Power’s War – A Review

10 Jul

There is a mythology to the American West. It involves people living a life of complete freedom without the restraints of established society and government. If a problem needs to be handled, then it is handled by individuals. When the dust settles, the good guys have beaten the bad guys, and the life of complete freedom continues.

Filmmaker Cameron Trejo exposes this myth with Power’s War, a documentary that chronicles a tragic event in the wilds of Arizona.Power

Jeff Power settled his family near Klondyke, Arizona and, as thousands of people had done for decades, attempted to find fortune in a mineshaft. It was a harsh life of backbreaking work and isolation. For daughter Ola May, it was too much isolation, and she died mysteriously. For Jeff, it was too little isolation, and the world encroached on his plans.

The myth of the American West leads us to believe that people who lived in the region did so without the shackles of life in the east. This falsehood discounts the mountain men who worked for fur companies based in eastern cities; the cowboys who rode for cattle companies owned by London stockholders; and the miners who worked for huge mining companies.

For historians, it is difficult to peel back the layers of the myth and teach people about the realities of the West. Unfortunately, Jeff Power learned of those realities in the most tragic of ways. His family may have lived in a remote wilderness, but they were connected to a larger world.

In 1917, the United States entered World War I, and a patriotic fervor gripped the nation. Men registered for the draft, but Jeff and his sons, John and Tom, thought the war was secondary to their mining claim. Why should they fight a war in a foreign land when the land they were on held the potential for prosperity?

On February 10, 1918, lawmen looking for the draft dodgers surrounded the Power cabin. The resulting shootout, the largest in Arizona history, has been largely forgotten. The complete story will not be told in this review. That would take away from the need to watch this excellent documentary.

Trejo uses interviews, sweeping panoramas and the touch of a graphic novelist to tell the stories of the Power family and others who were affected by the events. Their tales are tragic, but they provide the perfect example of the western experience. It was not romantic. It was not good guys versus bad guys. It was people trying to survive in a harsh world while the rest of the world pushed its way in.

Cameron Trejo tells the story of a family living in a canyon near Klondyke, Arizona, but he is also telling the story of the American West.

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8 Responses to “Power’s War – A Review”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong July 10, 2015 at 23:20 #

    Print The Legend tends to rule. This looks like a very limited theatrical release, so I’ll check around and see if it is playing anywhere. If not, it’ll get to cable soon enough.

    • Rick July 10, 2015 at 23:46 #

      I will check with them about the distribution.

  2. jcalberta July 11, 2015 at 17:23 #

    Looking for draft dodgers ? Now that would be a no fun job.
    Yet I’m thinking there’s still plenty that went on beyond the scrutiny of Authority. It’s BIG out there.

    • Rick July 11, 2015 at 21:56 #

      The documentary makes you wonder why they went after two guys in Arizona when there were 3 million who did not register.

      • Marilyn Armstrong July 11, 2015 at 22:02 #

        Because it was easier to kill two guys than 3 million?

      • Rick July 11, 2015 at 22:07 #

        Good point

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Power's War (2015) | MissLiberty.com - July 24, 2015

    […] “On February 10, 1918, lawmen looking for the draft dodgers surrounded the Power cabin. The resulting shootout, the largest in Arizona history, has been largely forgotten. The complete story will not be told in this review. That would take away from the need to watch this excellent documentary.” –SBI […]

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