|About the Book|
In the early hours of February 10, 1918, a posse surrounded the Power familys small cabin in the remote Galiuro Mountains of southeastern Arizona. A gun battle ensued, and in it four men lost their lives. Their deaths precipitated not only the most intensive man hunt in the history of Arizona, but also a bitter controversy that has persisted into the present, a controversy that continues to be waged in the most frequently recounted historical legend of the area. In the early 1960s, Roderick Roberts learned of the story of The Powers Boys and began to collect information about it from local residents. As he wrote: ...I encountered some informants who would tell the tale but not allow it to be recorded, and others who were so disturbed by the mention of it that they would abruptly conclude the interview. These extreme reactions to an old story seemed to reflect tensions that I had begun to feel in the community, and I speculated that the tale might provide insights into these tensions. As he examined the documentary evidence and recorded oral testimonies about the events and the protagonists, another aspect presented itself: When it became apparent that the version told by non-Mormon Anglos was almost always favorable to the Powers, that the version told by Mormons was almost always hostile to the Powers, and that most Mexican versions had other concerns, I knew that I had stumbled upon a narrative that had a deep significance to the community in which it circulated. I also realized that in this body of tales I was presented with a splendid opportunity to observe a legend shortly after its nascence and to learn something of the ways in which an historical incident can be molded to reflect the biases of a given group and to ease the tensions to which that group is subject. The fact that the version of the story favorable to the Power boys gained sufficient currency to first bring about their parole and then their pardon without the introduction of any new evidence suggested the possibility of studying at first hand one of the functions of the historical legend. The book includes original newspaper accounts and the texts provided by the residents who were interviewed. Roderick Roberts analysis of the situation in Graham County, Arizona, in the early 1960s and his discussion of the definition and historicity of legend provide a fascinating source of information for folklorists, historians, sociologists, and other scholars. And any reader interested in the American Southwest will be intrigued by the story of the tragic shoot-out, the events that led up to it, and the effect it had on the community.