Thursday, February 21, 2013

With Blood in Their Eyes

Long before sun-up on a cold February morning in 1918, gunfire tore through a Southern Arizona mining shack spraying splinters of glass, wood and blood into infamy. Within several minutes, 25 bullets felled four men and prompted the largest manhunt in Arizona history. Thomas Cobb, a Tucson native, recounts this lesser-known but no less controversial Arizona gunfight in his historically based novel, With Blood in Their Eyes - deftly weaving fact, local lore and geographical color in among the events leading to the shooting and the chase.

Even today, speculation lingers about what prompted the Graham County Sheriff Department's raid on the Power Camp. Hard work, hard luck and small illicit gains followed Jeff Power and his family west. Staked claims on cattle, timber and ore played out and his women died hard, leaving just Jeff and his sons, Tom and John working a small gold mine in the Galiuros Mountains on that fateful day. True the Power boys, who were in their mid-20s, had refused to register for the mandatory draft but maybe more compelling were Tom's stockpiled illegal bootleg and shady dealings with some of the sheriff department's finest.

So did it finish as bloody as it started? I won't tell you how day 28 ended on the brushy ground of Mexico. If you're unfamiliar with the Powers' story, follow the boys as they trail horseback then, when the posse happened upon their tethered horses, afoot over miles of the rugged rock formation in the Dragoons and Chiricahuas and along the open Sulphur Springs Valley grasslands - always looking toward Mexico. And if you think you know their story, get to know the men through Cobb's realistic, colorful dialog and observations.

The Southwest Books of the Year panel recognized With Blood in Their Eyes as a top pick for 2012. Look for additional regional offerings chosen as 2012 Southwest books of the year either at your local library or online at

Thomas Cobb will be discussing the process (and in his case, the art) of writing western history at this year's Tucson Festival of Books, March 9-10 at the University of Arizona.
For more information:

Vicki Ann  

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