King Con: The Story of Soapy Smith

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Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith was a Western crook with the gift of organization. A southern charmer and a master of the bait and switch, he was a confidence man who dressed like a judge, sat on a horse like a prince, and spoke like a bishop. He honed his skills in Texas and Colorado. Gradually he gathered shills and toughs around him, and commanded his gang of "lambs" as a colonel might command a battalion. When the Klondike Gold Rush began in 1897, he knew that the tenderfeet headed for northern goldfields would be ripe for the picking, and chose raw, lawless Skagway as his headquarters. In this bleak settlement at the head of Alaska's Lynn Canal, he constructed an empire that any Mafia don might envy. However, less than a year later, the town had had enough of Soapy. This is a rip-snorting portrait of the rise to power of a man without a conscience. It reveals the strong-arm robberies, bloody trail murders, illegitimate businesses, rigged card games, and garish, candle-lit honky-tonks of the Gold Rush, illustrated with period photographs that show Soapy and his gang from their glory days to his autopsy in 1898.

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