Jeff Long is one of the American wests best narrative historians, with his masterpiece A Duel of Eagles standing tall in this reader’s memory twenty years after its reading. For this story of a real modern outlaw in the conflicted American West, Jeff walked the land, spoke with the people where “convictions were forged in campfire” in his successful quest to tell the story of two uncompromising souls: Bill Pogue, Federal Cop, “with his faith in the basic decency of animals” and a driving conviction to enforce the letter of the law upon any and all humans, and Claude Dallas, a man who sought the grinding poverty of a nearly vanished existence in a bid to live elementally beyond the reach of civilization and its laws.
People fell out in a moral feud over which man represented what was right, true and American. But both men were much more than the postmodern man is supposed to be. Pogue was such a straight and decent arrow that he would not be able to survive on a city police force without being ambushed by criminals or ostracized by fellow cops. Dallas has a work ethic that would make him a pariah on any unionized or nonunion work site in America. They were both real paragons of a kind of mutually denying purity of purpose that could not coexist in their time and may not exist in our lesser time.
On one dry winter day at Bull Camp, where Dallas was practicing survival poaching, Pogue and a lesser BLM [Bureau of Land Management] agent gave Dallas a choice, be handcuffed at gunpoint or become the forever hunted enemy of the most powerful force to ever enforce the domesticity of civilization upon Man. Let Jeff Long take you back to the lost and forgotten age of the 1970s and early 80s, when men could still be as men had once been for at least a fleeting encounter, before the demeaning hand of modernity rendered them into caged and buried memories.
Follow Bill and Claude on their tragic journey through a land where, “The gorges are cool and repetitious. Scarce water keeps on carving the walls of the labyrinth deeper.”
Thank you, Ishmael, for the chance to read this book.