Brett's Reviews > Give a Boy a Gun: A True Story of Law and Disorder in the American West

Give a Boy a Gun by Jack Olsen
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's review
Dec 28, 2011

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bookshelves: american-west, non-fiction, crime
Read from December 27, 2011 to January 01, 2012

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 debate over whether Dallas's actions were justified (a debate that continues today) is a reminder that this country--and the West in particular--is strangely diverse, particularly from ethical and intellectual perspectives. Here, on essentially undisputed facts, some folks see an instance of justifiable homicide while others see the premeditated murder of two law enforcement officers.

Jack Olsen is a solid writer, but the book could have used more aggressive editing. There are sections where he flogs the characters' backgrounds too heavily. But, overall, a good read.
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