Diana Gabaldon & A California Bandit

Caught your attention with that headline, didn’t I? Diana Gabaldon wrote the introduction for John Rollin Ridge’s The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta: The Celebrated California BanditOnce you know the story of Murieta, the background of the book, and learn about Gabaldon’s interest in it, you might want to order a copy through the Web Store. https://bit.ly/2J2ybSf


Here’s the book summary from the Web Store.

The first novel to feature a Mexican American hero: an adventure tale about Mexicans rising up against U.S. rule in California, based on the real-life bandit who inspired the creation of Zorro, the Lone Ranger, and Batman

With a new foreword by Diana Gabaldon, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander series

An action-packed blend of folk tale, romance, epic, and myth, The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta tells the story of the Gold Rush-era Mexican immigrant Joaquín Murieta, whose efforts to find fortune and happiness are thwarted by white settlers who murder his family and drive him off his land. In retaliation, Murieta organizes a band of more than 2,000 outlaws–including the sadistic “Three-Fingered Jack”–who take revenge by murdering, stealing horses, and robbing miners, all with the ultimate goal of reconquering California.

The first novel written by a Native American and the first novel published in California, The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta speaks to the ways in which ethical questions of national security and racialized police violence have long been a part of U.S. history. This edition features excerpts from popular rewritings of the novel, including Johnston McCulley’s first novel about Zorro, The Curse of Capistrano (also known as The Mark of Zorro).


Barbara Peters, owner of the Poisoned Pen, had this to say.

Ridge, John Rollin. The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta (Penguin Classic $17). Signed not by Ridge who died in 1867 and wrote this, his only novel, in 1854, but by Diana Gabaldon who has written a compelling Foreword I recommend to all—her discussion of what being called “Mexican” as well as considerations about the outlaw hero are two components.

You T. Jefferson Parker fans will be familiar with Joaquín Murieta and his famous head in a bottle. You may even be familiar with the thought that this novel based on a real life bandit-hero “inspired the creation of Zorro, the Lone Ranger, and Batman” although I’m not sure about Batman. Still… Murieta operated in California during the Gold Rush when incoming white boomers murdered his family and pushed him off his land. Murieta organized a band of more than 2000 outlaws to strike back, robbing, rustling, and murdering with the goal of taking back California…. Ridge’s book is both “the first novel written by a Native American (Cherokee) and the first novel published in California.” And it’s still a rousing adventure read.

Hsuan L. Hsu supplies a detailed Introduction presenting both period and publishing history with footnotes and a useful Suggestions for Further Reading section. This edition features some rewritings including “The Curse of Capistrano,” aka “The Mark of Zorro.” At a time when conversations ring about identity, Ridge and Gabaldon speak powerfully to us.


If you read Gabaldon’s books, you might want to read the story she wrote about her parents. You’ll understand why she’s interested. You can find “Myth and Mountain Birthdays” on her website at https://bit.ly/2u2qRBz