Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review: “Ozark Gunfights and Other Notorious Events” by Larry Wood

General Information

This book is a collection of twenty-five short chapters (5-13 pages each) about various gunfights, outlaws, and crimes in the Ozark area (SW Missouri, NW Arkansas, NE Oklahoma, and SE Kansas). Each chapter is on a specific event or person. The book covers the period from post - Civil War (starting with “Wild Bill” Hickok’s shoot out in Springfield, MO, in 1865) to the mid-1930’s (with Bonnie & Clyde’s shoot out in Joplin, MO, 1933), and one chapter about a 1950’s crime. There are quite a few B&W pictures scattered throughout the book, including pictures from the time and contemporary pictures of areas, buildings, or graves as they look like today. The chapters are actually different magazine articles written by the author (but one was co-written by the author) for various Western magazines.

The Good

I enjoy this book for a couple of reasons, besides the obvious interest in the topic. First is that the chapters are fairly short and secondly, they are fairly straight to the point with details. This makes for an easy and fast read for each chapter. Since each chapter is a completely separate event/person, one can choose to read one chapter and not another if they choose to do so. 

The Bad

In some ways, I wish that there were more details, but with this being a collection of articles for magazines instead a continuously flowing book, some details had to be dropped.

Stuff of Interest for Gamers

There are some chapters that could work out for a tabletop Western era bank robberies, but generally they are pretty one sided or fairly small and would work for a solo or two person game only. Most of the more detailed bank robberies discussed take place in the 1890’s to 1920’s. While this is out of the period, as well as regionally, to what most people considered to be the “Wild West”, there were a lot of infamous gangs or outlaws that are associated with this area and period: the Daltons, the Doolin’s “Wild Bunch”, and Roy “Arkansas Tom” Daugherty for examples. 

In some of the very earlier issues of “Miniature Wargames”, there were articles about three of the events or outlaws covered in this book. If you are interested more into this, I highly encourage you to look up those magazine articles for more details on how to table top those events. I would consider writing something up, but I don’t want to plagiarize any of these articles, plus I am lacking the free time to take that task to hand.

Miniature Wargames” Issue #41 covers the Dalton’s raid on the Coffeyville, KS, banks. Issue #42 covers the Doolin’s “Wild Bunch” hold-up in Ingalls, OK. Issue #46 covers the Doolin’s “Wild Bunch” robbery of a bank in Southwest City, MO.

Wargames Illustrated Issue number 127 also covers the Dalton’s raid at Coffeyville, KS.

Next Review

It is back to the islands with “Nine Battles to Stanley” by Nicolas van der Bijl. I decided to read this book for two reasons. First, I read his book on the British army in Northern Ireland and enjoyed it. Secondly, he was the sole Intelligence staff officer for the 3 Commando Brigade on the liberating of the Falklands in 1982. I figured with his background as an intelligence officer, he should be able to provide some good insight into the operations done by 3 Commando Bde and the Falklands as a hold. I plan to read Thompson’s “No Picnic” immediately after this one, since Thompson was the commander of 3 Commando Bde.

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