Early Oklahoma was a haven for violent outlaws and a death trap for deputy U.S. marshals. The infamous Doolin gang's OK Hotel gunfight left five dead. Killers like Bible-quoting choir leader Deacon Jim Miller wreaked havoc. Gunslinger femme fatale Belle Starr specialized in horse theft. Wannabe outlaws like Al Jennings traded train robbing for politics and Hollywood films. And Elmer McCurdy's determination and inept skill earned him a carnival slot and the nickname "the Bandit Who Wouldn't Give Up."
Historians Robert Barr Smith and Laurence J. Yadon dispel myths surrounding some of the most significant lawbreakers in Sooner history.
Robert Barr Smith, a commentator and published authority on military history and legal writing, is a professor emeritus at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Smith, a retired U.S. Army colonel, lives on Missouri's Table Rock Lake.
Laurence J. Yadon is an attorney, mediator and arbitrator with a lifelong interest in Oklahoma and criminal history. Yadon has investigated litigation issues for the Department of Justice and helped prepare a case successfully argued before the Supreme Court. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.