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Noted author Gary L. Blackwood grew up intrigued by crime fighters. In Bad Guys, the two-time Smithsonian Notable Book Award winner takes a look at the "other side." A motley crew of villians, their chronicles are, indeed, fascinating. Yet, Blackwood goes far beyond storytelling. Placing the shenanigans of highwaymen, outlaws, swindlers, gangsters, and pirates against the backdrop of history, he considers them each in terms of the places and times in which the culprits operated. Were they evil cutthroats? Or, were they driven to their deeds out of desperation? In general, readers will find very few Robin Hoods. They will also discover that the reality of many of these men and women lies somewhere between utter scoundrel and social casualty.
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Grade 4-7-Blackwood serves up attention-getting biographical sketches of notorious and lesser-known "bad guys." Entries include Al Capone, Dick Turpin (the "Butcher Highwayman"), and Billy the Kid. Each title begins with an explanation of the cultural context in which the subjects lived and provides a basic background on their particular criminal activity. Biographical entries are brief (five-to-six pages), and discuss only the most intriguing aspects of the subjects' lives. In Highwaymen, Blackwood tells of one woman who swallowed her wedding ring rather than relinquish it during a robbery. Undeterred, William Cady killed her and cut her open to retrieve it. Vivid photographs, reproductions, and illustrations effectively complement the text. One photo in Outlaws shows victims of the Northfield raid. The Younger brothers and other outlaws are eerily presented sitting upright with open eyes and bleeding bullet wounds. The author makes no attempt to psychoanalyze or speculate as to what led these people to pursue lives of crime; he sticks to the facts and colorful details, rendering simultaneously entertaining and informative reading.
Laura Glaser, Euless Junior High School, TX
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Reviewed with Gary L. Blackwood's Swindlers.
Gr. 5-8. Blackwood, whose novels include Shakespeare's Scribe (2000), turns to nonfiction in these books from the Bad Guys series. Highwaymen discusses the romantic legends and sordid facts of the highway robbery trade. The book spotlights colorful figures such as Mary Frith (Moll Cutpurse) and William Nevison (the Yorkshire Rogue), as well as other English robbers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. One notable French highwayman is covered, and the book ends with an American, Joseph Hare. Swindlers traces the concept of cheating to the biblical story of Jacob and Esau but focuses on historical personages such as William Henry Ireland, an English forger of Shakespearean plays; Soapy Smith, a con artist of the American West; and Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil, a swindler on a grand scale. Well written and well designed, both books are illustrated with reproductions of period artwork, documents, and photographs. Appended are source notes, glossaries, bibliographies, and lists of Web sites, as well as short lists of nonfiction and fiction books. Carolyn Phelan
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Book Description Benchmark Books (NY), 2001. Library Binding. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0761410171
Book Description Cavendish Square Publishing, 2001. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0761410171
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Book Description Cavendish Square Publishing, 2001. Library Binding. Condition: New. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 0761410171n