The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark (Signet Classics)

The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter van Tilburg Clark

As the back of the book proclaims, The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark “is a searing study of mob justice.” It’s a critical indictment of humankind’s drive toward “justice,” along with the mob mentality it provokes. And all of this is wrapped inside what at first glance appears to be a Western.

Yes, there are gunslingers and cattle rustlers and duals and horseback treks through the wilderness, but The Ox-Bow Incident simply uses the trappings of the American Western to dive deep into the darker recesses of human instinct and to reveal something profound about humanity. It’s a true classic.

First published in 1940, The Ox-Bow Incident was Walter Van Tilburg Clark’s first novel. It was adapted for film in 1943, and the resulting movie ended up nominated for an Academy Award.

The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter van Tilburg Clark

The cover we’re showing here is simply fantastic. It shows a group of men preparing to hang another man. The victim is in color, while the accusers standing behind him are simply outlined in black. In the foreground is a white noose.

Unfortunately, the cover artist is not credited, and we were unable to discover who it might have been in our research. It’s a pity, because art this great should be credited.

As a classic that’s been reprinted dozens of times, The Ox-Bow Incident has been published with several other covers. Below is a more recent cover published by The Modern Library.

The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter van Tilburg Clark