Halloween 2017: Ben Thompson’s Grave

Ben Thompson doesn’t have the level of posthumous fame as his exploits should have earned.  I think it’s because he didn’t have a catchy nickname.  In the early days of Texas statehood, among impulsive, gun-crazy men with a violent streak, he was first among equals.  But fame is fickle and it’s hard to pin down why some gunslingers are well-remembered and why some become footnotes.  In many regards, outside of Texas history buffs, Ben Thompson is a footnote.

Still, among lovers of Old West or Texas history, some of us do remember Ben Thompson and this is a perfect time of the year to share his story.  He was a soldier and a lawman, but among Texas lawmen during the 1800s, it was not uncommon for lawmen to also be criminals, and Thompson was definitely a criminal, and a violent one at that.  So violent was his life that some people interested in ghosts and the paranormal say the power of his character affects his final resting place.

Ben Thompson was like many of the wild men who made Texas their home – he was a jack of all trades before he found his niche as a gunslinger.  Born in England in 1843, his family emigrated to Texas in 1851.  In his teens, he worked as a printer’s apprentice and in 1859 he went to New Orleans to work as a bookbinder.  It was in New Orleans that the man he was to become showed himself when he killed a man whom he claimed was abusing a woman.  Stabbed him to death.  He was fifteen or sixteen when this happened.

He served in the Civil War, fighting with the Confederates, but the battles he fought didn’t quell his love of guns and rough justice because after he returned to Austin he shot and killed a man during an argument over a mule.  A mule.  Seriously.  And since the mule was technically Army property, Thompson was arrested.  That didn’t slow him down though because he busted out of prison and fled to Mexico where he joined Maximillian’s forces until the good emperor lost the war in 1867.  Clearly a man unable to function outside of conflict, Thompson returned to Austin and promptly shot his brother-in-law for abusing Thompson’s wife.  Oh yeah, Thompson got married during his stint in the Civil War.  The civilizing effects of marriage didn’t really take with him.

So, Thompson was tried and sent to prison in Huntsville, and this time he was unable to break out.  He served two years of his four year sentence until pardoned by President Grant.  Once free he headed up to Abilene, Kansas with his family and opened a prosperous saloon with an old Army buddy, Philip Coe, and seemed to be doing reasonably well.  That changed when Thompson was in a terrible buggy accident that injured him, his son and his wife, who lost an arm.  While Thompson was recovering from the accident, Coe went and got himself shot by Marshal “Wild Bill” Hickok.

By any measure Abilene of the early 1870s was a tough town, and its city marshal – James B. (Wild Bill) Hickok – was up to the challenge of taming its rowdy visitors.  Although there may have been many reasons that Hickok and Philip Coe did not care for each other, it is likely that the basis for their dislike was a woman they both cherished.  Apparently she chose the gambler over the lawman and was going to leave town with Coe – or so she thought.  During the evening of October 5, 1871, Hickok shot Coe, who had been firing his pistol into the evening air on a street in Abilene.  Tragically, in the confusion of the shots taken at Coe, Hickok also shot and killed his deputy. (Texas Cemeteries, Harvey)

After that, Abilene, Kansas was tired of Hickok and all the cattle drivers who passed through, making trouble at the drinking and gambling establishments, so they relieved Hickok of his duty and banned undesirables from entering or remaining in the city.  That included Thompson so he went to Ellsworth, Kansas and began his time as a professional gambler.  Interestingly, it was in Ellsworth that Thompson encountered another name we all remember more than poor Ben:

After the shooting of Coe, Ben Thompson left town for Ellsworth, Kansas, where he met Wyatt Earp in one of the Old West’s classic “in the streets” confrontations.  Looking down the barrel of Earp’s gun, Thompson backed down and soon left Ellsworth for the Texas Panhandle.  There Thompson would meet and, in the ensuing years, form a life-long friendship with Bat Masterson. (Texas Cemeteries, Harvey)

Interestingly, Thompson’s brother shot and killed the Ellsworth, Kansas sheriff and fled.  A couple of years later he stood trial and was acquitted – the Thompson family seemed to be able to avoid the worst penalties for their impulsive and criminal natures, but so did a lot of men during that time.  Rustle some cattle and you’d hang immediately if caught but shoot a sheriff and people could understand how the sheriff may have had it coming.

From 1874 to 1879, Thompson made his living as a professional gambler, traveling around various Texas cities, and of course he got into trouble as he did it.  On Christmas Day, 1876, a fight broke out in the Austin Theater.  Thompson, seeing a friend was causing the commotion, decided to help his friend out and jumped into the fray.  When the theater owner emerged with a rifle and shot at Thompson, Thompson returned fire and killed him in three shots.  It was determined later that Thompson had killed in self-defense.

Looking for quick money in the Colorado silver mines, Thompson went west and while there teamed up with his friend, Bat Masterson, who had assembled a team of hired guns to work for Kansas-based railroads that were embroiled in a right of way dispute with Colorado railroads.  Thompson was well-paid for his efforts so he returned to Austin and opened a gambling saloon that he called the Iron Front Saloon.  Here’s where it gets kind of funny: Ben Thompson was scrupulously honest in the way he ran his gambling tables and earned the respect of Austin citizens as being an honest man, so honest that the citizens in Austin elected him to be city marshal, not once, but twice.  And the hell of it is, he was an honest man.  He just liked shooting people.  So why not have an honest shooter serve in law enforcement?

And it was a pretty good decision – plenty of people thought Ben Thompson was the best marshal Austin ever had.  But rest assured he didn’t stop killing people.  In 1882, Thompson visited the Vaudeville Theater in San Antonio and felt that the card tables at the establishment might not meet his level of scrupulous honesty and shot the theater owner, Jack Harris, to death.  He was indicted for murder and resigned as marshal and it will surprise no one that he was acquitted of murder.  Presumably the theater owner had it coming.  Thompson returned to Austin and was given a hero’s welcome

Now, you and I, if we shot a popular entertainment establishment owner to death, we might be emboldened a bit if we returned home to the 1880s version of a ticker tape parade, but it takes a really bold person to return to the scene of the crime.  Thompson went back to the Vaudeville Theater in 1884.  He and his friend, John King Fisher, one helluva gunslinger in his own right, sauntered into San Antonio like they owned the place and news of their arrival spread quickly.

What happened inside the Vaudeville Theater depends on the sources.  Some say that within minutes of entering the saloon area of the Vaudeville Theater, they were both ambushed and shot from behind.  That’s some cowardly crap right there but, it must be said, that there would have been little chance for anyone to kill him in a straightforward gunfight.  But other sources indicate that perhaps Thompson pushed things too far. He had already run into some of Jack Harris’ business partners inside the Vaudeville Theater, but stayed for the show and pressed his luck in the saloon

Thompson and Fisher had been drinking heavily in the saloon.  Inside, Simms, Foster and three confederates were waiting.  When the subject of the murder of Jack Harris came up, Fisher wanted to leave. But Thompson pushed on, eventually slapping Foster and putting a pistol in the saloon owner’s mouth.  Almost immediately shooting broke the tension and silence of the room.  As the smoke cleared, both Thompson and Fisher lay dead on the floor.  Fisher had never drawn a gun, and Thompson managed but a single shot.  Yet the bodies of the outlaw lawmen had nine and thirteen wounds, respectively.  Ironically, a coroner’s jury in San Antonio ruled the killings self-defense. (Texas Cemeteries, Harvey)

Legends of the ambush grew far outside of the reality of what really happened.  Texas history junkies talk of how it was that Ben Thompson killed six of the men who ambushed him with a single six-shooter and hit them each square like ducks in a carnival shooting game.  The reality is that even in the scenario where he pressed his luck, he barely knew what hit him.  I bet he’d have liked the way his own murder played out in terms of the myths that arose around him.  But no one was ever charged with killing him, and his body was shipped back to Austin.  He’s buried in Austin’s Oakwood Cemetery.

I first heard about Ben Thompson from a ghost hunter.  I don’t hunt for ghosts, but I do like looking into ghost legends, and ghost hunters can be really helpful in finding out interesting stories.  The lady I met told me that it was impossible to take a good photo of Ben Thompson’s gravestone because he hates the stone that was put on his resting place because it isn’t the one he won in a card game, so he makes sure all the photos people take are marred in some manner.

Bear with me, this story has some merit.  The late Charley Eckhardt wrote up a lot of what he knew about some of the better and more interesting Texas legends and he wrote a short article about how it was that Ben Thompson won his tombstone in a card game.  One night a tombstone salesman named Luke Watts played poker at a table at Iron Front Saloon and it just so happened that Ben Thompson was playing that night at that table as well.  Watts tried to sell Ben Thompson a tombstone, but Thompson didn’t seem too interested. But when Watts had lost every penny in his pocket, Thompson’s demeanor changed.

Watts was not as good a poker player as he thought he was, and sometime after midnight he announced that he was cleaned out and was leaving the game. Thompson asked him how much his tombstones were worth. “It depends on what kind it is,” Watts replied.

Thompson said he wanted the best tombstone Watts had. Watts told him he had a fine marble stone that was worth $200. Thompson told him to bring it up and put it in the game. Thompson would accept it in lieu of $200 cash. The game began again and Thompson won the tombstone. Watts suggested that he carve at least Thompson’s name and date of birth on it, but Thompson said no. The stone sat in the poker room in the Iron Front for a few months, until Thompson ordered it moved to the basement.

Not long after this Ben Thompson died in the ambush in San Antonio, but according to Eckhardt his resting place in Oakwood Cemetery lacked a headstone until 1925, and that the tombstone he won remained in the basement of the Iron Front Saloon until it was demolished. Eckhardt wasn’t certain if the stone that was eventually placed on his grave was the stone he won in the card game.

I don’t know one rock from another but the stone that marks Ben Thompson’s resting place does not look like it’s fine marble and I don’t think that anyone was too pressed to rescue a slab of marble from the basement of a saloon marked for demolition.

Oakwood Cemetery is a favorite of mine and many others in the area.  I spent a lot of time there searching for the burial places of the victims of the Servant Girl Annihilator, and while I was there years ago, I remembered that legend the ghost hunter told me and I took a photo of Ben Thompson’s gravestone.

And there you go.  Maybe Ben really is angry about his stone and interferes with good pictures.

Join me under the cut as I behave like the killjoy I so often am.

Halloween Week – The Servant Girl Annihilator

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Finally, something truly creepy and scary for Halloween week.

At some point during 2000, I read a book called A Twist at the End: A Novel of O. Henry and the Texas Servant Girl Murders of 1885 by Steven Saylor.  I’m not entirely sure how I came to have this book because I’m not really one for historical fiction, but once I learned that the book was indeed based on real events, I became obsessed with the Servant Girl Annihilator case.  As most friends I had at the time can tell you, I pretty much sent a copy of this book to anyone who showed even the slightest interest in it.  I went on a “ghost tour” that took me on a walk late at night to visit the locations of some of the murders.  It was on this tour that I learned about the “Moonlight Towers,” one of which stood at the end of the street where Mr. Oddbooks and I lived at the time, a nearly useless anachronism that seemed pointless to me until I learned their origin.

Much of what I am going to share here is data I have rattling around in my brain, but I will include a list of links at the end of this article for those who may want to read more about this interesting case than just what I remember.

The moniker “Servant Girl Annihilator” is actually both a flippant and misleading moniker for the person or persons behind the murders that occurred in Austin, Texas in 1884-1885.  The name comes from a line William Sydney Porter, aka “O. Henry” put in a letter to a friend, describing the events in Austin in the summer of 1885.  In a bitchy little comment worthy of Oscar Wilde, Porter snarked that Austin was terribly boring but the attacks from the “Servant Girl Annihilators” made things interesting at night.  This moniker is misleading because men, boyfriends/common law husbands living with some of the female victims were also attacked, and because the last two women killed were not servants, but “respectable” married women.

But most of the victims were indeed women and most of them were black servants.  Here is a list of the victims, as well as what was done to them.  Most readers of this site are hardy people, but if you are new here, the content that follows may be a bit upsetting. 

Halloween Week – Slave Cemeteries

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

I was born in Dallas and have lived in Texas all my life.  When I was a little girl, I can remember seeing “colored” entrances, restrooms and drinking fountains in older downtown buildings.  Jim Crow was dead, in legalities at least, so no black person was forced into using these lesser amenities, but they had not been removed yet.  In some places in older parts of Dallas, such reminders of the nastier parts of racial history in the USA weren’t remodeled or removed until the 1980s.

I tell you all of this because while I was and still am aware that race relations in the USA are difficult, it was still…  shocking when I began cemetery investigation and saw that segregation was enforced even in death.  The slave and “colored” sections of “white” cemeteries were seldom maintained well, which is not particularly surprising.  But I discovered that large chunks of history were lost in those slave and black sections of cemeteries, making even some of the simplest genealogy or historical research maddening, if not completely impossible.

And there’s no way around this expression of sentimentality – often slave and Jim Crow cemeteries are sad places indeed.

The first slave cemetery I found was in Round Rock Cemetery in Round Rock, Texas.  I was there looking for the graves for some Old West villains and lawmen, and was startled when I saw it.

Slave Cemetery
Note that you can’t actually see any headstones beyond that sign. 

Recycled Reads in Austin, Texas

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

The ever devoted Mr. Oddbooks took me to a used book store on my birthday (my birthday was back during the summer, but you all know I run behind on things) and I didn’t have particularly high expectations. The store, Recycled Reads, is sort of a compromise store. You see, a few years back Austin still had Friends of the Library Sales, but some morally anal blowhards ruined it for everyone. One of the few benefits of being a volunteer on behalf of the library is that when the annual sales come around, you get to have first pick of the books. No one really abuses it and even if they did abuse the privilege, first pick means something different to everyone. My first pick sure ain’t gonna be someone else’s first pick.

It’s a small perk, a very small one when one considers the sheer hell of running the book sales for the library. All the screaming kids, all the assholes with scanners beeping up the place as they try to find stock for their online book stores, all the people asking for bulk discounts or special discounts, the mess and the dust. Yet someone made a fuss about some elderly women holding back a few books to buy after the sale and it resulted in such a mess that for a while, if I recall correctly, the Friends of the Library disbanded for a bit. They sure stopped the annual sales at Palmer Auditorium. Recycled Reads is what came after the annual sales ended. Not sure what the difference is since it is still volunteer-run but I guess now there are cameras to make sure no one there sets aside a completely trashed copy of some old school best-seller? No idea, but given my experiences with library sales, I expected Recycled Reads to be a complete shit hole filled with book sellers beeping up the joint, dust everywhere, and at least one kid with a smelly diaper toddling about.

Recycled Reads, 9/20/12
The outside did not fill me with confidence. It looked like it was going to be some hole in the wall. And yeah, strip malls, bleah…

But the store was much larger than the outside would lead one to believe. It was pretty well organized and nary a beeping shopper to be found. Clean, too.

Recycled Reads, 9/20/12

The store was having some sort of steam punk thing going on.

Recycled Reads, 9/20/12

I am not really that interested in steam punk, as a genre or as an aesthetic but some of the displays were visually interesting.

Recycled Reads, 9/20/12
I was interested in buying this little piece of art but was stymied.  The store was not authorized to sell these pieces and advised me to take a card and contact the artist. Funny but ultimately stupid story: I took the card next to the piece and contacted the artist. The man I contacted had no idea what I was talking about. He was a painter, not a maker of miniature vampire hunting kits. I went back and checked the picture I took of the section and sure enough his cards were placed right next to the little kit. But stuff gets moved around in this place, as other pics will show. A shame, really, but perhaps I should just try to make something like this myself.

Recycled Reads, 9/20/12
The store was far better organized than a regular library sale.  However, no matter how well-organized it may be, it’s hard to discuss a store like this because the inventory turns over every few days or so, even including the books that are not part of the library culls. The public donates books to this location – lots of books. I saw several people bring in boxes of books when I was there. Like, entire trunks of cars full of boxes sorts of drop-offs. While I was there, the fiction section was blah but I found a dozen or so history books that had to come home with me. Among them were a biography about Madame C. J. Walker, a book about a man who stalked Queen Victoria, a biography of Horatio Alger and a biography of Jennie Churchill.

Mr. Oddbooks also found a lot of books about naval history and doing stuff with boats. As a person who grew up then subsequently lived her life landlocked, I have no idea, but he seemed to like them.

Recycled Reads, 9/20/12
The store had a nice collectible section, but you will be hard pressed to tell because I took some really crappy pics with my phone. Sorry about that.

Recycled Reads, 9/20/12
The store also had a pretty good selection of sociology and cultural studies books but because everything in life invariably photographs terribly and is awfully staged when I am behind the camera, all you can really see is the misplaced copy of Jane Smiley’s Moo. I snagged a Cornell West title, One Drop of Blood: The American Misadventure of Race by Scott Malcolmsen, Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin, Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in a Free Society by Peter McWilliams, No Shame in My Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City by Katherine Williams, and The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A.J. Jacobs.

Recycled Reads, 9/20/12
I do feel some regret about not purchasing The New Glutton or Epicure.

Recycled Reads, 9/20/12
Mostly, it’s a brightly colored store with art and some seating, most of it less than comfortable. I have some more blurry pictures here if you are interested. But you really can’t ask for amazing seating in a place where the hardcovers are all $2 and the softcovers are $1. A friend of mine got a vintage and evidently very expensive collection of Mark Twain books for about $50 at Recycled Reads. I did not luck into anything like that but we did leave with 42 books for $90.

The hours are extremely limited. They are only open Thursday through Sunday, 12-6. But you know, cheap books and supporting the library system in Austin. So there’s that.

I didn’t really fall in love with this store but, again, the stock turns over so frequently that I could go there next Friday and think it is the best place ever. So checking it out if you are an Austinista or just visiting would be worth it if you land there on a day when they have stocked the sections relevant to your interests.

South Congress Books, Austin, Texas

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

So, I’ve been lax where discussing independent book stores is concerned. Amazon has made me completely unwilling to leave my house and risk encountering crappy selections, deal with parking and endure as kids half my age sneer at my selections because I’m obviously too pedestrian for them to waste their time bothering to make eye contact with me as I spend Mr. Oddbooks hard earned cash on the very things that permit them to have a job in the first place. (Yeah – I hate shopping at BookPeople. There! I said it. Most arrogant, unpleasant staff ever. If I wanna be mocked by weird kids with poor taste, I’ll review another Tao Lin book.)

But Mr. Oddbooks and I decided the best way we could spend our Fourth of July would be to go a bookstore and we chose South Congress Books.
South Congress Books, Austin, Texas

Oh, I very much like this store.
South Congress Books, Austin, Texas

You know how bibliophiles talk about loving the smell of books? And you go into a book store and all you can really smell is dust? Used book stores, I fear, have come to represent the smell of old books – musty dustiness. In South Congress Books, you get to smell that gorgeous aroma of books, of softened pages, crisp mylar, and a vague under note of vanilla, possibly nutmeg – something sweet and edible. The real smell of beloved, pre-read books, not the smell of mustiness.

The store is also a huge departure from most used book stores. Sometimes you want a store that is a hot mess because you want to dig through piles in the hopes of finding an under-priced gem. But sometimes you want a store that has done the work for you and separated the wheat from the chaff. South Congress Books is a small store and gorgeously arranged. So organized that my inner organizational pedant wept. One of the reasons it can be so organized is because this store is particular in what they stock. You go into a used book store and you expect to see the usual shelves of Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz and endless copies of the same romance novel. Not at South Congress Books. Here, if there is a King on the shelves, it is because it is a first edition, not because dozens of people decided to get rid of their copies of Duma Key at roughly the same time. Their eye to selective book acquisition means one could spend hours in this small store because every title is worth picking up and flipping through.
South Congress Books, Austin, Texas
I did not see a single copy of Eat, Pray, Love in the entire store, not even in the signed books. It felt good.

I’m not kidding. The selection is astonishing. Guys, the cats here at Chez Oddbooks have had a rough couple of months. Kidney failure, thyroid problems, urinary tract infections, a weird spell of sneezing blood that we never got figured out despite numerous vet visits. That kind of devotion to elderly and defective pets costs money, money that in a just and decent world would be spent on books. I had to tell Mr. Oddbooks we had to go before he was really ready and I studiously avoided certain sections of the store (the metaphysics section would have wrecked me financially had I looked in serious depth) once I ascertained there were titles I really wanted and had to put back on the shelves because I chose to keep the cats comfortable. And the cats are totally not grateful and there were, like, seven books I had to leave behind. Goddamn cats.
South Congress Books, Austin, Texas
So, instead of owning this copy of Dr. Johnson’s Doorknob, I just have to go to bed at night knowing that Cicero Cat’s metabolism is working well again. If you want a good look at all the books I had to leave behind, here’s my small Flickr set of the pics I took that day.

South Congress Books, Austin, Texas
This is Sheri, one of the co-owners. She told me about a strange series she read by Andrey Kurkov. She hooked me up with the second book in the series, which is awesome because it will remind me to order the first book. If it’s odd enough, I am sure to discuss it here. She also worked at Half-Price Books and listened calmly as I shared the horrors I faced at the Round Rock store, what with all the bats, rats, urine soaking from the men’s bathroom into the break room and that black stuff that may have been mold but was probably something far worse. Most frightening building I’ve ever worked in. But enough about me…

Here’s what we ended up with that magical day:
Kings of the Road: A Cartoonumentary of a Life on the Road by Ragnar
Penguin Lost by Andrey Kurkov
Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr by Jean-Paul Sartre
The Murder of Marilyn Monroe by Leonore Canevari, Jeanette van Wyhe, Christian Dimas and Rachel Dimas with foreword by Brad Steiger (this one is gonna get discussed here for sure)
Oval Office Occult: True Stories of White House Weirdness by Brian M. Thomsen
Dessous: Lingerie as Erotic Weapon by Gilles Neret
Smothered in Hugs: Essays, Interviews, Feedback, and Obituaries by Dennis Cooper

And of course, our selections are in no way representative of the bulk of the books in the store. The art and photography sections, in particular, were amazing.
South Congress Books, Austin, Texas

The only drawback I found to the place is that being on South Congress there were a lot of looky-loos wandering around, which happens when a shop is located on a street with a lot of foot traffic, and it happens even more in the heat of the Texas summer when people are looking for a place with sweet, merciful air conditioning as they make their way to the BBQ and beer trailers. And if one has to discuss the traffic of people who just wanted to look around in order to find a drawback, then that means there probably isn’t one.

Next time I go I will have a large wad of cash with me. Mark my words, I will not go back into South Congress Books without some serious bank because it was just too painful to leave behind books that were so clearly meant to come home with me. Sigh…

Brave New Books, Austin

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Okay, I have to admit I buy the bulk of my books online. Not only do I find what I am looking for but I also don’t have to deal with disapproving glances from hipper-than-thou clerks who can barely restrain themselves from sighing as they see if they can order David Icke from the distributor. There are locally-owned book stores in Austin, Texas, but I’ve come to dislike BookPeople because they harass me to check my purse every time I go in (I could be naked and carrying a change purse and I’d be asked to check all my belongings at the front desk). Ever since FringeWare died a decade ago, I haven’t had a local store that I really like, a place where I can get my odd topics on without being subject to snerts for displaying a lack of intellectual snobbery or apparently being such a crime risk I have to leave my wallet, check book and car keys with a stranger in order to have the privilege of shopping.

So when Mr. Oddbooks discovered that Brave New Books has been operating in Austin for 4 years, I was annoyed that I had not heard of them, but I am also a hermit so it comes as little surprise. Dubious, I agreed to check the place out and am glad I did. In fact, I was so pleased that I may start trying to visit other small book stores around Texas and beyond. Or I may not. I’m a notorious flake. But you never know.

Brave New Books stocks titles that would appeal to those of us with interests in the fringe, lunatic or otherwise, as well as maintaining a nice little DVD section. The store also runs films in a back room, and hosts discussions on relatively diverse topics. On Saturday, July 24, there will be a discussion about the Templars and Christopher Columbus. Leaving my home two weekends in a row seems arduous to me because the only thing I hate worse than leaving my house is leaving my house, but I may well try to attend.
Brave New Books, Austin, Texas

I asked the owner, Harlan Dietrich, to tell me what book in the store he felt I needed to read. Because he is not the indiscriminate conspiracy nut that I am, he recommended The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve by G. Edward Griffin. I had heard some buzz around this book but am sometimes mentally lazy, preferring to read easier, more salacious sorts of books (evidenced by the ones I selected on my own and by the bulk of what I review here) and likely would not have purchased it had he not recommended it.

I also purchased:
War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race by Edwin Black
The Illuminati: Facts & Fiction by Mark Dice
Apocalypse Waiting To Happen, The Plagues That Threaten Us All by Dr. John Coleman
Liquid Conspiracy: JFK, LSD, the CIA, Area 51 and UFOs by George Piccard
And, best of all, the last copy of 9-11 Descent into Tyranny: The New World Order’s Dark Plans to Turn Earth into a Prison Planet by local hero, Alex Jones, whom I sometimes mock, but love nonetheless.

And though I am linking to my Amazon account via some of the above links, I only do so when the book I purchased there is not on Brave New Books’ online ordering system or if I know I got the last copy and linking to it could cause the store some hassle. So you can shop there even if you don’t live in Austin – browse the site’s selection as well as their events section. It appears that this store, unlike some of the other independent book stores in town, is contributing to the community with free lectures and a space to watch films. Though I am laughably the worst person to be encouraging community involvement since my own community mainly involves simply the two levels in my own home, I think such engagement is to be lauded and supported. There was a lively political discussion taking place around the front desk while we were there, and the whole vibe of the place just suited me. I encourage you to shop there.

Brave New Books, Austin, Texas