"The definitive history of the attempted murder of Harry S. Truman.... Truman's near-killing is a good subject for many reasons, including its disappearance into the black hole of our amnesia.... Hooked, the reader begins a journey that weaves...across the lives of all protagonists, pulled by fate toward the bloody confrontation."
Ted Windmer, The Washington Post
"Extensively researched and mellifluously told...American Gunfight is a splendid read."
Carl Schoettler, Baltimore Sun
"Hunter and Bainbridge's handling of the recorded events is not only convincing but compelling."
"A day worth remembering. American Gunfight is well worth reading."
The Washington Post
"A fast-paced thriller."
Alonzo Hamby, The Wall Street Journal
The definitive history of this attempted murder has now been written by Stephen Hunter and John Bainbridge Jr. True to their topic, theirs is an unlikely conspiracy: Hunter is a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for this newspaper and Bainbridge a journalist and former legal writer in Baltimore. It's a bit unclear what drew them to each other or to this topic, but they attack it with verve.
The Washington Post
On November 1, 1950, two Puerto Rican nationalists, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, engaged in a sustained gun battle with Secret Service agents at Blair House. Their goal was to assassinate President Harry Truman. It's curious that the two men haven't found a place in popular memory like other presidential assailants. But this attempt deserves attention because it was explicitly political and because it permanently altered Secret Service practices. Hunter, esteemed for his film criticism and macho adventure novels, teams up with former Baltimore Sun journalist Bainbridge for this richly detailed account of the motives and destinies of virtually everyone connected to the skirmish. This is an ambitious attempt to achieve time-lapse history. The actual confrontation took less than a minute; rather than save it up for the end, the authors spread it across much of the book, interspersed with background material on the participants. The book reads like the product of a film lover/action novelist and a journalist rather than a work of history, with the shootout described in stream-of-consciousness, and melodramatic, cliff-hanging chapter endings. To the authors' credit, though, interpretations are presented as such, and their handling of the recorded events is not only convincing but compelling. Agent, Esther Newberg. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Novelist/film critic Hunter, along with Baltimore Sun journalist Bainbridge, brings cinematic flair to this investigation of the 1950 attempt by Puerto Rican nationalists to assassinate Truman. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Journalists Hunter and Bainbridge reconstruct an attempt on Harry Truman's life, an event that "was of course gigantic news-for about a week."The principal actors in the November 1950 attempt were two Puerto Rican nationalists, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, devotees of a lawyer-revolutionary named Pedro Albizu Campos. The extent of their connection to Campos was not known until long after the attack, yet the operative principle was simple: If any attempt were made on Campos's life in Puerto Rico, then cells would activate in the U.S. and kill Truman. The witness may not have been entirely reliable, and in all events of the assassination effort, there was a certain amount of dumb luck: Truman was staying across the street from the White House, which was being renovated, a fact that a helpful cab driver had to point out to Collazo and Torresola; Collazo had few qualifications apart from a commitment to the cause; much of the attack was concocted on the spot. Yet Torresola was able to shoot several guards and get within ten yards of Truman before being taken down. It all makes for an intrinsically interesting story, but the authors tend to tell everything they can about any particular point of play, layering on incidental details about the lives of D.C. cops and expounding on the history and geography of Puerto Rico while drifting much too often into breathless Dragnet-speak: "The president is in the window he is thirty feet from Griselio who stands unnoticed at the stairway to Lee House the men on the other side haven't noticed him yet he's shot at three men and downed them all the president is thirty feet away and he has a straight line-of-sight picture to that window and therestands the president of the United States so he is very much in the kill zone."Those with patience for run-on sentences may enjoy this long footnote to history.