By Deanne Stillman
It is opposed to the backdrop of those competing visions of land and area that Donald Kueck - a desolate tract hermit who enjoyed animals and hated civilization - took his final stand, gunning down liked deputy sheriff Steven Sorensen while he approached his trailer at excessive midday on a hot summer season day. because the sound of rifle hearth echoed around the Mojave, Kueck took off into the wilderness he knew so good, kicking off the most important manhunt in smooth California heritage until eventually he used to be eventually killed in a Wagnerian firestorm less than an entire moon as nuns at a close-by convent watched and prayed.
This manhunt used to be the topic of a largely praised article by means of Deanne Stillman, first released in Rolling Stone, a finalist for a PEN heart united states journalism award, and incorporated within the anthology top American Crime Writing 2006. In Desert Reckoning she keeps her desolate tract beat and makes use of Kueck's tale as some degree of departure to additional discover our courting to put and the wars which are enjoying out on our fatherland. furthermore, Stillman additionally delves into the hidden historical past of l. a. County, and lines the trails of 2 males on a collision path which may purely lead to the trendy Wild West. Why did a super, self-taught rocket scientist who simply desired to be left on my own burst off the rails whilst a cop confirmed up? What position did the California criminal process play during this drama? What occurs to humans while the yankee dream is stripped away? and what's it like for the boys who're sworn to guard and serve?
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Extra info for A Desert Reckoning: A Town Sheriff, a Mojave Hermit, and the Biggest Manhunt in Modern California History
We’re down to what’s known in this business as dead or alive,” he said, and soon flyers bearing the ancient message were plastered across the Mojave. BREACHING A HERMIT KINGDOM You talkin’ to me? —Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver NOBODY KNOWS WHY DEPUTY SHERIFF STEVE SORENSEN decided to drive onto Donald Kueck’s property on Saturday, August 2, 2003. It was Sorensen’s day off, but when a neighbor of Kueck’s called him that morning, the deputy said no problem, he’d come right over, as he always did if someone on his remote desert beat had a need.
The valley is flat, surrounded on all sides by mountains and buttes; across its floor, vegetation is sparse, dotted with creosote and the occasional Joshua tree. In the relentless white daylight of the summer sun, there is no place to hide, except tunnels and mine shafts, or under or behind a rock. From any direction, you are completely exposed and vulnerable. If you are wearing a uniform, you are broadcasting a message that is generally not welcome in this part of the desert—and as you traverse the sands, someone may be watching you through a rifle scope from hundreds of yards away.
In the morning, his eyes opened, and it was not the frothing heads of Cerberus he beheld but another infinite and wrenching Mojave sunrise. He cursed the Devil for giving him more time and climbed out of his grave. “Motherfucker,” he called across the empty bajada. ” Then he retreated into his wretched little trailer where the temperature sometimes reached 110 degrees. Like all living things in the desert heat, he remained still—but unlike many of them, his mind did not. (Later, when it was all over, his sister, a nurse in the navy, would suggest that perhaps he was suffering from a brain tumor—how else to explain his peculiar degeneration in the desert?
A Desert Reckoning: A Town Sheriff, a Mojave Hermit, and the Biggest Manhunt in Modern California History by Deanne Stillman