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The Borderland by Edwin Shrake

The Borderland (edition 2000)

by Edwin Shrake

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652183,505 (4.32)1
Title:The Borderland
Authors:Edwin Shrake
Info:New York : Hyperion, c2000, First edition, hardcover
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, Texas, Indians, Cherokee, Comanche, Austin, 1836-1846, Texas Rangers

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The Borderland: A Novel of Texas by Edwin Shrake



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No plot to support gratuitous sex & violence. Didn't finish - a rare event.
1 vote mjpennock | Oct 4, 2008 |
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
An Epic of the Republic of Texas, March 3, 2008

In `The Borderland', Edwin Shrake has given readers a highly entertaining, if at times fanciful tale of the old Texas Republic. Shrake takes the reader back to the tumultuous days of 1839 and 1840 as the Republic struggles to stay afloat. The city of Austin has recently been named the new capital and settlers of all stripes are flooding to that beautiful locale on the Texan Colorado River.

Shrakes populates his tale with a number of real historical characters, such as President Mirabeau Lamar, Albert Sidney Johnston, the Cherokee Chief Bowl, and a seemingly highly fictionalized rendition of Texas Ranger Captain Matthew Caldwell (called `Old Paint' because of his oddly colored beard). Shrake also creates some quite original fictional characters like the half-Irish, half-Cherokee brother and sister team of Dr. Romulus Swift and Cullasaja Swift.

Shrake's epic takes in the major events such as the Council House Fight, where treachery by Lamar and the Texas Army caused the slaughter of more than a dozen Comanche chiefs who had been enticed to peace talks by promises of rich gifts. This double-cross infuriated the Comanche and led to the famous Great Raid by several thousands of `prime' warriors who swept down all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. The Texans, led by the Rangers, made an improbably successful stand at the Battle of Plum Creek.

The book covers much the same time and territory as another work of historical fiction, Not Between Brothers: An Epic Novel of Texas by David Marion Wilkinson but in this reviewer's opinion, not as well. Shrake's treatment of the Comanches seems shallow by comparison. Shrake's main characters are just a bit too perfect; too strong and too beautiful. If I had to choose between them I would take Wilkinson's Not Between Brothers. But, fortunately I don't have to choose. Both books are well worth a read. ( )
  dougwood57 | Mar 3, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0786865792, Hardcover)

Everybody knows the story of the Alamo and the Texas victory over the Mexican army at San Jacinto, but the dramatic period that followed--the years when the Republic of Texas was not yet part of the United States--has largely been ignored. Edwin Shrake's novel makes up for that. The Borderland is set in 1839, three years after the Alamo fell. The fledgling Republic is down on its heels, desperate for money, short on organization, lacking structure and infrastructure, and still at war with Mexico. President Lamar, as much a poet as a politician, has a plan, though: by expanding the Republic to the Pacific, he can attract the frenzy--and cash--of land speculators. He begins by going up against his enemy, Sam Houston, and moving the capital of the Republic inland from Houston to a pristine river valley in central Texas--Comanche country--that gives birth to the new city of Austin. The repercussions are enormous. To begin with, it sets off the largest Comanche war party of all time.

Weaving together a marvelous cast of characters, some real, some wholly created, Shrake renders a strong, often eerie portrait of life on the frontier and the horrors of frontier warfare. As Texas Ranger Captain Matthew Caldwell, known as "Old Paint" because of his spotted beard, leads a desperate, ragtag force against the Comanche warriors on the plains south of Austin, Romulus Swift, a half-Cherokee physician descended from Jonathan Swift, falls in love with Caldwell's young German Jewish immigrant bride. Swift is a mystical character--he's on a quest to find a mysterious, otherworldly-wise creature said to live in a cave full of Spanish gold; Caldwell is more a straight-ahead force of nature. When the two men, suspicious of each other from the get-go, must journey together into Comancheria, the palpable tension has as much to do with whether they'll kill each other as it does with whether they'll be able to make a truce with 2,000 Comanche warriors ready to wipe Austin out. Add to the mix Swift's sister, anxious to return to her Native American past after a society life in New York, and Henry Longfellow, a powerful, misogynistic, slave-holding politician who may be Texas's first serial killer, and The Borderland has the makings of a truly tall tale. Massive in scope, captivating in detail, and meticulous in its resurrection of history, Shrake's novel exhumes a forgotten era of Texas's past. --Roland Gregory

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:02 -0400)

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A saga of the birth of Texas follows a multicultural cast of characters, including the half-Cherokee children of New Yorkers, a greedy lawyer, and a Texas Ranger, as they interact with historical figures and experience the Great American West

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