Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle for the Soul of America

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Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle for the Soul of America

Author: J. Anthony Lukas
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copyright: 1997
Pages: 880
Cover Price: $ 17.00

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Big Trouble brings to life the astonishing case that ultimately engaged President Theodore Roosevelt, Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and the politics and passions of an entire nation at century's turn. After Idaho's former governor is blown up by a bomb at his garden gate at Christmastime 1905, America's most celebrated detective, Pinkerton James McParland, takes over the investigation. His daringly executed plan to kidnap the radical union leader Big Bill Haywood from Colorado to stand trial in Idaho sets the stage for a memorable courtroom confrontation between the flamboyant prosecutor, progressive senator William Borah, and the young defender of the dispossessed, Clarence Darrow. Big Trouble captures the tumultuous first decade of the century, when capital and labor, particularly in the raw, acquisitive West, were pitted against each other in something close to class war. Lukas paints a vivid portrait of a time in which actress Ethel Barrymore, baseball star Walter Johnson and editor Wm Allen White jostled with railroad magnate E.H. Harriman, socialist Eugene V. Debs, gunslinger Charlie Siringo and Operative 21, the intrepid Pinkerton agent who infiltrated Darrow's defense team.

Background Information

Theodore Roosevelt was a progressive political leader, conservationist, war hero and adventurer. Oliver Wendell Holmes was the given name of two prominent Massachusetts men, the second of whom became a justice on the Supreme Court. The Pinkerton Agency was the first national detective agency, and worked for the Union side during the Civil War and primarily for business interests in later years. The Industrial Workers of America, also known as the Wobblies, strove to create one big union for all workers. Colorado is a state known for its mining, agriculture and skiing, located on the boundary between the prairies and the Rocky Mountains. Idaho was first part of the Oregon Territory, then the Washington Territory, and finally a state in its own right in 1890. Clarence Darrow was an attorney for the defense in several high profile cases including the Scopes Monkey Trial and also was an early leader in the American Civil Liberties Union. Eugene Victor Debs ran many times on the Socialist Party ticket for president of the United States, once while imprisoned for his opposition to World War I.