DALTONS! THE RAID ON COFFEYVILLE, KANSAS
by Robert Barr Smith (University of Oklahoma Press, 237 pages, $24.95). Smith’s account of the infamous Dalton gang’s October 5, 1892 attempt to rob two Coffeyville, Kansas, banks simultaneously breaks with tradition by focusing on the small town’s defenders. He notes that the legacy of these outlaw gang members–Gratton, Bob, and Emmett Dalton; Bill Powers; and Dick Broadwell–has been mythicized by popular histories and films, and their reputations have inappropriately evolved into those of folk heroes. Smith’s new examination of the Coffeyville raid, which has been remembered largely for its sheer audacity and daring, portrays the gang members simply as hoodlums who preferred theft to honest work, not as the Robin Hood-like figures of legend, and puts the emphasis on the heroic efforts of the ordinary citizens who fought and, in four cases, died to stop them.