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Like the tentacles of an octopus, the railroad in California reached out across the state, grasping everything of value in the state. Based on the bloody Mussel Slough Tragedy--a conflict between wheat farmers and the Southern Pacific Railroad--The Octopus is a stunning novel chronicling the twilight of the frontier West, a depiction of the tensions between the railroad, the ranchers, and the ranchers' League. The book emphasizes the control of "forces"--such as the power of railroad monopolies--over individuals. No one was ...

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