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Nancy Taniguchi Reading: Feb. 16


Fake news?  Western vigilantes?  Developers gone wild?  They will all share in the storyline on Feb. 16 when Nancy J. Taniguchi reads from her new book – “Dirty Deeds: Land, Violence and the San Francisco Vigilance Committee” – at Portland’s Chaparral Books.


Taniguchi, a history professor emerita at Cal State-Stanislaus, has re-examined a pivotal era in Bay Area history when ownership of the waterfront was up for grabs.


After a county official shot a caustic newspaperman in 1856, 30 merchants formed the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance. It’s goal:  to gain control of key waterfront properties in San Francisco, the most valuable real estate on the West Coast.


Casting itself as a necessary surrogate for inept law enforcement, the vigilantes fed biased stories to the local papers, and, when necessary, resorted to kidnapping, forced deportations and murder.



Armed with the secret minutes of the Vigilance Committee’s meetings, Taniguchi presents the first clear picture of its actions and motivations: A band of men took over a city in its quest to control its profits and destiny.


Those actions affected future land grabs and legal proceedings for the next decade, and offer historical insight into the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County.


Taniguchi specializes in Pacific trade, mining history and the American West.  Her previous book, “Castle Valley, America: Hard Land, Hard-won Home,” won the 2005 best-book award from the Utah State Historical Society.


Her February 16 reading of “Dirty Deeds” is scheduled for noon at Chaparral.  The bookstore is located at 1975 Southwest 1st Avenue, Suite L, at the east edge of Lovejoy Fountain Park.



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