Feeds:
Posts
Comments


Jaxson Chavez

This book is worth reading for the history alone.

I did a lot my own research while reading, because although I know the author obviously took liberty with the characters and even some of the timing of events, I really wanted to know how deep the fiction went. From what I could find, this is an extremely accurate account of events.

This book is not for the faint of heart however and I have to warn you…it is GRAPHIC. This is the real story and the author does not spare the details of war or of life.

This is a great book – for its history and for the story surrounding it. This book is beautifully written with so many details and beautiful descriptions. The characters felt so real to me. I loved them, cried with them and even missed them when I finished the book.

I think everyone should read this book, should know the story Jack Hays and the other Texas Rangers. The author has written this historical fiction novel with great attention to detail. 

I highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction or anyone who wants to read a well written, unique novel. 

James Greene 

This is one of those rare books that restores one’s faith in humanity! When a man’s word stood as enough.

“That evening Jack called a halt at a particularly scenic spot. His mood was lighthearted, and his mood permeated the camp. He neglected his usual practice of ordering all of his horses brought close to him for the night.”

It contains a great plot line that could be made interesting by almost any adequate writer. Well, David Gross is not an adequate writer. He is a superb writer! The emotional attachment I felt to the Jack and his people was strong and almost immediate. It called to my mind the way I felt about Gus McCrae when I read Lonesome Dove. For anyone of you that has read that masterpiece, you will know what I mean about the appeal of Jack Hays as a fictionalized character.

When I first saw the cover of this novel, something told me this would be a novel that would remind me of how good stories held me intent and involved from childhood onward. This story captured my imagination. It enabled me to see places and people I had never before seen or experienced. There are bits of wisdom and puzzles to reflect on long after the reading is over. Everything I have always loved about Texan stories is here – and I want more. 

Readers are fortunate to witness the life and times of John Hays through the perspective of his fictional , close friend John Caperton. We begin with young John Hays as he fervently wishes to join the army in the state of Texas. He has to prove his value, as does his friend. It doesn’t take long for them to show their great capacity for learning and open minds to new ways. It’s fascinating to see the creative ways they learn how to survive in the elements and against their challenging combatants, first Native American tribes and later the Mexicans.

At the height of his effectiveness, John Hays commanded a skilled band of Texas Rangers. It was a group of men who remembered grievous, recent times at the Alamo, and the masacre at Goliad. They were determined to defend their families and homes. They trained continually together and became feared by those who opposed them and called them Los Diablos Tejanos – The Texas Devils. Their leader, John Hays’ reputation preceeded him as he became known as Devil Jack. 

In contrast to his disciplined army life and battles, there is also a tender description of his family life and wedding. This comprehensive story tells all of his life accomplishments , including a surprising turn after his time in the army.

Author David R. Gross is a retired Veterinarian, who also taught and did research at Texas A & M University; College of Veterinary Medicine for sixteen years . From his several , diverse books readers quickly realize his absolute love of telling a great story.

Jul 09, 2020 Noah Johnson 

Expertly researched, beautifully told, compelling to the last page.

I don’t quite know how to begin to describe my feelings after completing this book. During the course of reading it, I savored each page for the subtleties of the descriptions and the masterful capturing of emotions. I read slowly. I reflected. I let the descriptions and the nuanced thinking seep in slowly to my being and my understanding. Yes, I pondered my own meaning of culture and family in every sense-physical, spiritual and emotional. I appreciated the thoughts that this book generated. Interestingly, perhaps because of the methodical way I read, I eagerly returned to this book late each night not because of action, but rather because of the insights I might gain and the creative, new way of lyrical expression of some profound thoughts.

This book was extraordinarily well written. The prose was beautiful, not falling into the choppy, almost stream of consciousness that other first person narrative works seem to take. The characters were well developed, their flaws very real and understandable.

In sum, this was my first historical fiction book and I have to say I am now a fan of the genre. The author is great at fleshing out the characters and sucking you into the story. I heavily recommend this book if it even looks slightly appealing to you. 


Layla Jacobson
Jul 31, 2020 Layla Jacobson rated it 5 stars.

You can tell from the title and the cover that this is a special book. David Gross never fails to delve into what’s otherwise unknown in this supposedly modern world. It opens the past that is so raw in our present. I first discovered Gross through his historical fiction offering called The Defender of the Texas Frontier and have been magnetized by his way of writing. It is so creatively objective that it changes you in significant ways. 

In The Warrior Rabbi, I was even more impressed. The setting is more ancient and even more beautiful. The plot is action-packed, and the characters are enticingly relevant to the time period. The storyline makes you want to be in the story itself. I recommend it without a doubt.


Irish Travis
Jul 09, 2020 Irish Travis rated it 5 stars on Goodreads

This book was an amazing read. I learned so much – which is what I love about good historical fiction. There were so many times in this book that I thought to myself, “so that’s why we do that” (in terms of Jewish traditions). I did find myself wondering if a non-historical reader would have difficulty understanding it.

One thing that engaging historical fiction can do is challenge our perceptions and lead us to learn more. Due to my upbringing and the Jewish literature I read, I tend to always assume overt poverty and/or persecution of Jews, particularly in Medieval periods. I found myself wanting to learn more about this section of Jewish history. Too often I get so wrapped up in the trauma of the Inquisition that I miss a very rich and interesting history. It also made me want to read more of Gross’ work, though I think I’m going to need some help with that! I’m not a Torah scholar by any stretch of the imagination but I thought the discussion of the Talmud and Torah rang true and raised interesting points. When I think about other historical fictions that I’ve enjoyed, they’ve often been ones with well rounded characters who increase my desire to learn more about a time period.

Like all his books, this one takes a few pages before it draws you in, but once it does, it is a very interesting and moving read.

I highly recommend it.

 Between Covers These People of History Come To Life May 5, 2020
Looking for a book that emphasizes the story in history? A fascinating read that brings the personalities of the people who made history spring to life. Enjoy a novel about the American frontier in the state of Texas and learn about a larger than life leader named John Coffee Hays. This Defender of the Texas Frontier, and the brave men he led, played a major role in shaping the events of their times. This book is a description of these adventures. The historical details are intricately researched and presented in a very entertaining way. Almost all the characters in the book were real people and their true actions, sprinkled with an enjoyable and clever fictional literary license.

Readers are fortunate to witness the life and times of John Hays through the perspective of his fictional, close friend John Caperton. We begin with young John Hays as he fervently wishes to join the army in the state of Texas. He has to prove his value, as does his friend. It doesn’t take long for them to show their great capacity for learning and open minds to new ways. It’s fascinating to see the creative ways they learn how to survive in the elements and against their challenging combatants, first Native American tribes and later the Mexicans.

At the height of his effectiveness, John Hays commanded a skilled band of Texas Rangers. It was a group of men who remembered grievous, recent times at the Alamo, and the masacre at Goliad. They were determined to defend their families and homes. They trained continually together and became feared by those who opposed them and called them Los Diablos Tejanos – The Texas Devils. Their leader, John Hays’ reputation preceded him as he became known as Devil Jack.

In contrast to his disciplined army life and battles, there is also a tender description of his family life and wedding. This comprehensive story tells all of his life accomplishments, including a surprising turn after his time in the army.

Author David R. Gross is a retired Veterinarian, who also taught and did research at Texas A & M University; College of Veterinary Medicine for sixteen years. From his several, diverse books readers quickly realize his absolute love of telling a great story. You can find out more about the author and his other books and writings as well on his website.

KIRKUS REVIEW

Defender of the Texas Frontier

Gross’ (A Mexican Adventure, 2017, etc.) latest historical novel traces the formation and adventures of the Texas Rangers during the Mexican War, under the leadership of a bold young man from Tennessee.

The narrative opens in 1836 with two adventure-seeking 19-year-olds, John Caperton and John Coffee “Jack” Hays, having drinks at a bar in Nacogdoches in the Republic of Texas. They’ve been friends since they were young boys learning how to “live rough” in Tennessee; now they’ve joined a volunteer force to fight the Mexican Army. Before they go, Big Al Cranston, the town bully, threatens to punch Jack for smiling, and Jack shoots the man dead before he can even throw a punch. Caperton acts as a narrator as Gross stitches together the events leading up to the Mexican War, highlighting Jack and an ensemble of real and imaginary characters. Readers tag along on a mission to Goliad to scout for enemy soldiers in advance of Gen. Thomas Jefferson Rusk’s army, and get an account of the Battle of Coleto, in which more than 400 Texan soldiers, after surrendering, are massacred by the Mexican army. Similar vignettes offer detailed descriptions of Comanche culture, military aggression, and diplomacy with other Native American nations. By 1845, when Texas applies for statehood, Jack’s regiment of scouts is known as Hays’ Texas Rangers and plays an important role in securing the Texas border during the battles at Painted Rock and Monterrey. Gross’ novel is loaded with intriguing period detail, such as how Comanche hunters use every part of a slain buffalo except the heart, which, as war chief Buffalo Hump explains, “is left to show the Creator of all things that our people are not greedy.” The plethora of names and locations detracts from the action and may occasionally leave readers confused about the time and place of particular events. Although the character development is minimal, except for Hays’, Gross’ descriptions consistently offer vivid imagery: “Our silent, measured, advance frustrated the war chief. He rode back and forth in front of his warriors, shouting at us.”

An engaging fictionalized review of the fight for Texas that should resonate with history buffs.

David R. Gross’s dramatic retelling of a historical legend, Defender of the Texas Frontier, captures an era as it follows a young man’s rise to hero status.

Nineteen-year-old John Coffey Hays missed fighting in the battle for Texas’s independence. Full of vim and vigor, Hays joins up with a ranging patrol to defend the Texas border. So begins his storied career, which spans close to two decades. Along the way, Hays leads a ragtag group of men and forges an elite squad known as Rangers. Hays and his Rangers defend the US while skirmishing with both Mexicans and local native tribes. As his exploits become legend, Hays continues to affect change in Texas that ripples outward.

Hays’s story is entwined with the Texas Rangers’s origins. Known as the toughest and most judicious lawmen in history, the Rangers are shown starting out as a rough group, but becoming a power to be reckoned with. With strong attention to historical detail, the narrative shows how Hays learns and evolves while helping his men do likewise.

The book’s tone blends textbook dryness with drama and reads like an embellished historical document. The story unfolds through two primary perspectives: Hays’s, and that of his childhood friend, John. The focus shifts back and forth between the two, with highlights given to other important characters, too. These character transitions round out the narrative, allowing each character to give it their own touch. Hays’s commander and the commander of the tribal army are two of these: Hays’s commander comments on tactics, military prowess, and his personal life, while the tribal army commander highlights the respect between the Texans and the tribe as both defend their lands. It’s an interesting dichotomy that enriches the narrative.

Frequent dialogue tags are almost unnecessary because of the distinctiveness of the characters’ voices, whose subtle vocal tics make their discussions engaging and individualized: one character, despite being able to converse in fluent Spanish, speaks Spanish with a southern drawl, and words like “Mexicans” come out as “mesicans.”

This fictionalized version of Jack Hays uses key events from his life to build up the legend, enjoyably following him from his youth into his established adulthood. It is an artful take on Texas history.

Defender of the Texas Frontier fleshes out a Texas legend with aplomb, setting him in the midst of an engaging historical adventure.

JOHN M. MURRAY

Reviewed By Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite

Defenders of the Southwest Frontier: A Historical Novel by David R. Gross is a fascinating, intriguing mix of fiction, fact, and heroism. This narrative plunges the reader back into an exciting historic moment to follow the life of one of the outstanding Rangers, John Coffey Hays and his role in defending Texas from raids by bands of Comanches and the Mexicans. He became a captain at the age of twenty-three and had some of the most powerful lieutenants, commanding great respect and following from other leaders in the stand to defend Texas. This is a story of inspiring leadership, spiced with romance and adventure. The narrative features historical figures like William Wallace “aka” Bigfoot, Ben McCulloch, and many others. 

David R. Gross does an impeccable job with the setting, allowing readers vivid glimpses of life in Texas in the first half of the 19th century. It was a period in which the revolver was just being discovered and it played a significant role in guerrilla warfare. The characters are well explored and written, ingeniously fleshed out with sufficient backstory to make them rock solid and compelling. The strength of this novel lies in the author’s gift for setting and his ability to allow history to speak through the narrative. There is a lot of telling and explanations that can be distracting to readers who are keen on the “show not tell” technique, but the narrative is confident and this author follows his unique narrative voice. Defenders of the Southwest Frontier: A Historical Novel is action-packed and intense, a tale of courage and bravery, a tale that isn’t lacking when it comes to surprises and unexpected turns.