December 13, 2009

Alias Soapy Smith book review

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I just finished Jeff Smith's book about his Great-Grandfather "Soapy." This book will have a special place in my 700+ library. Except for a few instances where he starts a paragraph with "this author believes...." every part is footnoted with the exact source. One of the best researched and documented "Old west" books in my collection. With due respect to great authors and researchers like Mr. DeArment (Knights of the green cloth....), who didn't have the internet available when writing and had to go to archives, courthouses and libraries, Jeff’s book shows that in the electronic age a wealth of information is out there, if an author is willing to spend 1000s of hours to research. Too many books out there are full of half truth and outright fabrications or just errors. Of course in this case there is also the huge collection of family documents that Jeff owns or has access to. I have been reenacting and collecting "old west" for 35 years, even built my own western town complete with a Tivoli Club ( but am humbled and realized that my research has not even scratched the surface. The book is spellbinding from first to last page, but with 600 pages took me almost a week to read. A must read, not only for people interested in "Soapy" but also a wealth of information about saloons, gambling, prostitution, bunco steering and city politics in the late 1800s.

Congratulations to Jeff, his 20+ years spent on writing and researching for this book have handsomely paid off--for us the readers.

~Peter Menyhart


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Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith