Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth

The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth : Mountaineer, Scout, and Pioneer and Chief of the Crow Nation of Indians (1856) by [Bonner, T. D.]

The average mountain man was a cut above most normal men. Tough, rugged, resourceful and burning with a passion for the wilderness, these gents forever cemented themselves as a presence in the American West. While quite a few died in their quest for furs, either through bad-tempered grizzlies, freezing to death, or falling victim to the scalper's knife, it's more amazing at how many survived. And Jim Beckwourth was one of the best.

A mulatto and former slave, Jim set out at an early age with other trappers in the Ashley Company to penetrate the Rockies and secure the beaver pelts that the East so desperately craved. This remarkable man went from being just one of many green trappers to becoming a leading chief of the Crow nation and being accepted into their fold like few other men ever could.

Within this tome he describes a massive volume of his life and his adventures. These are his words, albeit somewhat edited. Even so one quickly gets a great idea of what sort sort of man Mr. Beckwourth was. One gets the impression that in spite of his many achievements and grand adventures, he is soft spoken and is more apt to lay things in a casual manner, yet one doesn't find himself bored at all. On the contrary! His insights into the mindset of the Crows is simply invaluable. He knew them as precious few other men could ever hope to. If you wish to learn deeply of this tribe, then this is essential reading.

I have heard that some of his accounts are inaccurate, so one may wish to take some of his words with a grain of salt. It is always wise to cross reference sources. Speaking personally, I get the impression of absolute honesty, a man simply relaying his accounts as best as his memory can serve him. So while individual details may be incorrect due to the effects of time on memory, I believe that as a whole his accounts are accurate.

Beckwourth was believed by the Crows to in fact be one of their own, kidnapped by the whites as a child and raised as they were raised. And wouldn't you know it? His "mother" found a mole above his eye, which she said belonged to her own son who had disappeared so many years before. Lo and behold, their long lost member had finally returned! And as a great warrior no less! The love these people bestowed upon him is enough to wrench most hearts from their breasts, and it becomes quite clear that Beckwourth himself cared deeply for them. He married many of their women, even when trying to court a lass back in the East, and for the most part handled himself as a wonderful adventurer. Even as his personal wealth in pelts grew, one gets the feeling that he had little desire to return to the life of the East. He could just collect a few more pelts and move back whenever he felt like it. Whenever that might be.

All said, this is a huge but fantastic book. I myself have not yet finished it, even after a few months of flicking through the pages, but I feel that it is well worth the read. Please take a look and see back into the days of the mountain man!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Geronimo's Story of His Life

Geronimo's Story of His Life by [Geronimo]

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the West has heard the name Geronimo. One of the greatest warriors of the notorious Apaches of Arizona, Geronimo commanded respect for his daring, resourcefulness and raw courage that stymied two armies for decades.

So when I came across this gem I felt my heart leap with anticipation. Plenty of books have been written by military men who fought Apaches and others, but a book written by one of the warriors himself? And one of their best leaders no less? This my friends is an absolute treasure.

In this book Geronimo covers many portions of his life, from when he was young, to some of his later battles, and during his many years as a prisoner of war. Many aspects of Apache life are covered, from weddings, domestic life, to warfare and religion. I find it surprising however that Geronimo covers conspicuously little of his fights against American soldiers. He defers far more often to fighting against Mexicans. And he seems to cover his failures more often than his successes. I suspect these may be due to a combination of humility, and perhaps the military editors not being terribly keen on him describing how he gave them the slip for so long. However I have no evidence to support either suspicion, and I could be dreadfully wrong on both. He was a man of strong will, and if he didn't have a mind to discuss something, he simply wouldn't do so.

However, upon reading this entire thing, one truly gets the feeling that they knew not just the warrior, but the man as a human being. One feels his pain and loss, his frustration and anxiety, but also his stoic resolve in the face of difficult circumstances and even love for some of the better things he found later in life. One of my favorite chapters is actually when he visited the fair, meeting people from many other countries and watching performers. Of all his words in the book, it is his last ones that perhaps strike me the strongest: "I wish all of my people could have attended the Fair."

It's in these last chapters that one feels his sorrow and sadness, having born so many burdens, and yet one can feel a touch of happiness and reserved hope for the future. In these words over a century old one can still sense the resolute strength and power that guided one of history's greatest warriors. One almost feels as though they are listening to him speak around the campfire, recalling pleasant and poor memory alike. I find this beyond fascinating, and it is an absolute gem of literature.

I highly encourage anyone and everyone to read this book! I loved every page, and I hope that others can get the same pleasure from it that I did.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Books on the brain

I've been really slow on here lately, what with things being all sorts of chaotic on my end and struggling to maintain my hold on what sanity I have left, but I think I have enough room now to come back and actually make myself somewhat useful. How? Well, I've been hoarding books lately like a miser, and through these many metaphorically dusty tomes I've uncovered absolute treasures of knowledge. So! I'll be recommending and discussing some of these, hopefully starting tomorrow. Some I've read cover to cover, others I'm still getting through. It's hard to be really thorough, just because I have so many to get through, and some of these memoirs are really hefty, but I'll do the best I can. Usually I can get an idea of how good a piece is within the first few thousand pages.

I'll mostly be looking at books written by people who were actually at various time periods or locations. I love meticulously researched books, but first hand accounts are simply invaluable, and thankfully there are many of these floating around for just a few dollars, or even free. So if you want a really good perspective of certain eras, stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kapar's Mark release date!

Yes yes yes! The newest installment of the Primal Frontier series is primed and ready to go! This bad boy is far larger than my earlier works. It's a hair over 100k words long, 30 chapters, and will probably amount to 350 pages once it's released on the Kindle. Phew! This is my first full sized novel, and I hope it will feel as epic as I tried to make it.

This time Ansgar has gotten wind of a creature unlike any other he has ever seen before on a far off island that no white man has yet explored. It's full of dangerous wildlife, disease, hostile tribes, impassable jungle and more. Just the sort of place his wild spirit yearns to go. He must find a ship willing to take him on his crazy errand, brave the interior of the island Indannas and all its perils, to find the legendary beast known as the kapar. Whispered by the local tribes to be demons in physical form, they rarely if ever risk their wrath. But is there more to this beast than simply being dangerous? We shall see!

The book will be released on July 8th, Saturday, for five dollars. Yes, that's a wee bit pricier than my earlier works, but this one is huge. I think it's a fair trade. Also! On the release day I will have ALL of my earlier works put up for FREE for a whole week! So if you've been interested in any of the others or want to share them with friends or family, now is your chance to take full advantage of them. My treat.

So mark your calendars and get the hype train going!