Choose Your Weapon

Choose Your Weapon
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Product ID : 12-1508
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Choose Your Weapon: The Duel in California, 1847–1861 describes in graphic detail the major figures, causes, and means by which the Golden State’s 75 “affairs of honor” of that timeframe were fought. The number of shootouts between these “gentleman” was greater than that of any other state during those years. Because so many duels were fought over politics, the book reveals much about the major politicians and newspaper editors of that era.

In addition, there is a great deal of irony. For example, in 1850 Assemblyman George Penn Johnston crafted a bill that provided severe penalties for anyone convicted of dueling. Still, it remained impossible to empanel a jury that would convict a duelist. Eight years later this same legislator sent a challenge to a member of the State Senate, and, in the shootout that followed, killed him. Though found not guilty, he was the first duelist to be tried under the very statute he had written. New evidence also reveals there was far more paradox than previously imagined regarding the infamous duel between U.S. Senator David C. Broderick and State Supreme Court Justice David Terry.

One of the most grueling duels ever to take place on the frontier was the 1853 faceoff between U.S. SenatorWilliam Gwin and Congressman Joseph W. McCorckle. Fought in the hills above bucolic San Mateo with 54 caliber Mississippi Yagers at forty paces, by dint of several miracles neither was killed. In summary, Choose Your Weapon provides readers with an invaluable historical primer on California’s Golden Era, as well as the tumultuous temperament of its pioneer politicians and newspaper editors.

Audience: California history readers.
About the Author: Christopher Burchfield has been researching and writing about the Gold Rush Era of California for more than thirty years. Over this period he and his wife, Genendal, have traveled up and down the state, scouring its libraries and history centers, from Barstow to Yreka, often camping out under some very inclement weather conditions. He has had over 100 articles published in various magazines.

$16.95 ($21.95 Canada) • Trade Paperback • 6" x 9" •
260 pages
ISBN 978-1-61035-277-2

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