It's 1883 in Johnson County, in the old Dakota Territory a rugged, wide-open landscape of rolling, red earth, prairie, and cattle as far as the eye can see. But the land is closing, the Beef Bonanza is ending, and the free-range cattlemen are stuck watching a way of life disappear in a blaze of drought and gunfire. An action-packed western from one of the masters of the genre, Oakley Hall's The Bad Lands blends round-ups and rustlers, whorehouses and land grabs, shoot-outs and the threat of hangings in a tale of the war between the cowboys and the cattle barons. But more than this, it is an elegy to the wild beauty of the badlands before the ranchers moved in, chased off the free-rangers, the trappers, and the tribes, and fenced it all in.
Oakley Hall (1920 2008) was a great novelist of the American West and beloved writing teacher of Michael Chabon and Richard Ford, among many others. He is the author of numerous books, including Warlock, The Coming of the Kid, Apaches, and Separations.