Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Last Eleven Days of Earl Durand

I have completed my first book for the 2008 Back To History Challenge and it was an excellent choice to get this challenge rolling. The book is The Last Eleven Days of Earl Durand by Jerred Metz. My Mother-in-Law sent it to Riff and I for Christmas this year and I couldn't wait to dig in.

The first paragraph is as seen through the eyes of Ronnie Knopp and reads:
'My father and stepmother moved the family from Montana to a farm just north of Powell, Wyoming, in September of 1938. We got there right in time for me to start school. During the first few weeks, I made friends with Tom Spint. He was in the same grade as me and we got off at the same bus stop. Tom walked west from the corner where the bus let us off and I turned north. But we lived close enough to each other that we could pal around together after school. A constant topic of our conversations was our neighbor Earl Durand.'

This is a true story set in our old stomping grounds around Powell and Cody, Wyoming in 1939. Earl Durand is what the newspapers called the last outlaw of the west. He was a local boy who choose the life of a mountain man, was known by many people to be a strange man but at the same time very neighborly and could be counted on to help out anyone in the time of need. Earl was a known poacher, killing hundreds of elk for their ivories. His last eleven days start out with him poaching an elk to help feed a hungry family. Earl had talked two young friends and one of the boys Dad's into going along on this poaching trip with him, so when they were caught, they were all in a bit of trouble. Earl breaks out of jail by taking the deputy sheriff hostage and in the next 10 days leaves 4 men dead and the county terrified before robbing the local Powell bank where he is finally killed along with a young bank teller. I have not spoiled the story for you, as there is no mystery how it is going to end. The author is upfront with that in the first few pages. What is so fascinating about this book, other than the fact that it took place in an area where we lived for a lot of years, is that the story is told over and over again through the eyes and words of those involved these many years later. The author, Jerred Metz, interviewed those people involved who were still alive and in the area years later and wrote the book through their eyes and with their differing opinions on the events. Each person from young Ronnie Knopp, Earl's 16 year old friend who was on the poaching trip, to Ray Easton, the county coroner and undertaker, has their own section.

It reads like a good story, not like a book filled with facts. Very interesting and quite the page turner. Hard to put down. My daughter has even asked me, "Mom, what are you going to do with that Earl Durand book when you're done? Don't get rid of it. I want to read it." I'm definately not getting rid of this one, it will be right on the shelf whenever you want it...

"The most imaginative creator of pulp melodrama never, in his wildest dreams, produced as wild a story as Durand lived in his last ten days. If it had been portrayed on the screen, no one would have believed it could be real."
~Denver Post, March 25, 1939


Blogger Booklogged said...

I had never heard of Earl Durand. This book sounds very interesting and one that I would enjoy. I think my husband would like to read it, too.

Happy New Year, Paula

7:59 PM  
Blogger jenclair said...

I've never heard of him either, but we lived in Casper, Wyoming for several years when I was very young, and I still dream about it. Loved Wyoming and the cowboys and Casper Mountain!

Sounds as if the book is a page turner even though you know the outcome.

8:07 PM  

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