In "American Gunfight: The Plot to Kill President Truman--and the Shoot-out That Stopped It" the authors' duty to assemble a historical record around a forgotten news event sometimes gets in the way of what is otherwise a gripping story.
This true tale of two committed Puerto Rican nationalists, who failed to assassinate then-President Harry Truman, renders the high hour of American imperialism. In its depiction of duty-bound, patriotic law enforcement officers, its revisits a type of American male mostly departed from the scene.
The gunfight designed to shed light on the plight of oppressed Puerto Rico, and gain the larger world's attention, lasted less than a minute.
The authors make up for this lack of material with portraits of the few players who starred in the violent drama.
For the most part, the renderings are too in-depth and arrest the narrative's progress. The same goes for the detailed discussion of guns, their types, and the ways they are fired.
Less nettlesome and better-crafted is the background information on the political fortunes of Puerto Rico and how these spawned the would-be assassins.
It is a testimony to the long-ago happening's allure that a reader probably wades through the sea of superfluous facts, to see how something they already know turned out, turned out. If you follow.
Nonetheless, Mssrs. Hunter and Bainbridge have done yeomans' work in creating a one-stop and shop nonfiction record of how things went down all those years ago.
Had they not dedicated themselves to the effort, this not-unimportant tragedy, its victims and heroes, would have been lost to the dustbin of history (as they say). Though, at times, taxing their own narrative, they triumph with the scholastic challenge "An American Gunfight" posed.
Best for readers really looking into the history of Puerto Rican politics.