I Dreamt I Was in Heaven:The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
Today when we think of gangs our thoughts are of young punk kids who just don’t want to work or go to school so they can get a job and join the ranks of the working class. Just like the rest of us. Have we asked ourselves what is their motivation? Do we really know why they dress and act the way they do? Perhaps there is an underlying method to their madness that is inspired by this generation that we can’t see, or chose not to see.
Gaiter brings to life a historical novel of the old west. But not the old west we are used to reading about. This old west incorporates a young gang of teens who are a mixed breed, some black and Creek Indian. There cause is not much different than our youth of today. Economic challenges in the old west are reminiscent of today.
The opening pages of this wonderful novel show a crowd of frightened people scarred by prejudice and ready to kill those they are terrified by:
As the wagon neared, the crowd saw the shackles. With the sight of that constraining metal their courage exploded. Shouts echoed off the buildings. Faces instantly deformed with rage and hatred. Spittle flew and dripped on chins with each more violent oath. With the prisoners bound, the tables were turned and the Buck Gang were their victims now.
Then they saw the young faces. A fleeting lull descended. These were not the hardened men, the dime novel villains they all expected. These were boys, none of them out of his teens. They had been terrorized – made to question their rights as men – by children. The crowd exploded.
Gaiter brings life back into the old west and how things really were. During the rein of hanging judge Isaac C. Parker, a mixed breed himself, attempts to maintain the law. This proved to be difficult since large portions of Indian land housed criminals, murders, rapists and other notorious bandits not unlike the Rufus Buck Gang. Many longed to take from others leaving behind a trail of broken dreams and a crime filled legacy. The late 1890’s were a difficult time for Native Americans. Their land was being taken over by the U.S. Government and most were paid a mere $265.70.
During the summer of 1895 the Rufus Buck Gang heads out to win back the lands by taunting the Indian Nation to rise up and take back what is theirs. Unfortunately, this mixed breed gang stands alone. Rufus Buck creates havoc and devastation in the realm of the white man. This streak of terror lasts 13 days before he and his ruthless gang are captured and hung.
Gaiter introduces various historical outlaws and Darwin’s the Origin of Species. This brings thought to the complexities of human nature. History buffs will love this book and the voice Gaiter gives Rufus Buck. The suffering of people during this era will enlighten readers and draw them into what life must have been like in the old west.