Reading about the history of executions in the wild west is gruesome, I know. And I’m not going to lie and say that if this book were just about the wild west I would have still read it. No, the truth is that the wild west was a savage place were it was kill or be killed and the favorite past time for many gunslinger’s and none gunslinger’s alike – besides gambling, visiting the brothels, and drinking – was gun fighting, and that is what drew me in and made me want to read this book. Although many of the unfortunate souls that are featured in Frontier Justice of the Wild West didn’t live lifestyle that we have grown to know and love from Hollywood – no rogue law men like Wyatt Earp, or men avenging the senseless slaughter of a loved one – the book was wildly fascinating none-the-less.

Being a history buff, what I most yearned for when I started reading Frontier Justice of the Wild West was the history of capital punishment in the west, but also the background of the men and women (yes, some women were executed) who swung from the gallows. One such gruesome detail was how a man was hanged. If a noose was placed behind the right ear and the execution was carried out in that manner, a man was more likely to be strangled rather than having his neck broke as would be the case if the noose was placed behind the left ear. Also, I was always under the impression that all gallows were constructed the same – a trap door that opened and through which the prison fell through. Not so. In facts, in my home town of Denver, the local justice of the peace used what was known as the “twitch-up” method. Here a man stood firmly on the ground with the rope rising some twenty feet over his head, then through a pulley and finally at the end a large counter weight was attached. When the counter-weight was dropped, the prisoner was jerked upward. This was also sometimes refered to as the “jerk to Jesus.”

Like I said, gruesome, but the sad fact about our history – or really any history, for that matter – is that there are always those who broke the law and therefore needed to be punished. Like the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the Revolutionary War, blood shed is a part of our history and shapes who we are, and as being a part of history it needs to be studied and learned from and if that is what you are looking for Frontier Justice in the Wild West delivers.

Ratings (out of 5):

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