Johannesburg was -- and is -- the Frontier of Money. Within months of its founding, the mining camp was host to organised crime: the African Regiment of the Hills and Irish Brigade bandits. Bars, brothels, boarding houses and hotels oozed testosterone and violence, and the use of fists and guns was commonplace. Beyond the chaos were clear signs of ather struggle, one to maintain control, hour and order within the emerging male and mining dominated culture. In the underworld, the dictum of hour among thieves , as well as a hatred of informers, testified to attempts at self-regulation. A real man did t take advantage of an opponent by employing underhand tactics. It had to be a fair fight if a man was to be respected. This was the world that One-armed Jack McLoughlin -- brigand, soldier, sailor, mercenary, burglar, highwayman and safe-cracker -- entered in the early 1890s to become Johannesburg's most infamous Irish anti-hero and social bandit. McLoughlin's infatuation with George Stevenson prompted him to recruit the young Englishman into his gang of safe-crackers but Stevo was a man with a past and primed for personal and professional betrayal. It was a deadly mixture. Hour could only be retrieved through a Showdown at the Red Lion.
Charles van Onselen is the acclaimed author of The Small Matter of a Horse, The Fox and the Flies, Masked Raiders, and The Seed is Mine, which won the Alan Paton and Herskovits prizes and was voted as one of the 100 best books to emerge from Africa during the 20th century. He has been honoured with visiting fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and Oxford, and was invited to be the inaugural Oppenheimer Fellow in the WEB Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Studies at Harvard. He is currently Research Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria.