Cover for ANGLE: Bloody Williamson: A Chapter in American Lawlessness

Bloody Williamson

A Chapter in American Lawlessness

Williamson County in southern Illinois has been the scene of almost unparalleled violence, from the Bloody Vendetta between two families in the 1870s through the Herrin Massacre of 1922, Ku Klux Klan activities that ended in fatalities, and the gang war of the 1920s between the Charlie Birger and Shelton brothers gangs. Paul Angle was fascinated by this more-than-fifty-year history, and his account of this violence has become a classic.

"A wonderful book to help us understand these United States. . . . Here is documented yet enjoyable history outdoing 99% of our fiction."--Library Journal

"In Williamson County some men took to violence almost as a way of life. A shocking story, well told."--The New Yorker

"The author retells the story that Williamson residents would like to forget, because he sees localized there the moral, racial, economic, and religious conflicts common to American society; he points out that when passion displaces reason, and when there are venal public servants, plus a lack of respect for law, the result may be a Williamson county."--ALA Booklist

"Angle's story of Williamson County has justifiably been called a classic, and the University of Illinois Press deserves praise for reissuing it with the helpful introduction by Southern Illinois University historian John Y. Simon."--Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

"This small book is packed with historical details. . . . Citizens should read it for no other reason than to discover that such violence. . . can "happen"--and that it may not yet be quite finished."--Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology & Police Science

Paul M. Angle, author of The Lincoln Reader and, with Carl Sandburg, Mary Lincoln, Wife and Widow, was secretary of the Abraham Lincoln Association from 1925 to 1932 and librarian of the Illinois State Historical Library and Illinois State Historian from 1932 to 1945. He died in 1975. John Y. Simon, professor of history at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, is the editor of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant.

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