Westward expansion following the civil war ushered in an era of increased conflict between the Southern Plains Indians and white settlers. Peace treaties offered temporary suspension of hostilities, but more often than not resulted in broken promises as the two cultures clashed over land. The construction of frontier forts and towns, the decimation of the buffalo herds, the movement of cattle through Indian lands to burgeoning western markets, – all of these forces threatened a way of life that had existed for centuries.
The Comanche, the Southern Cheyenne, the Kiowa, the Apache all fought to protect their customs and homelands. The clashes were characterized by savagery on both sides – Indian and white. However, finite numbers and options would ensure the tribes’ defeat; they faced certain death or forced relocation and their days were numbered.
Though the Indian wars are the focus of Palo Duro, the novel also captures the spirit of the “Old West” with its depiction of the great cattle drives from Texas into Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Montana, the cattle barons and the trail blazers, the outlaws and gunslingers, the lawmen and Texas Rangers, and the settlers and entrepreneurs who built this country. It chronicles an era characterized by heroism, brutality, and bold ventures while paying tribute to a genre that is fading from public consciousness – the western. It is the story of the Southwest United States towards the end of the nineteenth century and the rugged individualism that forged a nation.
5 STAR PRAISE FOR PALO DURO:
This book captured Central Texas in the post-Civil War era better than any other book I’ve read. It was well researched, well written, and easy to read. I enjoyed this book more than Empire of the Summer Moon, the standard setter. I recommend this to readers of any level, even if you dislike history, as this book is that good.
– Jeffrey R. Murray, Amazon review
Max Knight brought to life the saga of how Texas tamed their frontier. He presents a colorful experience with characters effectively placed throughout his story. If you have any interest in Texas history this book is a must read. – AmazonJacki, Amazon review
Palo Duro is an exceptional novel, well researched; a must read.
– Chuck B., Amazon review
Reading this book is a great way to deepen and appreciate one’s Texas roots – or if you are not a Texan to understand and enjoy what makes Texas, well, Texas! I found this novel to be especially entertaining as well as informative. Made me want to go back and read Lonesome Dove again! – Michael P., Amazon review
In the spirit of the old Western genre of Zane Grey and L’amour, Max Knight pays homage to our national heritage with this fictional but historically accurate labor of love that warms the heart with his vivid imagery and authentic tone of America’s illustrious and sometimes brutal past. – Chester Sosinski, Amazon review
“Only one thing about her new life bothered Molly – the continued slaughter of the buffalo. The hunters killed the cows leaving the calves to starve to death. Their cries as they stayed by the dead carcasses of their mothers could be heard across the prairie and their pitiful bawling moved her to action.”
With that one paragraph Max L. Knight captures the wantless destruction of the buffalo from the Western landscape. In his novel, Palo Duro, he retells the horrific, savage wars and interactions between Indians and government soldiers. It also recounts cattle drives, Buffalo Soldiers, to the beginnings of the Texas Rangers.
What I loved the most about Palo Duro are the thirteen books within its covers that blend retold U.S. history in the fifty-nine chapters seamlessly. So much history is within these reimagined historical fiction chapters and Knight masterfully, intermingled that history from page to page.
As a grad student in anthropology, I was exposed to the countless history of the Indian wars through various books and journal articles. Most of those books only touched the surface of what occurred with the Indians. While Knight’s book is a fictional account so much of it carries historical truths woven with brilliant creative writing. Like how Oliver Loving really died to Molly Goodnight saving the last historical buffalo. Part of that herd she saved now freely roams Caprock Canyons State Park. Yes – Geronimo is buried in Oklahoma.
Another interesting aspect of Knight’s book is describing the lives of women back in the 1800s. Life was not all roses and poetry for the majority of women and he gives readers a good insight into what life was really like for them.
If you have a love for U.S. history and want an interesting take on it then Palo Duro is must read. It’s a fast read with the best conservational tones. Knight is correct that most people are forgetting and becoming disinterested in our real U.S. history. With the Indians being placed on reservations and the mass killing of the bison, an era did come to end – one that we must not forget. Maybe Knight’s book will rekindle interest again in our history, especially Texas history.
Max L. Knight was born in Panama in 1949, and was raised both in the Canal Zone and in San Antonio, Texas where he now resides with his wife, Janet “Gray.” A proud member of the Corps of Cadets and graduate of Texas A&M University (Class of ’73), he received a bachelor’s degree in English and a Regular Army commission and served the next twenty-four years as an Air Defense and Foreign Area Officer before retiring in 1997 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After leaving the Army, Max spent the next five years working for RCI Technologies of San Antonio, becoming its Director of Internal Operations. Separating from the company in 2002, he volunteered to be the first docent at the Alamo working within its Education Department before once again serving his country as a Counterintelligence Specialist in Europe, Central America, Asia and the Middle East through 2013. Max speaks several languages including Greek and Spanish. He also holds a Master of Science degree in government from Campbell University. He has written and published two books to date: Silver Taps, a personal memoir of his relationship with his father and a tribute to his alma mater, and Palo Duro, a novel focusing on the Indian wars in the southwestern United States at the end of the nineteenth century.
The Anahuac of 1972 is more than just an isolated outpost on Texas’s Trinity Bay – it’s a place where greed and justice uncomfortably intermingle, where the evangelical fervor of charismatic preachers resonate, where blacks and whites navigate a fragile co-existence, and where a murder leads to even darker mysteries than murder.
Jim Ward, introduced in Morgan’s Point as a young, idealistic Houston prosecutor, returns in Anahuac as an older, more conflicted, more complicated man, coming to Anahuac to defend a man who appears guilty of a horrible crime. His discoveries lead to entanglements in the very nature of good and evil, in a town that is at once of its time and timeless, steeped in a history that is unexpectedly but definitively drawing Ward in its narrative web.
PRAISE FOR ANAHUAC:
“Austin writer William D. Darling’s second novel, Anahuac, is an entertaining, engrossing legal thriller that offers both darkly humorous and good-natured thrusts at life, love, and law . . . first-rate reading, especially for readers who enjoy legal thrillers, lawyer procedurals, suspense, Texas settings, and characters who live large.” – Lone Star Literary Life
“Darling draws vivid portraits of his setting while also bringing in historical currents like women’s liberation, the growth of container shipping, and the rise of the prosperity gospel, adding interest to what’s otherwise a fairly simple courtroom drama.” – Kirkus Reviews
I’m a Texan originally from the east coast who’s had occasion to meet some of these characters from another planet. Darling weaves us through the minds of lawyers with jealousies, insecurities, questions of faith, honor, and guilt as they tackle the case of a horrible crime that has the potential to put a man of God away forever. I held on tight as we went through the engrossing trial, which did not disappoint! If you love history, crime, passion, religion, and suspense, this is a must read! – Kristy Recker (an Amazon reviewer)
The defendant is presumed innocent. The indictment is not evidence of guilt. The state’s burden is to prove guilt beyond a “reasonable doubt,” not all doubt. The jury is the judge of the credibility of the witnesses. The key words were in the circumstantial evidence paragraph.
Anahuac by author William Darling main foundation is a fast-paced journey of showing readers how small-town Texas law really worked in the 1970s. The story starts off with Sarita Jo Franklin, who was well known as a strong woman who didn’t back down from anyone. Immediately, I was drawn to her character, so much so that when she was killed off it left me longing to know more about her, but alas the author took me on another journey. Finding her true killer or did he?
That journey was well crafted into how small-town Texas justice really works. The larger than life character of Reverend Randall Clay who is accused of murdering Sarita fills pages with his devotions and beliefs in God, as well as his followers establishing New Jerusalem in the tiny town of Anahuac.
As Clay is indicted for the murder, the story begins to tell about the lives of the lawyers who were hired to defend Clay in the murder. The story goes into the details of their own insecurities as lawyers, friends, and spouses. I love the side story of Aurora and Cooper, who are the wives of the lawyers. You get a really good sense of how hard it was for them to be professional women even in the 1970s.
History, crime, and religion are richly interwoven in Anahuac. If you love fictional crime history with some truth added to it then you’ll love this book. My only problems with the book were with formatting and some proofreading. Overall, Darling’s story-telling voice shines in this fast-paced book giving you a sense of how small Texas town justice really worked and possibly is still evident today, along with just enough information to care about the characters.
William D. Darling is a lifelong storyteller and very nearly a native Texan, arriving in his beloved state as an infant in 1942. His first novel, Morgan’s Point, introduced readers to both the mid-‘60s rough-and-tumble world of the Houston courts where Darling came of age, and the Galveston Bay region that has long fascinated him. His latest novel Anahuac, serves as a sequel to Morgan’s Point as well as its own fascinating tale.
Darling, who has lived within the legislative bustle of Washington, D.C. and in the beauty of a Central Texas ranch, currently resides in Austin, where he and his wife have built a longstanding law practice.
Anahuac Reading in Anahuac William D. Darling brings it on home! He’ll read from Anahuac in the city where the new novel is set for the first time ever. Chambers County Library, 202 Cummings Street, Anahuac, TX, US
February 17, 2018, 4:30PM
Anahuac Houston Release Event William D. Darling will sign and read from Anahuac, celebrating the release of the book with friends and well-wishers in the city he once called home, as part of a multi-author event. Murder by the Books, 2342 Bissonnet, Houston, TX, US
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
THREE WINNERS EACH WIN A COPY OF ANAHUAC +$10 Amazon Gift Card January 5-January 14, 2018