Writers’ Wednesday – Imposing Order without Law

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Event Series Event Series: Writers’ Wednesday

May 10, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Writers’ Wednesday

May 10, 2023
5:00 – 5:30 pm – Book signing and wine/cheese Reception
5:30 – 6:30 pm – Lecture

This month’s book is called “Imposing Order without Law” with author Michael J. Makley who will discuss his latest book from the University of Nevada Press.

Imposing Order without Law book
Imposing Order without Law book

Summary of Talk

In the 1850s, early Euro-American settlers established two remote outposts on the slopes of the eastern Sierra Nevada, both important way stations on the central emigrant trail. The Carson Valley settlement was located on the western edge of the Utah Territory, while the Honey Lake Valley hamlet, 120 miles north, fell within California’s boundaries but was separated from the rest of the state by the formidable mountain range. Although these were some of the first white communities established in the region, both areas had long been inhabited by Indigenous Americans. Carson Valley had been part of Washoe Indian territory, and Honey Lake Valley was a section of Northern Paiute land.

Michael Makley explores the complexities of this turbulent era, when the pioneers’ actions set the stage for both valleys to become part of national incorporation. With deft writing and meticulously researched portrayals of the individuals involved, including the Washoe and Northern Paiute peoples, Imposing Order Without Law focuses on the haphazard evolution of “frontier justice” in these remote outposts. White settlers often brought with them their own ideas of civil order. Makley’s work contextualizes the extralegal acts undertaken by the settlers to enforce edicts in their attempt to establish American communities.

Makley’s book reveals the use and impact of group violence, both within the settlements and within the Indigenous peoples’ world, where it transformed their lives.

Author Bio

Michael J. Makley
Michael J. Makley

Michael J. Makley is the author of eight books on western history, including A Short History of Lake Tahoe; Saving Lake Tahoe: An Environmental History of a National Treasure; and Cave Rock: Climbers, Courts, and a Washoe Indian Sacred Place, which he coauthored with his son, Matthew S. Makley.

The Writers’ Wednesday Lecture Series, held the second Wednesday of each month, features a different author who takes part in a book signing, a presentation and a question-and-answer session with the audience. A wine and cheese reception precedes the lecture.

The intent of the program is to highlight writers who specifically focus on Nevada, the Great Basin, or the West in general. The authors talk about the content of their books but also share details about the creative process.

Make sure to arrive early as we have limited seating available in our Event Space. Don’t forget, we provide free, temporary parking permits to make it easier to visit NHS!


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1650 N. Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89503 United States
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Phone: 775-688-1190