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December 22 , 2009

Castle Garden


He had arrived in America in 1887, but we first met him in 1906 when it seemed he may be approaching the end of his story, for he has been arrested for killing the ex-governor of Idaho, a murder which led to one of the most celebrated trials of the period. The men questioning him want him to implicate Big Bill Haywood, leader of the IWW and the Western Federation of Miners. Wanting to save himself, he tells the detectives stories they want to hear. He also tells stories he wants us to hear. They are not always the same, but they are all true stories of the American West. His subsequent experiences, as he flees further west, pursued by Pinkerton detectives, provide a story of violence and class conflict found neither in the Wild West Show, nor in the dime novels. He finds himself increasingly entangled in an American West which is dangerously too real, and a fate which has led him to a cold prison cell and the threat of the gallows.

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