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"Blood and Gold: The Legend of Joaquín Murrieta", the book by Peter Murrieta and Jeffrey J. Marriotte
Blood and Gold: The Legend of Joaquín Murrieta, a new book by Peter Murrieta and Jeffrey J. Marriotte 

'Blood and Gold: The Legend of Joaquín Murrieta,' a family story

Experienced Hollywood screenwriter and producer, Peter Murrieta, published a new historical novel about the famous Mexican outlaw.

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Joaquin Murrieta was a romantic and charismatic young Mexican who, overcome by fear that his beloved Rosita would be forced into an arranged marriage, convinced her to join him as he followed his brother Jesus to the California gold fields. There they faced prejudice, hatred and explosive violence. These experiences turned Joaquin, an honest, hard-working miner, into a bandit and towards the very spirit of revenge.

The novel captures the harsh, often brutal, but transformative era of the California Gold Rush, when treasure hunters flocked from around the world to claim the state's untold riches. It is a gripping story of love and romance, greed and fear, and a clash of cultures that still resonates today. 

While there have been numerous books (both fiction and non-fiction) about the life of Joaquin Murrieta — the notorious outlaw of the California Gold Rush era — there has never been a book like this one, as it blends historical fact with the family accounts of Peter Murrieta, a direct descendant of Joaquin. 

AL DÍA spoke with Murrieta about the book and the family history that links him to the protagonist: 

How much fiction and how much reality is in Joaquin Murrieta's character?

A large component of Joaquin’s success as a real life outlaw and a character of folklore is that he crafted and perpetuated the mysterious stories about himself while he was alive. It was part of his revenge tactics, and it made him attractive to his people and to storytellers throughout the ages. It’s why he is purported to be the inspiration for modern day characters like Zorro, the Cisco Kid and Batman. We know that, at the height of his notoriety in 1853, he was feared and revered throughout the entire state of California, according to newspapers of the time. Yet, who can really tell what is fact and what is fiction?

As one of the stories, goes… We say that, sometimes, when injustice is done, and when violence rears its head, someone that looks a LOT like Joaquin is there, those eyes of the Avenging Angel flashing righteous anger and taking note of the faces of those that need vengeance thrust upon them.

Is Murrieta an ancestor of your family?

I have always been told that Joaquin is a great, great, great, great ancestor of mine. My “five greats back” grandfather. In my family, the oldest male in every generation is named Joaquin. This includes my dad and my first son. 

Is this story tied to your own family history?

Yes, the stories of Joaquin have been passed down through the generations of my family, from grandparents, aunts, uncles, my father, to me and then my sons. We were brought up on Joaquin stories. We heard tales of how he stood up for the less fortunate. How clever and inventive he was. How he buried gold all over California and someday someone would find his fortune. About the horrible things he was forced to endure. And about how he always found a way to survive. Whenever life knocked the Murrietas down, we had the legend of Joaquin to help us get back up again. If he could keep fighting back, so can we.

During the writing and investigation, what did you learn about the role of Mexicans in the gold rush?

We were unwanted strangers in a strange land. Nine months earlier, California was part of Mexico, and now it wasn’t. And then the riches were discovered. In December 1848, President Polk declared that gold had fallen from the sky. This started the Gold Rush. It was a time of blood, dirt and violence. Along with the white men who came to mine the gold came the forces and muscle to keep those riches in the hands of the whites. History tells us that these are the things that happen when “a new frontier is settled.” I’m glad that a lot of that history is being reclaimed and being written about and published in our time.

Has history been fair with their role?

NO! Trick question?

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