Unsettling Settlement 

As much as we love our city and defend it against its detractors, there's no denying we have a bit of a problem involving murder and mayhem. St. Louis' violent crime rates remain way too high, but study Missouri's history and you'll put things in context fast. There's nothing new under the bloody sun, it turns out. Ask Joe Johnston, author of a new book titled Necessary Evil: Settling Missouri with a Rope and a Gun. Johnston set out to investigate the implications of vigilantism throughout Missouri in the wild and woolly 19th century. His contention -- controversial to some, no doubt -- is that our state could never have been settled without the rough but effective justice meted out by vigilantes. You can hear Johnston discuss his new book tonight at 7 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org), and debate his thesis if you choose. Just leave your guns at home, Bill. The event is free.
Wed., Oct. 22, 7 p.m., 2014

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