GIVE A BOY A GUN: A True Story of Law and Disorder in the American West by Jack Olsen

GIVE A BOY A GUN: A True Story of Law and Disorder in the American West

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An exceptional essay by Olson (The Bridge at Chappaquidick) about the life of Claude Dallas, who several years ago murdered two Nevada game wardens, then eluded FBI agents and police for some 20 months, and was finally caught, tried, and found guilty only of voluntary manslaughter. The young Ohioan had drifted to Nevada, enamored of a cowboy's life. Soon, he had developed a devoted coterie of friends among the hard Western characters who gave their amity only after demonstrated qualities of honesty, hard work, and frankness. Dallas was seen by all as a gentleman, straight-shooter, and a loner by nature. But he wanted to be more than a cowboy; he wanted to be a mountain man, living by his wits, strength, and cunning in the wild. Only in this way did he see himself as being able to escape the purveyors of red tape in the modern world. This led him to a life of trapping animals in the mountains of Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada-both legally and illegally. It ultimately brought him to the confrontation over illegal trapping with the two game wardens he murdered (he insisted they drew on him first). Olsen narrates this unusual story with a disarming sympathy for all participants. He weaves into the tale the attitudes and reactions of Dallas' parents during the long manhunt and trial. This interweaving proves to be the most crucial part of the book, for through this lens we see how Claude's obsession with weaponry was an outgrowth of his macho father's attitudes. Others have already written about this unusual murder case, but none better than Olsen.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Delacorte