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No one does gritty like Leonard This is bleak, barren, ugly the perfect prison He had me sweating dry as a bone in Yuma prison s heat when it s cold wet here Excellently done, but brutal depressing It was a quick read, but I just didn t get to it with the holidays I should have. Another excellent novel from Leonardthe master. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one2 Corinthians 11 24They had learned to do this in the past months, to detach themselves and be inside or outside the running man but not part of him for long minutes at a timeEl Leonard, Forty Lashes Less OneI remember finishing this, the fourth and last novel in Library of America s Westerns Last Stand at Saber River Hombre Valdez Is Coming Forty Lashes Less One Stories thinkingTHIS needs to be made into a movie by Quentin TarantinoWell, I ll be sucking water out of a shotgun in the hot desert of AZ if Tarantino doesn t already own the rights to this book It sounds, however, like he s thinking of making it into a TV series rather than a movie OK Tarantino, you be you.Anyway, the book is harsh, funny, absurd, and has two of my favorite protagonists in a Western novel ever It isn t my favorite El Leonard, but it is hard to think of a better scene than Raymond the Apache and Harold the Zulu warrior running after Frank Shelby and his gang with their spears One of my favorite things about Leonard s Westerns is I KNOW all the places he writes about I ve driven through Ajo multiple times on my way to Mexico I ve spent time than I planned in Yuma His scenes all hit home with a nostalgic sadness I also love that he doesn t shy away from the racist parts of the American West He explores many ways blacks, Mexicans, and Apaches were treated Which, sadly, seems a bit relevant today still. Leonard writes with a cinematic touch, characters that stand out, locations vividly described, and with a plot that just possibly could happen, but probably not That s the case here Start with an old West prison you can picture the dust blowing, the bland buildings, the bars in the windows, the frumpy guards in dirty and drab uniforms Drop in a new minister turned warden from the East, a real fish out of water One who wants to prove he knows a thing or two about redemption and rehabilitation from the Bible So let s see, which prisoners should he use for his experiment How about the two that stand out because of being of different races than all of the rest the black and Mexican Indian prisoners As this was happening about the time of the first modern Olympics which I don t recall Leonard mentioning for some reason , the warden thinks of long distance running here, and so we have the cinematic view of two prisoners running in the desert following a Ford And of course, there are unintended benefits to this avocation to provide the good vs bad action at the end of the story It seems I ve seen this before, perhaps parts in different movies I enjoyed reading this, but I found it wasn t as interesting or believable as other Leonard cops and robbers stories that I ve read recently And I don t recall the title lashes even showing up in the story And even stranger, the picture on the box of multiple riders depicted something else that wasn t in the story What s the deal with that I did like the narration on the audiobook, which made the characters stand out. ( DOWNLOAD EPUB ) ⚖ Forty Lashes Less One ☥ The Hell Called Yuma Prison Can Destroy The Soul Of Any Man And It S Worse For Those Whose Damning Crime Is The Color Of Their Skin The Law Says Chiricahua Apache Raymond San Carlos And Black As Night Former Soldier Harold Jackson Are Murderers, And They Ll Stay Behind Bars Until They Re Dead And Rotting But Even In The Worst Place On Earth, There S Hope And For Two Hard And Hated Inmates First Enemies, Then Allies By Necessity It Waits At The End Of A Mad And Violent Contest On A Bloody Trail That Winds Toward Arizona S Five Most Dangerous Men
El Leonard s Novel Of Yuma PrisonEl Leonard 1925 2013 wrote western novels before turning to the crime and suspense fiction for which he is better known The Library of America has recently published a volume of four of Leonard s western novels and eight of his stories which offers an excellent opportunity to explore his writing in this genre I have been enjoying reading each individual work in the LOA compilation.Published as a paperback original in 1972, Forty Lashes Less One is the final western novel in the LOA volume The story is set in 1909, the last year of operation of the Yuma Territorial Prison in Yuma, Arizona The prison had been established in 1875 and was built by convict labor In 1909, the inmates were transferred to a new Arizona State prison in Florence The site of the old prison is today an Arizona State Park.Leonard s novel offers a gritty look at Yuma Territorial Prison and its horrors just as the facility was being closed and the inmates transferred to Florence The depiction of prison life is as central to the book as is the story The novel features an attempted escape by some inmates as they were being transferred by train to the new Florence prison The scenes of prison life have a realistic feel, but Leonard s book is a work of fiction.The book includes many characters involved in the administration of the prison together with many of the inmates, including two women The language of the story is realistic and raw and includes many racial epithets unacceptable today It is clear that the book rejects racially offensive views offered by several characters just as it rejects the cruelty of the old prison.The central characters in the book are two inmates convicted of murder, an African American named Harold Jackson and an Apache Indian Raymond San Carlos The two men become bitter enemies when the meet in the prison due to the machinations of another prisoner, Frank Shelby, the kingpin among the inmates and the villain of the book Jackson and Carlos are thrown together in a horrible pit, the snake den, in solitary confinement They gradually become fast friends due in part to the well meaning but bumbling attempts of the new temporary superintendent in Yuma s final days, Everett Manly Manly, 60, had converted to religion as a young man and had had an undistinguished 40 year career as a fundamentalist minister He knows next to nothing about prisons but he takes an interest in reform and in Jackson and Carlos He makes awkward and laughable efforts to teach the two young men Christianity, but he ultimately gives the two inmates strength and purpose when he gives them the opportunity to learn to run Manly is far from free of racism but he does show an interest in his inmate charges and works towards having them better their situation in life.The book describes the hierarchy of prison life, with Shelby and his group intimidating the other inmates and the guards Leonard shows the foul cells, the cruel hard labor of the inmates, the corrupt guards and administrators, the ever present violence and sickness, and the inevitable sexual abuse occasioned by the presence of the two women inmates The book builds to the moment of transfer to Florence and the plans of Shelby and his followers to escape during the train trip.The book includes the sharp, realistic dialogue that would make Leonard famous together with the depictions of prison life In places, the book becomes too cluttered with characters and sub plots and lacks the sense of pacing that Leonard would master soon after writing this work The book invites reflection on religion, as taught by Mr Manly, and also includes a sharp portrayal and critique of racism and of the prison system It also includes complex plotting and a sharp twist at the end of the story Four Lashes Less One is worthy of inclusion by the LOA, and is a great deal than a stereotyped prison melodrama.Robin Friedman One crazy book, but that s what you expect from El Leonard Not my favorite from El, an author I really like It s a period book very early 1900 s which takes place primarily in the famous prison in Yuma Arizona Many, many characters, and none of them very good The best of the bunch is a wannabe Pentecostal preacher temporarily acting warden of the prison, a half bread Apache and a black man born in Georgia The worst of the none so good is the prison s turn key, the King prisoner who is planning an escape and a buxom woman prisoner who is really up to no good You probably can guess the goings on, so be warned, the language is really ruff and the mingling of men prisoners with a woman prisoner is explicit Can t recommend this book for anyone under the age of, say 60 One of the best books I ve read in a while.It s surprising, simple and so funny that I actualy found myself laughing most of the times.The dialogue obviously is great and the ending is so, so good It fits perfectly with the story and the characters.I can recommend this book forever 5 stars. It s easy to see why El Leonard was good at westerns His characters ring true and that s especially true here The na ve warden, the outcast protagonists and an antagonist that the reader naturally roots against I enjoyed this one. Started slowly, but good old E.L twists and turns and grubby characters made it a winner.