Hatchet Men: The Story of the Tong Wars in San Francisco's Chinatown


Richard Dillon, one of California's premier historians, tells the compelling story of San Francisco's exotic pre-1906 Chinatown when vicious hoodlum gangs held sway. Chinatown, as demonstrated by Dillon's fast-paced narrative, became a cauldron of chaos teeming with thugs, prostitutes, gamblers, and warlords preying on scores of helpless victims. As the Tong Wars ripped through San Francisco's Chinatown, the Chinese inhabitants lived under a reign of terror. Opium was abundant as were "slave girls," women imported for the purpose of prostitution. Hatchet-wielding killers silenced any opposition. It was a lurid and violent chapter in American history-and, in an era when the customs of an Asian people were considered foreign and frightening to begin with, the very word "Chinatown" came to suggest the mysterious, the sinister. The truth that survived the earthquake of 1906 was both colorful and tragic. Richard Dillon exposes the plight of the Chinese "average man," trapped between the Tongs that terrorized and cast their shadow over him, and a government that disastrously misunderstood him. Richard H. Dillon has written more than 20 books about California and the West.

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