Sub-titled ""The Bandits, Stage Robbers, Outlaws and Stickup Men of California's Famous Gold Rush Days"" -- this is another facet of the California of a century ago and less presented by the scholarly book editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. His extensive research projects into various phases of California's colorful history have unearthed many sources of information on the bandits who ranged the routes leading from the gold fields, and made the passage of stage coaches a perilous one. The legends that have grown up around such names as Joaquin Murieta, Dick Fellows, Tom Bell, Rattlesnake Dick, Black Bart, and other lesser desperadoes are here explored, and fact sifted from fiction for what is probably a definitive study. Somehow -- perhaps inevitably- this approach makes for less dramatic reading than one expects from the title. Much of the material is familiar to those who have read Hungerford's Wells Fargo (see report P. 315) or Beebe and Clegg's U.S.West (P. 386) since the famous company played a vital part in combatting the depredations- though Mr. Jackson has handled the material in more sober and less florid fashion. He takes the story to the last of the Mexican bandits, Tiburcio Vasquez and the 70's and '80's which saw the end of organized stage robberies.