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Cold Lead: the life, times and death of 1890's kill Tom Blanck

By: Dugan, Mark
ISBN: 0-88839-559-0
Binding: Trade Paper
Size: 8.5" X 5.5"
Pages: 176
Photos: 18
Illustrations: 24
Publication Date: 2004

PR Highlights: Washington State, a little New York in the 1890s
PHOTO Highlights: 4 maps, 19 illustrations & b/w photos

Description: Biography of Thomas Blanck who was one of America's most dangerous gunmen. The book portrays the western gunslinger as he really was, a psychopathic killer. Blanck was not the romanticized, stereotypical gunman of the Old West. He was an extremely dangerous, remorseless, antisocial, psychopathic killer. And yet, when he was caught and put on trial, he actually gained the idolization bestowed upon the fictionalized desperadoes of western movies. While Blanck had none of the redeeming qualities portrayed by Hollywood's gunslingers, his life story is just as dramatic as any celluloid scenario. The first part of the story begins with a brief look at Blanck's childhood in New York and follows him as he makes his way to the Pacific Northwest and takes a few lives in the process. The second part describes his capture and subsequent trial for first-degree murder. The third part of the story focuses on his escape and the ensuing manhunt. Part four depicts the final part of Blanck's life and death. Lastly, there is a psychological assessment of the cold-blooded killer. Thomas Blanck was said to be able to shoot the center out of a dime at thirty feet. But he was no romanticized, stereotypical gunman of the Old West. He was an extremely dangerous, antisocial, remorseless killer. And, yet, when Blanck was caught and put on trial, he actually gained the idolization bestowed upon the fictionalized desperadoes of western movies. While the young man had none of the redeeming qualities portrayed by Hollywood's gunslingers, his life story is just as dramatic as any celluloid scenario. Cold Lead: The Life, Times and Death of 1890s Killer Tom Blanck is a fascinating account of the life of one of America's most dangerous gunmen. But more than just a history of the man, the book presents the political, social and economic conditions that were present in the U.S. at that time, and the author puts forward various factors that may have contributed to the events that occurred-not only Blanck's actions, but also the resulting public reaction.
Blanck was a petty thief specializing in burglary and robbing saloons, and he would kill anyone, anytime, under any circumstances in order to carry out his deeds. The first part of the story begins by introducing readers to the man and takes a brief look at his childhood in New York. It follows the outlaw as he makes his way west to the Pacific Northwest and takes a few lives in the process. The second part describes his capture and subsequent trial for first-degree murder. In this section particularly, the book gives readers a closer look into the behavior and psychology of the killer through numerous newspaper accounts and quotes from people involved with the story at the time. The third part of the story focuses on his escape and the ensuing chase and capture, one of the greatest manhunts on record. Part four depicts the final part of Blanck's story-his death and burial, which isn't exactly straightforward. Lastly, there is a psychological assessment of the cold-blooded killer. The book also includes a foreword, preface, introduction, epilogue, endnotes, bibliography and index.

Author Biography:

Born and raised in Jackson County, Missouri, Mark Dugan has been studying and researching Western American history since he was a child. After living in Europe for a time and then studying at North Carolina State University, where he earned a couple of degrees in science, Mark began to write. Mark's objective as a writer is to produce historical books and articles that contain material that has not been previously researched or written. To date, he has had five publications, with other publishers, all having to do with Western history. He has taught post-secondary courses having to do with frontier life and history and has also worked in law enforcement in North Carolina. He is a member of the Western Outlaw and Lawmen Association, an organization devoted to that specific history. He currently lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina, where he works fulltime as a writer.

Book Reviews:

Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association Journal
Vol. XV, No. 2
Summer 2006
Reviewed By Roy B. Young


Mark Dugan, co-author with John Boessenecker of The Grey Fox, The True Story of Bill Miner, Last Rock of the Old-Time Bandits (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992) and other great books such as Knight of the Road, The Life of Highwayman Ham White (Athens, Ohio, Swallow Press, 1990), and Bandit Years, A gathering of Wolves (Santa Fe: Sunshine Press, 1987) has done it again with this highly interesting new book, Cold Lead. The little known title character, Tom Blanck, is virtually brought back from the dead in a book chock-full of photos, maps, and documents. Unfortunately there is only one known photo of Blanck and it had to be copied from a newspaper due to the unknown whereabouts of an original.
Dugan is a writer who cares about detail and has meticulously researched the life, times and death of this formerly remote character. Is it possible that 66,000 people viewed Blanck in death? Contemporary resources say that was the case. Blanck 'was said to be able to shoot the center out of a dime at thirty feet'. But Thomas Blanck was no romanticized, stereotypical gunman of the Old West. He was an extremely dangerous, antisocial, remorseless killer, And yet, when he was caught and put on trial, Blanck actually gained the idolization bestowed upon the fictionalized desperadoes of western movies. While he had none of the redeeming qualities portrayed by Hollywood's gunslingers, his life story is just as dramatic as any celluloid scenario. 'Cold Lead is a fascinating account of the short life of one of America's most dangerous gunmen. Written in an articulate manner, the book is comprehensive in its scope and author Mark Dugan has been thorough in his research. This book will be of great interest to those who delve into accounts of the western frontier, early American crime and history in general.'

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