Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Historical Novels’

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »