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The Resource The last sheriff in Texas : a true tale of violence and the vote, James P. McCollom

The last sheriff in Texas : a true tale of violence and the vote, James P. McCollom

Label
The last sheriff in Texas : a true tale of violence and the vote
Title
The last sheriff in Texas
Title remainder
a true tale of violence and the vote
Statement of responsibility
James P. McCollom
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
Beeville, Texas, was the most American of small towns -- the place that GIs had fantasized about while fighting through the ruins of Europe, a place of good schools, clean streets, and churches. Old West justice ruled, as evidenced by a 1947 shootout when outlaws surprised popular sheriff Vail Ennis at a gas station and shot him five times, point-blank, in the belly. Ennis managed to draw his gun and put three bullets in each assailant; he reloaded and shot them three times more. Time magazine's full-page article on the shooting was seen by some as a referendum on law enforcement owing to the sheriff's extreme violence, but supportive telegrams from all across America poured into Beeville's tiny post office. Yet when a second violent incident threw Ennis into the crosshairs of public opinion once again, the uprising was orchestrated by an unlikely figure: his close friend and Beeville's favorite son, Johnny Barnhart. Barnhart confronted Ennis in the election of 1952: a landmark standoff between old Texas, with its culture of cowboy bravery and violence, and urban Texas, with its lawyers, oil institutions, and a growing Mexican population. The town would never be the same again. The Last Sheriff in Texas is a riveting narrative about the postwar American landscape, an era grappling with the same issues we continue to face today. Debate over excessive force in law enforcement, Anglo-Mexican relations, gun control, the influence of the media, urban-rural conflict, the power of the oil industry, mistrust of politicians and the political process -- all have surprising historical precedence in the story of Vail Ennis and Johnny Barnhart
Review
  • A love of local history marks this tale from McCollom (The Continental Affair) about a 1952 sheriff’s election, and this love of local history proves to be his book’s most redeeming aspect. The account opens with a 1947 shoot-out at a gas station in McCollom’s hometown, Beeville, Tex. The eponymous sheriff, Vail Ennis, had already killed five men in his career. That day he killed two more, but not before taking five bullets that nearly killed him. It’s a lot of drama, but McCollom never really fits it into a larger narrative. Instead, he moves on to introduce more Beeville residents, focusing on Johnny Barnhart, a young lawyer with an interest in politics. The story meanders through some interesting incidents that took place over several years in the wake of the shooting, most of which focus on Barnhart’s burgeoning career. In 1952, Ennis killed a Latino prisoner, exposing longstanding ethnic and racial tensions in Beeville. Barnhart, concerned with such rough justice, formed the Christian Citizens Group to oust Ennis in the next sheriff’s election. Throughout, McCollom tosses in references to national and international matters but fails to tie them to Beeville, missing the chance for insightful commentary on the intersections of race, power, and politics. Agent: Robin Straus, Robin Straus Agency. (Nov.) --Staff (Reviewed 09/11/2017) (Publishers Weekly, vol 264, issue 37, p)
  • A true-crime story centering on a South Texas lawman who became a law unto himself.Local county sheriffs don't often make the national news unless they've been pardoned by the nation's chief executive for crimes committed in office. An exception was Bee County, Texas, roughly midway between Corpus Christi and San Antonio, where in the late 1940s and early '50s a latter-day Wyatt Earp named Vail Ennis ruled with a gun and attracted plenty of press. In a story whose mood matches John Sayles' melancholic film Lone Star, native son McCollom (The Continental Affair: The Rise and Fall of the Continental Illinois Bank, 1987), after a career as an international banker, comes back to home ground to recount Ennis' career. The author opens on a note that might well have been a closing, when, in November 1947, Ennis shot two grifters dead—after one of them shot him five times. "He turned around to me and said Houston you better get me to a doctor quick," said an eyewitness. "I'm dyin'." Improbably, Ennis did not die, but the lead in his system didn't improve his mood. McCollom contrasts Ennis' old-fashioned law-keeping, as mean as Roy Bean's but without the eccentricity, with the needs of a modernizing Texas, which brought his rule to an end following an electoral uprising by a mostly Hispanic population that had not turned out before, even after suffering the sheriff's racist attentions. Ennis, who had taken care to put notches on his gun for each kill and who engaged in plenty of intimidation to keep those voters away from the polls, said that if the county didn't want him, he didn't want it, adding that "the results of the election convinces [sic] me that people are more interested in politics than in law enforcement." Of interest to students of Texas history as well as aspiring law enforcement officers, who should read it as an example of how not to conduct themselves.(Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2017)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10603522
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
McCollom, James P
Dewey number
976.4/117
Index
no index present
Literary form
non fiction
Nature of contents
bibliography
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Ennis, Vail
  • Sheriffs
  • Police misconduct
  • Elections
  • Beeville (Tex.)
  • Beeville (Tex.)
  • Beeville (Tex.)
  • BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Law Enforcement
  • HISTORY / United States / 20th Century
  • HISTORY / United States / State & Local / Southwest (AZ, NM, OK, TX)
http://bibfra.me/vocab/lite/titleRemainder
a true tale of violence and the vote
Label
The last sheriff in Texas : a true tale of violence and the vote, James P. McCollom
Instantiates
Publication
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
ocn999673748
Dimensions
24 cm
Extent
260 pages
Isbn
9781619029965
Lccn
2017024770
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)999673748
Label
The last sheriff in Texas : a true tale of violence and the vote, James P. McCollom
Publication
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
ocn999673748
Dimensions
24 cm
Extent
260 pages
Isbn
9781619029965
Lccn
2017024770
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)999673748

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