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Killing Cynthia Ann - Sarah L. Johnson, Historical Fiction


Killing Cynthia Ann

by Charles Brashear . Publication: 1999 Texas A & M Univ Pr.

Book Description: In 1836, nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker, daughter of a Texas Ranger, was kidnapped by a Comanche war party. She married a Comanche chief and bore as a son the Comanche leader Quanah Parker. In 1860, Cynthia was “rescued” by Texas Rangers, and proceeded to live with various relatives, but she knew no English and the white culture was alien, even repugnant, to her. Brashear spends much time with Cynthia’s sad interior life, which at last descends into madness. He refuses to sugarcoat or ennoble the story, thereby limiting his audience, but his faithfulness to the historical record rivals even Robson’s version. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


To the Last Man

by Zane Grey . Publication: 2008 Tor Books.

Book Description: Cattlemen versus sheepmen in Arizona. [As cited in

Diana Tixier Herald & Wayne Wiegand (editor), Genreflecting

]

Also Described: What Grey calls the Jorth-Isbel feud is, except for Grey’s romantic constructs, carefully based on the historical Pleasant Valley Feud. It’s a fight between cattlemen and sheepmen, exacerbated when Lee Jorth steals away Gaston Isbel’s sweetheart while Gaston is off fighting in the Civil War. A generation later, Ellen Jorth tries to be vengeful like a true Jorth, but her love for Jean Isbel is stronger; the nobility of women bids fair to end the feud. Fine nature writing — Ellen is a sort of elemental force in concert with the wilderness — and fast-moving action scenes also distinguish the tale. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


The Gates of the Alamo

by Stephen M. Harrigan . Publication: 2001 Penguin Group USA.

Book Description: At the 75th anniversary of the siege of the Alamo, Terrell Mott, aged ninety-one in 1911, reminisces about the events leading up to that fateful day. At the center of Harrigan's story are three proud individuals. Edmund McGowan, a naturalist, finally gets up the courage to stand for what he believes in. Mary Mott, Terrell's widowed mother, maintains an inn along the Gulf Coast. Her son, sixteen-year-old Terrell, has a tragic love affair that drives him into the heart of the conflict. Historical personages like David Crockett, James Bowie, Sam Houston, and Mexican General Santa Anna play secondary roles but are well characterized nonetheless. Harrigan strips the mythology from the 1836 siege of the Alamo in this historically based account. Spur Award; Western Heritage Award. [As cited in

Sarah L. Johnson, Historical Fiction

]

Also Described: For the casual historian, there could be no better place to read about the Texas holy-of-holies. Harrigan carefully recreates history so that only the most jealous of scholars could find fault, bringing to life a sick Bowie, a young and impetuous Travis, and a cruel, but far from stereotypical, Santa Ana ?" a man fascinated with the commercial potential of chewing gum. But Harrigan’s success in bringing the mythic battle to life really comes from his marvelous love story between a lifelong celibate, a gentle botanist named Edmund McGowan, and a widowed innkeeper, Mary Mott. Though both try to stay out of the fight for independence (Edmund is employed by the Mexican government), they journey together in pursuit of Mary’s teenage son, Terrell, and find themselves at the Alamo. They do not consummate their love, but are joined in a thousand kindnesses, selfless acts, and suffering. Harrigan is perfectly unglorious in his portrait of privations in the Mexican army, the carnage of battle, and the warts of heroes, but his Alamo shines gloriously, even so. Both a Spur and a Western Heritage award winner. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


Fearless

by Lucia St. Clair Robson . Publication: 1999 Random House.

Book Description: Sarah Bowman, a six-foot, red-haired Amazon of a woman, signs on as a laundress and cook during General Zachary Taylor's campaign to win Texas from Mexico in 1845. Despite the death of her husband before the Mexican War begins, Sarah forges on, making a home for herself on and off the battlefield. Kind, tough, and compassionate, such is the strength of Sarah's personality that Taylor's troops dub her “the Great Western.” [As cited in

Sarah L. Johnson, Historical Fiction

]

Also Described: On the whole Robson does a superb job bringing to life her six-foot, red-headed heroine, historical personage Sarah Bowman. Bowman, an army widow, travels overland in primitive northern Mexico to take up her job as laundress for Zachary Taylor’s army in the Mexican War. Sarah is also a seamstress, a procurer, a wife once more, and even a soldier. She’s lusty. Men are awed by her. But mostly Sarah is kind, particularly to an unfortunate Mexican girl, who becomes like a sister. In her boundless admiration, Robson teeters on portraying a superwoman, but fortunately Sarah’s grittiness, and Robson’s admirable command of the details of army life, always reassert themselves. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


Destry Rides Again

by Max Brand . Publication: 1987 Thorndike Pr.

Book Description: Not like the motion picture that took the title. [As cited in

Diana Tixier Herald & Wayne Wiegand (editor), Genreflecting

]

Also Described: Brand’s Harry Destry has little to do with the one in the movies. He’s the worthless, though rather amiable, town bully, and none too bright. He’s railroaded off to prison, and only his sweetheart is sorry. Where the novel does resemble the movie is that when Destry returns, he seems meek and harmless, a broken man. Of course, this is only a pose. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


Spanish Peaks

by Jon Chandler . Publication: 1998 Loveland Pr.

Book Description: Old-time Westerner Sam Tate, the compadre in an earlier day of Kit Carson, wants only to live in peace in beautiful southern Colorado. But when Sam’s daughter and her family are murdered, Sam must go after the killers. It’s the code of the West, but Sam’s sad reluctance to embrace such heartbreak so late in life, and the beautiful, intimate evocation of southern Colorado, sets Chandler’s novel apart from an ordinary revenge tale. A Spur winner. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


Back to Malachi

by Robert J Conley . Publication: 1997 Leisure Books.

Book Description: Conley’s first novel is about Charlie Black, a young half-breed who must choose between the white way, which is what his father and girlfriend want, or the wild way, which his friends want. The white way seems, for a Cherokee, like capitulation; but the wild way spells doom. Charlie’s guide for what a young man must do may lie with an old full-blood up in the hills, Malachi. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


At War With Mexico

by Bruce Cutler . Publication: 2001 Univ of Oklahoma Pr.

Book Description: More of a prose poem than a novel, Cutler’s meditation on the Mexican War pulls together actual and precisely imagined documents to portray a pivotal time, when America developed a philosophy of “manifest destiny” to explain simple greed, and dressed up racism as science, because “manifest destiny” required suppression of Mexicans, blacks, and Native Americans. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


Fugitive Trail

by Zane Grey . Publication: 2000 Thomas t Beeler.

Book Description: In this Cain and Abel story, good brother Bruce Lockhart takes the rap for a robbery for his weak brother, Barse. He gives up his beloved Trinity Spencer to his brother as well — or so he thinks. Texas Rangers pursue Bruce relentlessly, and Grey’s portrait of Lockhart’s ordeal in the wild, particularly as he crosses the Staked Plains of West Texas, is the best part of the novel. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


Henry Plummer

by Frank Bird Linderman . Publication: 2000 Univ of Nebraska Pr.

Book Description: Linderman (1869–1938) was respected for his nonfiction about the West, but this novel, written in 1920, failed to reach print. It’s a dramatization of the life of Henry Plummer, a road agent and crooked sheriff who preyed upon miners during Montana’s gold rush, and who experienced his comeuppance when vigilantes turned on him. Linderman’s awkward style and stilted dialogue are made up for by his access to primary sources; Plummer emerges as a fascinating opportunist and sociopath with a romantic streak. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


The Sea of Grass

by Conrad Richter . Publication: 1992 Ohio Univ Pr.

Book Description: The classic Sea of Grass uses some of the elements of formulaic fiction: larger-than-life characters, gunfights, and a conflict between farmers and cattlemen. But in this case the quintessential cattle baron, Col. Jim Brewton, is right: the sea of grass is an irreplaceable resource. Farmers may succeed for a few seasons, but then drought will come. Thus Brewton is not just the violent protector of his own land, but of nature herself, and the farmers are hardly more than rats. Into this mix Richter weaves Brewton’s very modern wife, Lutie, a high-strung Easterner. Lutie cannot bear the lonely life and has an affair with another man, the district attorney Brice Chamberlain, whose legal maneuverings allow the entry of the settlers. Lutie is banished for many years, while Brewton raises Brock, Lutie and Bryce’s son. And yet Bryce and Lutie and Brock are not evil, merely inevitable; and while they betray the patriarch, in the end they also demonstrate his wisdom. Made into a fine movie. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]

Also Described: In addition to the novels comprising the trilogy collectively called The Awakening Land, Richter also wrote this lovely but at the same time tight and sinewy novel, also set in the American West, which imparts a resonant picture of the struggle between cattlemen and farmers laying claim to and using the vast lands of the wide-open West. [As cited in

Brad Hooper, Read On?Historical Fiction

]


Growing Up Native American

by Patricia Riley (editor) . Publication: 1993 Harpercollins.

Book Description: Riley collects memoirs, short stories, and novel excerpts depicting the Native American experience of childhood and coming of age, including poet Simon Ortiz’s scholarly meditation, “The Language We Know,” Basil Johnston’s account of an Indian school, “A Day in the Life of Spanish,” and delightful contemporaneous pieces such as Luther Standing Bear’s “At Last I Kill a Buffalo.” [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


Doc

by Mary Doria Russell . Publication: 2011 Random House Inc.

Book Description: After the burned body of mixed-blood boy Johnnie Sanders is discovered in 1878 Dodge City, Kansas, part-time policeman Wyatt Earp enlists the help of his professional-gambler friend Doc Holliday, in a novel that also features Doc's girlfriend, the Hungarian prostitute Kate Katarina Harony. [As cited in

Reader's Advisor Online Update

]


Horsecatcher

by Mari Sandoz . Publication: 1985 Random House.

Book Description: Sandoz's novel is the story of a gentle Cheyenne, Young Elk, who's trained to be a warrior, but has no stomach for it. Instead he turns to catching and taming mustangs. He runs along with them, almost talks to them. In this way he finds his vocation, and can live with honor among his people. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


The Shootist

by Glendon Fred Swarthout and Glendon Swarthout . Publication: 1975 Random House Inc.

Book Description: J.B. Books, a fearsome gunfighter in his day, comes to El Paso to confirm that he’s dying of prostrate cancer. There’s no way to take it easily, but he romances his landlady, Mrs. Rogers, just a little, and tries to be a hero to her son, Gillom. With perverse luck, there are some men who need killing in town, and in doing so Books turns them into his executioners. Good as it is, the novel is eclipsed by John Wayne’s poignant performance in the film version. A Spur winner. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


Sacajawea

by Anna Lee Waldo . Publication: 1984 Avon.

Book Description: A mammoth novel about Sacajawea, the Shoshoni girl who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their journey west to the Pacific. Captured by the Arikara tribe at a young age, Sacajawea is won by trader Toussaint Charbonneau in a game. She travels with him, her son Baptiste on her back, while he works as a translator on Lewis and Clark's expedition. Sacajawea befriends Clark, and he relies on her expertise with native foods and the landscape. Throughout it all, she dreams of being reunited with her family. [As cited in

Sarah L. Johnson, Historical Fiction

]


The Long Night of Winchell Dear

by Robert James Waller . Publication: 2006 Shaye Areheart Books.

Book Description: Winchell Dear, a seventy-seven-year-old Texas rancher, senses trouble is on the way and sits up all night waiting to face whatever it will be. Meanwhile, such seemingly unrelated characters as a drug smuggler, a Native American living on Winchell's ranch, and two hit men all move in the direction of the ranch and the novel's climax. [As cited in

Diana Tixier Herald & Wayne Wiegand (editor), Genreflecting

]


The Heartsong of Charging Elk

by James Welch . Publication: 2001 Random House Inc.

Book Description: In this novel based on a true story, Charging Elk, an Oglala Sioux who witnessed the massacre of his people at the Little Big Horn, is recruited by Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. For a time he travels across Europe, performing for crowds. When he falls ill in Marseille in 1892, he finds that the show goes on without him. It's up to Charging Elk to return to where he belongs, if he can only find where that is. [As cited in

Sarah L. Johnson, Historical Fiction

]

Also Described: The alienation and otherness of Native Americans is the subject of Welch’s moving tale of a man present at Custer’s defeat, but also, shortly afterward, at the disintegration of the Sioux nation. Charging Elk tries to live in the old way, but ironically his status as a true “wild Indian” piques the interest of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Soon, in acts of conscious self-parody, Charging Elk finds himself staging mock Indian raids. In France, he falls ill, and then is thrown on his wits in a culture that, though sometimes kind, couldn’t be more alien. A brilliant, cruel, tragic evocation based on real events. [As cited in

John Mort, Read the High Country

]


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