The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tillburg Clark

The Ox-Bow Incident

I chose this book as my Nevada pick for the 52 Books Around the USA Book Challenge.  Clark’s classic novel is a look at the morality of justice through the eyes of a mob.  In the opening chapter, word gets out that some cattle have been stolen and a man was shot.  Like most stories that get passed along, this one grows.  Before long the man was not only shot, but shot and killed in the head – an even more heinous and unforgivable crime that cattle rustling.

The sheriff is away and rather than wait on his return, a group of local citizens decide to form a posse and go after the culprits.  Predictably, the posse (or mob), come upon a group of three men with the suspicious cattle and decide the take the law into their own hands.

This is the kind of book that merits examination by high school students, along with The Lottery and The Lord of the Flies.  I didn’t enjoy much of it until the last half of the novel, so it was a good thing it was short.  So many times classic novels become just another story we’ve heard in any number of movies and television shows today.  We become immune to them.  The Ox-Bow Incident is no exception.  The characters were stereotyped and the story was nothing new for me.

3 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1940
288 pages


About Suzanne

I'm a stay-at-home mom with three kids who loves to read.
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