In October 1862 a vigilante court in Gainesville, Texas condemned 42 men to hang due to suspected participation in a Union plot. This sparked a cycle of violence and vigilantism that would haunt the North Texas region long after the end of the Civil War. Tainted Breeze by Richard B. McCaslin is a systematic treatment of the Great Hanging. It chronicles the events leading up to the hanging, the hanging itself, and the aftermath. I moved to the Gainesville area during the summer before my freshman year of high school, so this book had an added interest for me. Oddly enough, I never heard anything about the Great Hanging while living in Gainesville. It was only after I had gone off to college that I heard of these events, and only now that I have actually taken the time to learn about them. McCaslin’s book certainly satisfied my curiosity.
Tainted Breeze deals with an interesting subject very thoroughly. That said, it suffers from the dryness and dullness that often plague academic histories. Popular histories are usually more interesting but less thorough, while academic histories sacrifice interest for thoroughness. It is the rare historian that can accomplish both. Unfortunately, McCaslin is not one of those historians. Parts of the book are very interesting, but others drag on painfully. If you are interested in Civil War history or the North Texas region, this book is worth reading. If you are only mildly interested, this book is too dry to hold your interest.
Programming note– I will be on vacation for the next week, so there will be no new blog posts for a while. I will be reading during vacation, but I won’t be posting reviews until I get back.
The Current Count:
43 Read, 57 To Go