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20ogBook Reviews273 The narrative succeeds in showing that, while more than a few of the white officers involved in die Flipper case and trial were clearly racists, racism itself played litde ifany role in either the issuance ofthe charges against die young black officer or the decisions arrived at by the court-martial. In short, Robinson contends that while racism was rife in the late nineteendi-century U.S. Army, the Flipper case is not a good example of that phenomenon and, if anydiing, the attention it has attracted over die years has only "served to obscure" the "genuine cases of racism in the army of the period" (xvi). The author supports this assertion by frequendy comparing the Hipper affair with some of those "very real cases of racism" (11), most notably diat of the West Point cadetJohnson Whittaker. Extracts from the trial transcripts, which run to over 600 pages, take center stage in Robinson's account, but these are supported by ample references to alternative sources, such as memoirs, letters, and assorted official documents. This pithy volume may not be the last word on the Flipper controversy, but it has certainly thrown down the gauntlet to the aggrieved black officer's many defenders and clearly identifies die points they must challenge in order to prove the case for racial discrimination playing a determining role in the trail's outcome. Truman State UniversityJasonJ. McDonald From Guns to Gavels: HowJustice Grew Up in tL· Outlaw West. By Bill Neal. (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2008. Pp. 384. Preface, acknowledgments, photos, maps, chronology, chapter notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 9780896726376, $2g.g5 cloth.) Lawyer Bill Neal's second book, From Gum to Gavels: HowJustice Grew Up in tL· Outlaw West, is an effort to identify the historical timeframe when frontierjustice, as practiced in die wild and woolly West, transitioned to a legalistic ritual based on constitutions, statutes, precedents, and the assortment of other modern-day regulations that pass for orderly courtroom procedure. As an experienced trial lawyer, Neal makes a convincing case as to when and why this occurred, but he did not persuade thisjuror with his evidence as much as he did with his argument. Frontierjustice developed in the post-Civil War era when southerners, stripped of wealth, land, respect, and civility, went west and imposed a code of honor that redressed wrongs, real or perceived, through self-defense killings and public lynching . Politicians who held legislative andjudicial posts, as well as citizens who served on grand and petitjuries usually administeredjustice irrespective of die courts. It was not until the spectacular advancement in transportation and communication technologies after World War I that a sea change occurred in die public's oudook towards the administration ofjustice. These changes, coupled with a change in the manner newspapers covered vigilantejustice, imbued a change in die way the public viewed violence andjudicial integrity. Neal relies on "anecdotal [lessons] . . . about die origin, development, and the maturation of our criminaljustice system" to make his case (77). He employs two criminal trials with strikingly similar fact situations to advance his polemic, but these cases also had conspicuously different circumstances diat negate his argu- 274Southwestern Historical QuarterlyOctober ment. In both cases the defendants killed their victims in front of witnesses and then claimed self-defense. In neidier case was the modern notion ofself-defense— being in imminent danger of being killed—present, but the killers relied on die Old West code of defending their honor and protecting themselves against men who had publicly threatened their lives. In the first case, which occurred in 1913, a prominent landowner and rancher gunned down a well-known bad guy who was awaiting trial for killing his brother in cold blood. The killing occurred in a public washroom where the witnesses were preoccupied with other matters. The jury acquitted the popular cattleman. The second case, which went to trial in 1923, involved two suspected catde rusders who shot two lawmen in a hotel parlor in front of prominent individuals in the community, including ajudge, a sheriff, and the several attorneys.Juries convicted both men, despite their claim of self-defense. The basic facts were the same, but the situations were quite different. No one...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9560
Print ISSN
0038-478X
Pages
pp. 273-274
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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