Bobby BlueJacket: The Tribe, The Joint, The Tulsa Underworld illuminates a neglected history of American crime, identity, and politics in the 20th century. This is the extraordinary true story of a man who went from career thief to prison journalist to Eastern Shawnee activist. BlueJacket has been featured in Los Angeles Review of Books, Tulsa World, Weird History, Bustle, Crime Reads, This Land Press, and Public Radio Tulsa/NPR. The book was nominated for best non-fiction work for the 30th annual Oklahoma Book Awards.
“Insightful, angry, straightforward, reminiscent of the subterranean classic You Can’t Win by Jack Black—Daley’s BlueJacket pulls no punches describing a long life as fascinating as it is heartbreaking in its details.”
– Jack Womack, Random Acts of Senseless Violence and Elvissey
“This book is not only a fascinating and richly detailed biography of a wily child of the Great Depression who at an early age drifted into a life of serious crime and serious punishment, it is also an intimate portrait of his complex emotional and intellectual life. Bobby BlueJacket. The story is as good as the sound of his beautiful name.”
– Ron Padgett, Bean Spasms and Oklahoma Tough: My Father, King of the Tulsa Bootleggers
“It’s a compelling read, full of violence and heart.”
– Joshua Kline, This Land Press
“[A] rarity in literature—a history told by the defeated, but still unvanquished. As such, Daley has created an engrossing and unique story that will compel your attention from beginning to end.”
– Bryan Zepp Jamieson, Electric Review
“An amazing cultural history as much as it is a story of Bobby BlueJacket.”
– Rich Fisher, Public Radio Tulsa
“Each time I picked up Bobby BlueJacket, I got lost in its pages, even at the points where I was utterly horrified by what I read… I highly recommend this book for anyone and everyone, not only because it is fascinating, well-written, and incredibly well-researched, but because it provides layer upon layer of indispensable information told primarily through a first-person account of lived experiences. It’s the kind of narrative history we need more of, especially centering marginalized voices, especially today.”
– Samantha Puc, In Full Bleed
About the Book:
Bobby BlueJacket is the extraordinary true story of a career thief who first gained notoriety as a convicted teenaged killer. Based on over 5 years of research, the book draws from BlueJacket’s own memories, long-buried law enforcement and trial records, prison archives, news accounts, as well as interviews with others such as photographer Larry Clark and veteran reporters of Tulsa's mid-century crime beat.
Born in 1930, BlueJacket came of age as a Native American in white Oklahoma—passing through teenage rumbles, scheming pool halls, and Midwest safecracker crews. While incarcerated, he remade himself as a celebrated prison journalist. By the 1970s, he would act as a political impresario, used tire salesman, and prison rodeo emcee—ultimately becoming an Eastern Shawnee activist and respected tribal elder. At each turn, BlueJacket sought out success and self-definition by any means necessary. More than just an underworld tale—Bobby BlueJacket is an in-depth exploration of one man’s experience in a brutal post-war world.
Bobby BlueJacket is illustrated with almost 90 photographs from never-before-seen personal archives, as well as images from prison publications and newspaper clippings.
About the Author:
Michael P. Daley is a writer and cultural historian. His work largely concerns politics, subcultures, crime, and art. Daley’s previous books include Enjoy The Experience: Homemade Records 1958–1992, which was featured in BBC, NPR, Vice, Book Forum, Rolling Stone, and was called the greatest music book of the year by Los Angeles Magazine.