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Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie - Book Review

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt
Published July 31st 2018
What became of the Bloody Benders?
Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Harold Schechter, true crime, crime, American history

Laura Ingalls Rider's Little House on the Prairie series of books about her childhood in the American Midwest have become children's classics and spawned a popular TV series. However, as the author herself wrote in her later life, these tales of rural life were "not the whole truth". While Ingalls Wilder did include many of the hardships her family faced, she left out stories that she considered inappropriate for children. One such story was that of the inn between her family's homestead and the nearby town and the horrible deeds committed there. It was home to the infamous Bender family, known as the "Bloody Benders" who murdered travellers, stole their money and buried the bodies in their apple orchard.

Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie is written by Harold Schlechter, author of popular true crime books such as Deranged: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Fiendish Killer. It is part of Schecter's Bloodlands collection; six chilling short works about true crimes in America's history, available through Amazon. At just 80 pages ,it's a quick read. I found it a little dry in places, despite the lurid subject matter, but it was thorough and quite interesting overall. Schecter covers not just the murders themselves, but the way they were sensationalised at the time, with people flocking to the site of the crimes to steal souvenirs. He also writes about the mystery surrounding the Bender's ultimate fate and the many contradictory reports about what happened to them.

Little Slaughterhouse on the Prairie
is a short tale about a relatively little known gruesome chapter in American history. It will probably appeal most to true crime fans.

Published: June 2018
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