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The Bad Lands

A Novel

It’s 1883 in Johnson County, in the old Dakota Territory—a rugged, wide-open landscape of rolling, red earth, prairie, and cattle as far as the eye can see. But the land is closing, the “Beef Bonanza” is ending, and the free-range cattlemen are stuck watching a way of life disappear in a blaze of drought and gunfire.

An action-packed western from one of the masters of the genre, Oakley Hall’s The Bad Lands blends roundups and rustlers, whorehouses and land grabs, shoot-outs and the threat of hangings in a tale of the war between the cowboys and the cattle barons. But more than this, it is an elegy to the wild beauty of the badlands before the ranchers moved in, chased off the free-rangers, the trappers, and the tribes, and fenced it all in.

376 pages | 1 map | 6 x 9 | © 1978, 2016



“Readers unable to suppress an unfashionable yearning for a good story will be delighted with The Bad Lands. . . . The cast of whores, gunhands, buffalo hunters, and grizzled settlers is effectively put into play. . . . Hall has thrust his imagination into that time and that place, and has written quite a good book.”

Larry McMurtry | New York Times

The Ox-Bow Incident, Shane, The Big Sky, Hall’s own Warlock. . . . The Bad Lands belongs with this select group.”

Los Angeles Times

“A suspenseful, passionate tale of men, land, love, and greed in the Old West.”

Publishers Weekly

“An elegiac, incandescent 1880s Dakota badlands Western that bears comparison to the greats (Shane, Ox-Bow Incident) that it recalls. . . . A tale of tragic justice, of nightriders, of horse thieves fighting cattle thieves—the clearest call yet from the sensitive, slicing voice that rang through the west in Warlock.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Long on plot and action, The Bad Lands is a solid, satisfying story. . . . As full of motion and as picturesque as a Remington bronze.”

Chicago Tribune

“We are a nation that can, many of us, toss with all aplomb our candy wrapper into the Grand Canyon itself, snap a color shot, and drive away; and we need voices like Hall’s to remind us how far that piece of paper, still fluttering brightly behind us, has to fall.”

Thomas Pynchon

“Like Henry James and Mark Twain, Hall is a master craftsman of the story.”

Amy Tan

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1. Classical Archaeology: The “Handmaid of History”?
The Rediscovery of the Past
The Opening Up of Greece
Philological Archaeology
The Birth of Prehistory
Theory Wars
2. Delphic Vapours
The Triumph of Science?
The Delphic Oracle
The Geology of the Site
Inspired Mantic or Fraudulent Puppet?
Documents for Chapter 2
3. The Persian Destruction of Eretria
A Tale of Two Temples
Yet Another Temple?
Unmooring “Fixed Points”
Science to the Rescue?
Documents for Chapter 3
4. Eleusis, the Oath of Plataia, and the Peace of Kallias
The Archaios Neos at Eleusis
The Oath of Plataia
The Peace of Kallias
Restoring the Sanctuaries of Attica
Documents for Chapter 4
5. Sokrates in the Athenian Agora
The House of Simon
The State Prison
Sokrates on Death Row
Documents for Chapter 5
6. The Tombs at Vergina
The Discovery of the Tombs
The Political Dimension
Aigeai and Vergina
The Occupants of Tomb II
The Tomb and Its Contents
A Third Possibility
Documents for Chapter 6
7. The City of Romulus
Untangling the Foundation Myths of Rome
Romulus and Remus
The Early Kings Materialized?
State Formation and Urbanization
Documents for Chapter 7
8. The Birth of the Roman Republic
The Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus
The Fall of a Tyrant
The Nature of the Kingship
The Origins of the Consulship
“Etruscan” Rome
Documents for Chapter 8
9. Imperial Austerity: The House of Augustus
The House Unearthed
From Dux to Princeps
Reconciling the Evidence
Documents for Chapter 9
10. The Bones of St. Peter
The Discovery of the Tomb
Beneath St. Peter’s
Peter in Rome
Peter on the Appian Way
Peter in Jerusalem
Postscript: The Tomb of St. Philip
Documents for Chapter 10
11. Conclusion: Classical Archaeology and the Ancient Historian
Navigating between Textual and Material Evidence
Words and Things
Bridging the “Great Divide”?
List of Ancient Authors

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