Bullets, Badges, and Bridles: Horse Thieves and the Societies That Pursued Them

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This informative, well-written account of perhaps some lesser-known communities in history, Bullets, Badges, and Bridles: Horse Thieves and the Societies that Pursued Them, by John Burchill, chronicles the rise and fall of horse thieves, along with the parallel history of the societies who organized to combat such theft.

In America, from the Colonial era through the early twentieth century, the horse was central to economics and, often, to survival. The loss of a horse counted among one of the most devastating losses possible. Thieves were clever, dyeing horses and tapping telegraph lines, and law enforcement, owing to communication and jurisdiction issues, was often ineffective at combating these early examples of organized crime. Thus the self-reliant American attitude rose in the form of societies that pursued horse thieves. While these societies were devoted to justice, they could also descend into vigilantism, harming more than helping.

Bullets, Badges, and Bridles is both interesting and informative. The extra bits in the later chapters, pertaining to specific horse thieves, were especially engaging. The well-chosen quote regarding Dirty Dave Rudabaugh “being so adverse to soap that his ‘signature odor-somehow offended even gunslingers of the West in the late 1800s’” painted a particularly vivid picture.


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Author John Burchill
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 216 pages
Publisher Pelican Publishing
Publish Date 2013-Oct-31
ISBN 9781455618576
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2014
Category History
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