Culture & Criticism Since 2003
The Life & Adventures of Joaquin Murieta was the very first novel to feature a Mexican American hero, telling the story of this Mexican immigrant who lived during the Gold Rush. After Murieta’s family is killed and his property pillaged by white settlers, he turns ruthless, organizing a gang of bandits who seek to take back the land that they believed rightly belonged to their people. Ridge’s writing stands out here: At once action- packed yet simultaneously introspective and insightful, he was writing for every powerless man who ends up exploited by agents for the government. Even though The Life & Adventures of Joaquin Murieta was initially published in 1854, it is still undeniably relevant today: The cartels over-running Mexico and streaming into California see themselves in part as descendants of Ridge’s Murieta – murdering and stealing because they feel their collective governors have left them no other life. Wildly evocative and richly cinematic, it’s no surprise that The Life & Adventures of Joaquin Murieta was the catalyst for the television epics Zorro, Batman and The Lone Ranger.