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Bandido pulls back the curtain on a life story shrouded in myth — a myth created by Vasquez himself and abetted by writers who saw a tale ripe for embellishment. Boessenecker traces his subject's life from his childhood in the seaside adobe village of Monterey, to his years as a young outlaw engaged in horse rustling and robbery. Two terms in San Quentin failed to tame Vasquez, and he instigated four bloody prison breaks that left twenty convicts dead. After his final release from prison, he led bandit raids throughout Central and Southern California. His dalliances with women were legion, and the last one led to his capture in the Hollywood Hills and his death on the gallows at the age of thirty-nine.
From dusty court records, forgotten memoirs, and moldering newspaper archives, Boessenecker draws a story of violence, banditry, and retribution on the early California frontier that is as accurate as it is colorful. Enhanced by numerous photographs — many published here for the first time — Bandido also addresses important issues of racism and social justice that remain relevant to this day.
Posted October 2, 2010
In Bandido John Boessencker brings to life the turbulent career of Tiburcio Vasquez who was the second most famous Mexican outlaw in US history after Joaquin Murrieta.
Vasquez began his career in Monterey ,California which was one of the most violent towns in California in the 1870's. There were gunfights, lynchings and outlaws riding through the town and it was here that Vasquez grew up.
He started his career by riding with legendary outlaws such as Juan Soto and eventually organized a gang of his own which varied as to who was available for a specific raid. His career finally came to an end when he raided the town of Tres Pinos near Hollister in San Benito County, Ca.
Vasquez was pursued by such famous lawmen as Harry Morse, sheriff of Alameda County and other noted lawmen. He was eventually captured in Los Angeles and hanged at San Jose in 1875. He is buried in the Mission Santa Clara cemetary.
Tiburcia Vasquez was a talented man who could read, write poetry and was an excellent dancer. He was a charming ladies man and fathered illegitimate children with many women including his own niece and had an affair with the wife of one of his gang members.
Boessenecker shows that Vasquez was not a social bandit but a typical displaced Californio who wanted vengeance against the Americans who had dispossed the Californios of their land.
Bandido is an exciting read and well researched. It reads like a novel and once started is difficult to put down. It is a must read if you want to learn about the turbulent history of early California and the social racial problems btween anglo and latino communities which exist today.
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Posted October 28, 2011