John Faragher is a noted historian, particularly regarding the American west. His biography of Daniel Boone is considered a seminal work. “Eternity Street: Violence and Justice in Frontier Los Angeles” may gain the same reputation.
This is the story of the wild west, in all its horror, set in L.A., well before the Dodge City stories came to be. California became a territory in 1848 because of U.S. military force against Mexico. It became a state two years later.
While Faragher takes us from 1780 or so to 1881, it is the period of the 1840s and 1870s that take up most of the examination.
No pulled punches here. Lynching, mob rule, murders, violent greed and discrimination of every kind mark the settlement of Los Angeles.
The Spanish had history here, the Mexicans called it part of their country, the native Americans were surrounded, the Californios (Californians of Mexican descent) wanted to rule, the Chinese were brought in to work and the Americans rolling west just knew L.A. was part of the American destiny.
Put all that together - or more correctly, place all of them as antagonists of one another in a land without a working legal framework or law enforcement - and you get the picture this book depicts.
Faragher’s story is not just about what happened in these years, but why did it occur and what created the environment for the worst of mankind to be front and center.
On one level, this is a great read to see a history of Los Angeles most of us have never experienced. On another level, the facts found in this work lead one to see how the under the surface violence and hatred of many can be released when circumstances permit.
Faragher says, “Violence is the dark force of our national history. ... We are a first-world nation with a third-world violence problem. ... Los Angeles, settled mainly by migrants from Mexico and the American South, plays an important part in this history.”
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” -John F. Kennedy
Gary Thorne is the play-by-play voice of the Orioles on MASN, and the 2018 season is his 12th with the club and 33nd covering Major League Baseball. His blog will appear regularly throughout the season. The Orioles and Sarasota County, for the 7th consecutive year, have partnered on the Big League Reader Program, which rewarded kids who read three books in February with tickets to a Grapefruit League game at Ed Smith Stadium in March. 180 children participated last year.
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