Books
William B.Secrest

Behind San Quentin's Walls

San Quentin is one of the most famous prisons in American history, featured in countless movies and novels, yet few know its colorful early history. In Behind San Quentin’s Walls, noted Old West historian William B. Secrest reveals the beginning of San Quentin, from its unlikely start as a real estate scheme to its essential role in taming the lawless California of the Gold Rush era. Featuring numerous citations from contemporary accounts, plus period photos, illustrations, newspaper clippings, and maps, Behind San Quentin’s Walls chronicles the political calculations that created San Quentin; the outsize egos of the men who built it; the mismanagement and frequent escapes that marred San Quentin’s early years; and the notorious ruffians and cutthroats who were housed there. Filled with exciting true stories of gunfights, brawls, prison riots, daring escapes, and intrepid manhunts, Behind San Quentin’s Walls is a rip-roaring Wild West tale of how men and women with immense talent for both good and evil tamed a new state and each other.
667 printed pages
Original publication
2015

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