March 14, 2010

Book review: Alias Soapy Smith

The Seventeenth Street auction house
"The most expensive brass watches in town!"


I’ve just finished your marvelous book, Alias Soapy Smith, the ultimate authority on our great-grandfather, Jefferson Randolph (“Soapy”) Smith II.

Thank you for your herculean effort in sorting the wheat from the chaff, and fact from fancy contained in the many myths and accounts of his life. Throughout the book you dispel inaccuracies, exaggerations and downright falsehoods that have become accepted as fact.

I particularly enjoyed your extensive use of first-person accounts. The wealth of letters, documents, artifacts and family history available only to you, as well as the nearly countless period sources you consulted, guarantee that no other account of his life could be so complete.

It was obvious to me that you are willing to pursue the facts, wherever they lead. The book seems to be neither overly sympathetic nor unduly critical, but rather, fair, thorough and well-documented. As a former journalist and trial lawyer, I greatly appreciate and applaud your persistent “search for the truth.”

It was a delight to read about the many facets of the personality of this complex character, and the interesting places and times through which he traveled.

Since we were together in Skagway in 1998, the internet has greatly facilitated the collection of information, and importantly, provided a forum for descendants and others to stay in touch and grow our collective knowledge. I look forward to following your blog as you seek more nuggets of information about our colorful antecedent.

Jim Caraway
Your Cousin, and
A Great-Grandson of Soapy Smith

It doesn't get any nicer than that! Thank you Jim. Jim's grandfather was Soapy's son James.

I worried how members of my family would take the book. As another family member once said to me, "Our fathers worked hard to protect their family."


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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