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Give a Boy a Gun: The True Story of Law and Disorder in the American West
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Give a Boy a Gun: The True Story of Law and Disorder in the American West

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  163 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Claude Dallas Jr. was raised in Upper Michigan and Ohio by a father whose philosophy was "give a boy a gun and you're makin' a man." After high school, the young man went to the rugged border area of Idaho, Oregon and Nevada and worked as a cow-puncher and handyman on several ranches. But his dream was evidently to become a 19th century style mountain man and so he turned ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 1st 1986 by Dell (first published 1985)
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Community Reviews

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Cody VC
Oct 17, 2012 Cody VC rated it liked it
as a rule i try to stay away from "true crime" books because there's usually an icky titillating element to them, but i picked this up as a free book from the library years ago (most likely because of the cover design) and was in search of something to read before bed. it's clear pretty early on that this is more fairly classed as journalism rather than tabloid (non-)fiction, due to an emphasis on documentary research and interviews, and that helped keep me reading. there is a discernible bias i ...more
An interesting story that takes place in my neck of the woods, more or less. This is an engaging account of Claude Dallas's murder of two Idaho Fish and Game officers in the early 1980s, his time on the run, and his trial. As an attorney, the trial and sentencing is particularly interesting. Assuming that Olsen's account is more or less accurate, the Dallas trial is a sobering example of the flaws in our legal system, including the risks associated with a trial by one's "peers." Moreover, the de ...more
Jan 11, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it
I don't usually review true crime books on Goodreads, but this one was exceptional. It shows that in the West, around the nexus of eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, and northern Nevada there still is a wild west. A complete sociopath wantonly murders two Fish and Game officers who are going to cite him for poaching and illegal trapping. But, as sociopaths often are, he's so demure and charming on the stand that he develops a coterie of groupies and is able to charm most of the courtroom and most o ...more
Jan 06, 2016 Carrie added it
Shelves: kindle
This was a highly readable book about the story of Claude Dallas, the culture of guns, hunting, and trapping in the rural American west, and the failings of our criminal justice system.

The author is a compelling storyteller, so the actual storyline about Claude Dallas's life, the murders, and the trial is easy to read and engaging. Additionally, the author interviewed so many people and painted such a vivid picture of the actors involved in the case that I felt as if I had a real glimpse of the
Aug 25, 2010 Mel rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fic, history
I found this book very interesting to read. Granted, the information about the murders was based on the account of Jim Stevens who eye-witnessed the account. With this in mind, one must remember that all accounts mentioned are from actual people and the information provided may not be wholly reliable. Regardless, I felt drawn into the story and felt it believable. As someone who has lived and/or visited almost all the places mentioned in the book where Dallas either hid or lived himself, I felt ...more
Dec 11, 2010 Eric rated it really liked it
Like true Crime? Read Jack Olsen. Olsen takes actual criminal cases, and develops them so that they read like an intense novel rather than a dry biography or court report. "Give a Boy A Gun" is the true case of Claude Dallas, Jr., the trapper who murdered two Idaho Fish and Game officers in 1982. I find particular interest in this story because 1) This happened in the corner of the world where I now live, and 2) I remember seeing this on the news when I was an adolescent. The most interesting, a ...more
Patrica Rickaby
Jan 23, 2016 Patrica Rickaby rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hero or Killer

The book was in need of much better proof reading( numbers in the middle of words, words split in parts and at times words were misplaced completely ). It was hard to believe this was written by Jack Olsen whose other books I have read and enjoyed. Other books by him I read quickly,learned from,enjoyed, and looked forward to reading more. This one took forever to read due to the many mistakes.
The friends of this "hero" should have had legal charges against them for aiding and abett
Sep 25, 2008 Ter rated it it was amazing
Where do I begin? My parents read this book quite a few years ago and recommended it to me. I’ve been looking everywhere for it since it’s out of print. They actually new some people at the time that they read it who actually thought this Claude Dallas was some kind of hero or something. I personally think he was a cold blooded, calculated murderer. He should have been sentenced to death, and at the very least sentenced to life in prison. It’s worth the read. I definitely recommend it.
Feb 02, 2013 patricia rated it really liked it
An interesting non-fiction read. Reminiscent of a Zane Grey novel. This was an event in the 1970's that took place in Idaho, Oregon and Nevada. The story is incredible and leaves the reader with an OMG reaction. Recommend it for off the beaten path reading. Mr. Olsen has written other books that whet my interest.
Dave O'Brien
Jan 13, 2016 Dave O'Brien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible true story, well-written

One of the best true crime books I have ever read. Superbly researched and written to keep the tension up and the ending a surprise. A must-read for anyone interested in true crime and the modern American West.
Anthony Ambruso
Jan 17, 2016 Anthony Ambruso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frighteningly good story

But reading about this stuff leaves me sad for the victims and those who commit these crimes. Having served on jury myself, these stories leave me uneasy about a jury trial. They are a mess.
Sharon Lowry
Jan 17, 2015 Sharon Lowry rated it it was amazing
I have read this book three times now and still find it fascinating. I know a person who was involved in the shootout with Claude Dallas, so that makes it very real first person thing to me.
Cyd Taylor
Jan 15, 2016 Cyd Taylor rated it really liked it
not my favourite by this author and of course there's so much more to the story that hasn't been covered by this book now
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