Searching for Joaquin
Myth, Murieta and History in California

Bruce Thornton

This fascinating, though-provoking and ground- breaking book has so very much to offer—enough history and myth to enthrall any Californian or any student of its chaotic early history—the great human influx and clash of cultures of the Gold Rush, the dastardly deeds of outlaw gangs, revenge for injustice, vigilantism, romance and passion, crooked politicians, shoot-outs between posses and their prey, and an ending worthy of a carnival sideshow.

If you don't know who Joaquin Murieta was, think of a cross between Zorro, Robin Hood, and Jesse James, but with the characters, both real and mythological, quintessentially Californian. The author is a professor of history at Fresno State University and a lifelong student of Murieta tales. Here are his opening words:

A good story needs no excuse for its telling, and the tale of Joaquin Murieta and his bottled head is first and foremost a good story, filled with drama, adventure and mystery--as were the times in which Joaquin lived. The years of the California Gold Rush are some of the most fascinating in American history.

The tale of Joaquin crystallizes that time of intense struggle and lightning change, a time of radical Darwinian individualism when people, untrammeled by social constraints, could create themselves through impassioned action or through the sheerest drudgery. The Gold Rush, and Joaquin himself, epitomize a vital aspect of the American character and identity.

But it is another theme that makes Joaquin's story so interesting to us moderns. Despite our claims to be rational people who can distinguish between myth and reality, we are still quite liable to confuse them. When it comes to past events especially, what gratifies our deepfelt wishes is too often substituted for what we can reasonably determine actually to have happened.

170 pages, 6" x 9", full-color dust jacket, index. Published by Encounter Books. ISBN 1- 893554-62-7  Cloth

Price: $999.00

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