Deuce of Clubs Book Club: Books of the Weak

To Deuce of Clubs index page

I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski

Guy Debord: Revolutionary

No Place to Hide

Command of Office

The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems

The Christian Delusion

Lincoln's Wrath

How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself

The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex


Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Catching the Big Fish

Dig Infinity

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

Crazy for God

Basin and Range

Anarchy Evolution

The File

John Ringo

The Supremes

End the Fed

Burning Book

The Hohokam Millenium

God's Middle Finger


In Heaven Everything Is Fine

The Shunning

Wisdom Sits in Places

The Marvelous Country

Hamilton's Curse

The Secret Life of Houdini

The Trouble with Being Born

Schulz and Peanuts

First Into Nagasaki

Joe Miller's Jests

Human Smoke

Dirty Tricks Cops Use

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

All For A Few Perfect Waves


Death in the Desert

American Signs

Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention

Secrets Of A Stingy Scoundrel

The Self-Made Tapestry

A Constitutional History of Secession

The Neurotic's Notebook

Interrogation Machine

Monster Midway

The Harlot by the Side of the Road

Forced Into Glory

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

J. G. Ballard: Quotes

The Compleat Practical Joker

Laugh with Hugh Troy


A Liar's Autobiography


Chasing Rainbows

Letters from Tucson, 1925-1927

The Five Fosters

The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World

How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker

World Famous Cults & Fanatics

That's Not All, Folks!

God's Problem

Will Christ Return By 1988?

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology

The Whiskey Rebellion

FDR's Folly

Wilson's War

Bully Boy

[If] I Did It

The Dark Side

Secret Origins of the Bible


The End of Faith

Why I Became An Atheist

"Life's Calendar for 1922"

Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War

The Negro Cowboys


Monty Python Speaks

Baseball Between the Numbers

The Psychopath's Bible


J. G. Ballard: Conversations

Days of War, Nights of Love

Gospel Fictions and Who Wrote the Gospels?

The Real Deadwood


The Revolution: A Manifesto


The Secret Man

Stormin' Mormon

From Psyche to Soma

I'll Gather My Geese

The Osama bin Laden I Know

Alias "Paine"

A Man Without Words

The Wild Trees

The World Without Us

Arizona's Changing Rivers

The Phoenix Indian School

Realm of the Long Eyes

John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal

Buckey O'Neill: The Story of a Rough Rider

Thanks For Tuning In

Adventures in the Apache Country

Waylon: An Autobiography

My Life: Sunrise to Sunset

Mimes and Miners: A Historical Study of the Theater in Tombstone

The First 100 Years: A History of Arizona Blacks

Enter Without Knocking

City in the Sun: The Japanese Concentration Camp at Poston, Arizona

House by the Buckeye Road

Vanished Arizona

The Big Con

The Astronomy Cafe and Back to the Astronomy Cafe

A Handbook on Hanging

The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right

A Mind Restored

Mr. Show: What Happened?!

Reclaiming the American Revolution

Stumbling On Happiness

Treasure Maps of the Superstitions

Sunny Slope

Did Genesis Man Conquer Space?

Look Homeward, America

Radicals for Capitalism

Kayaker's Little Book of Wisdom

God Is Not Great

The Echoing Green

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll

K Foundation Burn a Million Quid

The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes and The Tao of Willie

Just Six Numbers and Our Cosmic Habitat

Wild Goose Chronicles

Behind Bars: Surviving Prison

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

The Gang They Couldn't Catch


A History of the End of the World

Al Sieber: Chief of Scouts

Apaches & Longhorns

Deep Survival




Bo: Pitching & Wooing

You Are Worthless

You And Your Hand

Access All Areas

Field Guide to the Apocalypse

The War on Terrorism

Those Idiots From Earth

September 11: An Oral History

Mortal Questions

The Heresy of Self-Love

The White Flag Principle

Medieval Panorama

An Honest President

Those Words

À rebours

Peterson's Incident Report Book

Boo! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex

Victory Denied

Nothing, Arizona

A Porcine History of Philosophy and Religion

O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto


¿Hablas conmigo

Thirty-three Candles

Black Monk Time

Men of Distinction

Alexander the Corrector

Space Viking

Mark These Men

Hallucinogenic Plants

Prohibition: An Adventure in Freedom

JESUS! He's Our President


How to Watch Football on Television

Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love

Lincoln: The Man and The Car

Whatever Men Know About Women

Biographies of Italian War Heroes

ABC of Espionage

Art Colony Perverts


Starting Right with Bees

Planet Earth is a Cult

Baseball Letters


Dopey Doings

Democracy: The God That Failed

Handgrenade Talk

Hi, How Are You?

het zingen van het ijs

The Museum of Jurassic Technology Jubilee Catalogue

The Rector and the Rogue

Colorful Cacti of the American Deserts

Odd Jobs: The World of Deviant Work

The Hungry Man's Outdoor Grill Cookbook

How to Get Invited to the White House

How to Work for a Jerk

Never Work for a Jerk!

The Mentality of Apes

Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me

Dr. Strange: Sorceror Supreme

Nautical Notions for Nibbling

A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity

The Fake Revolt

Coup D'Etat

History of the Town of Felicity

Hood of Death

Dolls' House Bathrooms: Lots of Little Loos

Border Security / Anti-Infiltration Operations

Living on Light

God is for Real, Man

Did the Apostle Paul Visit Britain?

Twin Peaks


Power Phrases

The Truth About Wagner

The Life of the Bee


Science Looks at Smoking

The Chiricahuas

The New Dark Ages Conspiracy

The Big Question

Everybody's Book of Epitaphs

The Death of the Fuhrer


Gorbachev! Has the Real Antichrist Come?

The World's Worst Poet

Alyssa Milano: She's the Boss

Home is the Desert

Nine Lives: From Stripper to Schoolteacher

How to Start Your Own Country

How to Found Your Own Religion

Sex Objects in the Sky

Indian Oratory

Bastard Without Portfolio

The Bedside Book of Bastards

Hopeless -- Yet There Is Hope

Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand

Margie Asks WHY

Death of a Hippie

Wake Up or Blow Up

Feeling and Form


A Mile in His Moccasins

Mojave Desert Ramblings

Passing of the Outhouse

This Way to Happiness

The Happy Life

Young Only Once

The Monkey Gland Affair

Bert Bacharach's Book for Men

The Two Babylons

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes...

Why Christians Crack Up!

Why Do Christians Break Down?

Hava Nagila!

Beethoven or Bust

How to Abandon Ship

Livin' in Joe's World

The Last Democrat

Salvation Mountain

The Varmint and Crow Hunter's Bible

Love in the Western World

Jack the Ripper: Light-Hearted Friend

Little Men of the NFL

No One May Ever Have The Same Knowledge Again

The Secret Museum of Mankind

James Bond's World of Values

We Did Not Plummet Into Space

The Boy Who Didn't Believe IN CHRISTMAS

The Great Escape From Your Dead-End Job

All About Tipping

My Loser Godfrey

A Haircut in Horse Town

Mucusless Diet Healing System

Jefferson Returns

Lincoln Returns

Churchill Returns

Corporation Freak

Null Bock auf DDR

So You're Going on a Mission?

Nudes in My Camera

Why I Hate the Nazis

Flesh, Metal & Glass

The James Beard Cookbook

Mortal Refrains


Amy Grant: A Biography

The X Cars

We Were Five

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

Hello ... Wrong Number

I'll Kill You Next!

Murder in Vegas

Did MAN Just Happen?

Terror at the Atlanta Olympics

Criswell Predicts

Your Next Ten Years

They Pay Me to Catch Footballs

The Phantom Menace

Just For Fellows

The Lopsided Gal

Astrology and Horse Racing

The Cokesbury Stunt Book

The Origin of Things

Remarks on the History of Things

U.S. Government Sewing Book

Funeral Tributes II

Blinky, the Friendly Hen

The Serbs Choose War

My Mystery Castle


Funeral Customs the World Over

The Right to be Let Alone

Mormonism and the Negro

The Church and the Negro

Preacher with a Billy Club

Fighting Parson of the Old West

Invisibility: Mastering the Art of Vanishing

How to Disappear Completely

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man

Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch

Marlene Dietrich's ABC

The Bible in the Hands of Its Creators

The Real Deadwood

John Ames (2004)


The concentration of money in cow towns drew gamblers, thieves, "soiled doves" (prostitutes), flimflam artists—and killers, both the professional and the impulsive amateur. The gunfighter was a product of the Civil War and its brutal lessons in "easy-go killing." (3)

No matter how wide-open those early cow towns might have been, historians and frontier buffs alike agree: there was no hellhole quite as hellish as a gold-strike camp. "[Wyatt] Earp said gunmen in Deadwood were as proficient as in any western community, except possibly Tombstone." And both were gold-strike towns. (4)

After the war, however, railroads began a vigorous campaign to lure Americans, and especially naive immigrants, to the Plains. "Rain follows the plow!" insisted advertisements, promoting the widely accepted (and remarkably silly) belief that merely cultivating the soil would somehow stimulate rainfall. (11)

It's widely reported that a parade greeted the arrival of Wild Bill Hickok and Charlie Utter's wagon train in Deadwood in July 1876. But all those cheering men weren't welcoming Hickok. They were hooraying the arrival of Deadwood's first batch of whores, who were traveling in Hickok's party. (13)

Pregnancy was only one of the risks that prostitutes (soiled doves, or "sporting girls") faced. There was also the risk of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), physical abuse from customers and the hired help, and an alarmingly high suicide rate. The working life of a typical frontier prostitute was only a few years.
Contraception was fairly well understood by the 1870s (the birthrate fell from slightly over 7 children per couple in 1800 to only 4.4 by 1880). But the methods were notoriously unreliable. Condoms made from the lining of sheep intestines were available in the 1700s. They were not preformed to fit the man's penis, but rather, simply shaped like a handkerchief and held in place during the act. James Boswell, Dr. Johnson's biographer, complains bitterly about them in his comically frank London Journal.
Worse, they cost $1 apiece (around $25 today), which usually meant they were washed and used over. Because of their pleasure-robbing thickness, they were more commonly used in England and Europe than in the U.S. Particularly in frontier whorehouses, American males insisted on riding bareback."
Thus, the onerous reality of birth control fell to the woman. One device in widespread use was a contraceptive sponge with a thread attached so the sponge could be easily removed. Another method was douching with spermicides such as alum or zinc sulfate. "Female syringes" were sold for this purpose.
Perhaps most widely used was the pessary, or "pisser," a precursor of the modern diaphragm. Made of wood, cotton, or sponge, the pessary was sold as a medical device for correcting a prolapsed [out of place] uterus." But most women knew its real purpose even if men never caught on.
These methods varied in their effectiveness. But given the frequency of intercourse (a former .. Deadwood prostitute reported servicing twenty-eight men in one night), failures were common. Which might help explain why one in six pregnancies was aborted by the 1860s.
By the time Deadwood Gulch filled up, at least twenty-five different chemical abortifacients were widely available and openly sold under such euphemistic names as "infallible French female pills." Marc McCutcheon notes that surgical abortion was available by 1861 and cost $10 to $100. Unfortunately, many surgeons of that day still scoffed at Joseph Lister's insistence on the importance of disinfecting operating rooms and surgical equipment and many women died of postoperative infections. (24-6)

"Gone to bury my wife; be back in half an hour," read a note on the door of a prospector's shack in the 1860s, pretty much saying all that needs to be said about gold fever. (31)

Some folks with money to invest, but no common sense about mining, showed up at the goldfields hoping to buy an existing claim. It was child's play to covertly plant a few bright nuggets to catch their eye.
Some of these swindles were too outrageous to believe, and yet court records prove they worked. One miner planted not only gold but a cut diamond—and sold his claim! Another used the added lure of "fresh fruit" to sell a played out claim. He tied oranges, by small threads, to the branches of some nearby trees. The greenhorns he fleeced had no idea oranges weren't native to the area—or they were too gold-struck to think rationally. (41-2)

The Civil War bred unprecedented carnage and suffering. Many of those veterans on both sides were also afflicted with "soldier's heart"—that era's euphemism for post-traumatic stress disorder. Today, millions of Americans rely on psychopharmacology to help maintain normal behavior. Frontier Americans hadn't yet discovered Prince Valium and his descendants, a point made poignantly clear in Deadwood's portrayal of an emotionally disturbed Calamity Jane. (49)

Bullock logged an interesting journal entry while exploring Yellowstone: "Numerous hot hell holes, all smelling of sulfur ... Will recommend this country for religious revivals when I get back. Hell is sure close to the surface here." (64)

But sadly for the millions who would suffer and die because of his treatments, [Benjamin Rush] also believed that many contagious diseases, such as the terrible killer yellow fever, were caused by "noxious miasmas," or pockets of poisoned atmosphere."
For decades, because of Rush's widely disseminated ideas, cities like New Orleans fought the plague with artillery cannons aimed into the sky to "blast apart the miasma." But the miasma was not such a foolish theory in the pre-microbial world. They knew about epidemics, of course, and even learned that rodents and birds could spread diseases. But somehow the germ theory gained slow acceptance in America despite the proof of "animalcules" (microbes) as early as 1677. The atmosphere was the focus of evil, in Rush's view, not invisible pathogens. (82)

"The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera," scoffed Dr. Alfred Velpeau, a professor of medicine in Paris, only six years before the first demonstratin of etherized anesthesia. "It is absurd to go on seeking it. Knife and pain are two words in surgery that must forever be associated in the consciousness of the patient." (85-6)

Patent medicines were useless nostrums often laced with alcohol (Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, twenty percent alcohol and the most successful patent medicine of all time), opium (Tott's Teething Cordial, "Satisfies the Baby, pleases the Mother, gives rest to both"), and cocaine (Casseebeer's Coca-Calisaya, "Each tablespoon represents about one gramme of the best Peruvian Coca Leaves"). Wildly hyped as cure-aIls, they were the nation's first real mass-market advertising success.
However, "patent medicine" was a misnomer. Usually, only the shape of the bottle or the design of promotional material was patented. A patent on the actual formula would have revealed the drug and alcohol content—and many of patent medicines' most loyal customers were temperance ladies. (88-9)

The Cheyenne, cousins and battle allies of the Lakota, once painted their arrows blue to symbolize a sacred lake in these Black Hills. They called the hills simply Wakan Tanka, the "Great Mystery." (93)

Teddy [Roosevelt] got off to a shaky start in the cowboy arts. On one of his first cattle drives he attempted to "haze" the beeves with the shout, "Hasten forward quickly there!" The cowboys cracked up. (105)

A Pinkerton recorded this description of the Sundance Kid (Harry Alonzo Longabaugh): "32-5 ft 10.175—Med. Comp. Firm expression in face, German descent Combs his hair Pompadour, it will not lay smooth." (107)

Many who are tired of the old tintype cliches would like to know the real truth about Calamity Jane. Maybe it's just this simple: she was the American West's greatest bullshit artist ever. And that's saying an impressive mouthful.
She lived an interesting if hard life, and there seems little debate on the matter of her riding and shooting skills—she was "death to the devil." She was also another one of those courageous, compassionate unpaid nurses Deadwood produces in a pinch.
But the truth is, nobody knows much for certain about her—even Calamity's most scholarly biographer admits that right up front. Once the dime novelists and theater agents had latched onto her, Calamity Jane probably realized nobody wanted the truth. They wanted what we call today "the juice" and what people in Jane's era called "tossing in another grizzly."
Almost everything about Calamity Jane, from her real name and birthdate to her true marital status and relationship with Wild Bill Hickok, is in a confused moil because of Jane's "stretchers." The fact that we have only her word she was even married or ever a mother, for example, doesn't mean she wasn't. And that's the genius of her system if that's what it was: give the greenhorns just enough to build their damn hog-stupid legend on but not enough to prove "The White Devil of the Yellowstone" (another flashy name she gave herself) was an out-and-out bullshitter. (126-7)

Calamity Jane's hoodwinking of a willing press and public is funny and admirable not scandalous. Who can blame her for taking what was offered? She was one of the first masters of spin and of image control. Even today, naive writers report her manufactured stories as fact, never realizing they have been had by the best in the West—Calamity Jane, gold camp nurse and bullshit artist extraordinaire. And while she may have dressed like a man, here was a woman indeed. (138)

Custer's wife, Libbie, deeply in love with her dashing and famous soldier husband, nonetheless confessed, "I do not recall anything finer in the way of physical perfection than Wild Bill." Ellis Pierce, the Deadwood Gulch doc who helped Colorado Charlie wash the blood from the dead Hickok's hair, said, "Wild Bill was the prettiest corpse I have ever seen." (141)

The return of wagering to Deadwood has created a second boom, especially as much of the revenue funds historical preservation. But there's also been a joke going around since gaming returned about how lawyers have raised more buildings in Deadwood than contractors have.
It seems that South Dakota state law limits the number of gaming devices (slot machines, etc.) to "30 per building." That has led to some creative decisions by the gaming board as to what constitutes a "building," reported Scott Randolph in the April 13, 2004, issue of the Black Hills Pioneer. Decisions that might leave most building inspectors astounded. Such as a recent ruling that a casino was actually two "buildings" because ground radar showed fragments of old foundations under the casino! (161-2)

Buy this book

To Deuce of Clubs