I’ve recently read and enjoyed three interesting historical true crime books. They cover Wild West bank robbers, a notorious traitor, a movie star and her gangster boyfriend.


Tom Clavin has written excellent books about Texas Rangers, Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson, all of which I’ve covered here. His latest book, “The Last Outlaws: The Desperate Final Days of the Dalton Gang,” is about three of the four Dalton brothers and their gang, who began stealing horses and graduated to robbing banks and trains.


The Dalton Gang is most famous for the simultaneous 1892 robberies of two banks in broad daylight in Coffeyville, Kansas. The gang, consisting of “Grat,” Bob and Emmett Dalton, Bill Power and Dick Broadwell, was recognized by the townspeople, who armed themselves and began a shootout with the notorious outlaws as they left the banks. The epic gunfight left eight men dead, including four of the five members of the Dalton Gang.


Mr. Clavin, a fine Wild West historian, writes of the connection and rivalry between the infamous James Gang and the Dalton Gang and the relentless pursuit of the Dalton Gang by Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Tilghman and other lawmen.


There is perhaps no villain more despicable in American history than Benedict Arnold, who betrayed Gen. George Washington and went over to the British in the Revolutionary War. As Jack Kelly notes in his outstanding book about the traitor, “God Save Benedict Arnold: The True Story of America’s Most Hated Man,” Arnold was a brilliant soldier in Washington’s Colonial Army, leading victories at Fort Ticonderoga, Quebec and Saratoga.


Mr. Kelly describes the battles well and depicts Arnold as a fearless military officer and leader. He covers the life story of Arnold (1741-1801), describing his life as the son of a merchant trader and background as a merchant, trader and commercial sea captain prior to joining the Continental Army.

One can almost sympathize with Arnold when reading about how poorly the Continental Congress treated the bold and severely wounded soldier and how others took credit for his military successes. Mr. Kelly tells us that Arnold had a special relationship with George Washington, who was impressed with Arnold as a soldier. The general and future president was deeply hurt when Arnold defected to the British.


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