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The Natchez Trace is remarkable in American history for the legends and tales surrounding it. During the first half of the nineteenth century, travelers--traders, settlers, and the occasional war party or fugitive from justice--followed its course from the Appalachians to the lower Mississippi, from Knoxville to Natchez. In this vibrant and energetic account, the author has mined both history and legend for startling tales of the near-mythical thieves, cutthroats, and confidence men once reported to have stalked their unsuspecting victims along this frontier trail--the terrible Harpe brothers, who came to a satisfactorily bad end; Samuel Mason, a thief done in by other thieves; and John Murrell, whose reputed schemes threw the South into a paroxysm of fear. Robert M. Coates retells the stories of these and other "land pirates" in chilling and ominous detail, preserving for us the tales once whispered on the edges of the dark southern woods nearly two centuries ago.