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The Notorious Reno Gang

The Wild Story of the West's First Brotherhood of Thieves, Assassins, and Train Robbers

Rachel Dickinson

Hardback
The true story of the world’s first robbery of a moving train, and the real origins of the Wild West

They were the first outlaws to rob a moving train. But from 1864 to 1868, the Reno brothers and their gang of counterfeiters, robbers, burglars, and safecrackers also held the town of Seymour, Indiana, hostage, making a large hotel near the train station their headquarters. When the gang robbed the Adams Express car of the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad on the outskirts of Seymour on October 6, 1866, it shocked the world—and made other burgeoning outlaws like Jesse James sit up and take notice. The extraordinary—and extra-legal—efforts to take them out defined the term “frontier justice.” From the first report of the robbery, Allan Pinkerton’s operatives were on the scene, followed by kidnappings, lynchings, and an extradition from Canada to Indiana that caused an international incident. In the end, ten members of the Reno Gang were hanged, including three of the Reno brothers. And no one was ever charged with the murders.

The Notorious Reno Gang tells the complete story for the first time, revealing how these gangsters, Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency, and the little city of Seymour ushered in the Wild West.
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Globe Pequot Press / Lyons Press
Pages: 272Size: 6 1/4 x 9 3/8
978-1-4930-2639-5 • Hardback • May 2017 • $22.95 • (£15.95)
978-1-4930-2640-1 • eBook • May 2017 • $21.99 • (£14.95) (coming soon)
Rachel Dickinson is a writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications including The Atlantic, Smithsonian.com, Outside, Men’s Journal, American Way, Aeon, Salon, and Audubon. She has been awarded two Travel Classics awards, an American Society of Journalists and Authors award for best book, a National Endowment for the Humanities Youth Fellowship, and a coveted Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. The author of Falconer on the Edge: A Man, His Birds, and the Vanishing Landscape of the American West, she lives in Freeville, New York.
Evocative prose and rich historical context add depth and broad appeal to this captivating account of the men behind the first-ever robbery of a moving train, their wave of crimes in the 1860s, and their deaths at the hands of vigilantes.
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review


The law and the Pinkertons couldn’t handle the murderous Reno Gang, America’s first train robbers and outlaw band, or the murderous vigilante mobs who fitted them with ‘hempen collars.’ Finally a great detective is on the case: journalist Rachel Dickinson does them all justice in this fascinating, throat-clinching, true-life narrative of Civil-War era history, crime, and justice for all.”
Michael Capuzzo, New York Times bestselling author of The Murder Room and Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916


With train robberies, murder, equally bloodthirsty criminals and vigilantes, and a cameo by Abe Lincoln, The Notorious Reno Gang is one of the most entertaining books in years—and it’s all true!
Jeff Guinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral—And How It Changed the American West


The Reno thugs—‘spiders at the center of a five-hundred-mile web of crime’—filled the moral vacuum following the Civil War with arson, counterfeiting, and train hijacking. Rachel Dickinson has written a compelling narrative of a small town plagued by violence and vice, a microcosm that portrays the issues plaguing many frontier towns in the last half of the nineteenth century. Her prose is spell-binding, and her grasp of the tortured history of American westward settlement is riveting.
Lisa Alther, New York Times bestselling author of Blood Feud: The Hatfields and the McCoys: The Epic Story of Murder and Vengeance


In this brilliantly authentic account, Rachel Dickinson tells the true story of the original band of bad-boy Wild West outlaws in all their depraved glory—and the relentless man who hunted them down. Vivid, gripping, and a pure delight to read.
Philip Gerard, author of Secret Soldiers: The Story of World War II’s Heroic Army of Deception


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