This is a horror story of native American violence. It carries a grim lesson for the whole country. Political doctrines have played no part in the violence and murder that have brought much ill fame to one corner of Illinois. On the map, Williamson is just another county. But in history it is a place in which a strange disease has raged for more than eighty years—a disease marked by a pathological tendency to settle differences by force. Fascinated by this, Paul M. Angle, the well-known historian, set out to discover what really had happened. Through enormous research he has been able to reconstruct the whole story in all its horrible, scarifying detail. Using the best techniques of reportage, without editorializing, without subjective coloration, he has produced a narrative beyond imagination. It begins with the “Bloody Vendetta,” a feud that rampaged in the 1870s. It deals with labor’s success in organizing coal mines in southern Illinois, an affair that twice blew up in violence. It covers the Herrin Massacre of 1922—perhaps the most shocking episode in the history of organized labor in this country—and the subsequent trials. The Ku Klux Klan provides material for four chapters that come to a climax in a fatal duel between the Klan and its opponents. And it ends with the story of the gang war between Charlie Birger and the Shelton brothers. It is a tale to shake the most phlegmatic reader.
About Paul M. Angle
Paul McClelland Angle, is the well-known Lincoln historian and author of The Lincoln Reader (1947), “Here Have I Lived”—A History of Lincoln’s Springfield (1935), and, with Carl Sandburg, Mary Lincoln, Wife and Widow (1932), among other books. He was secretary… More about Paul M. Angle