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Many a River by Elmer Kelton

Many a River

by Elmer Kelton

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This is the tale of two brothers, Jeffrey and Todd, who are separated as children in 1855 when Comanche raiders murder their parents. Jeffrey is fostered among good people, but Todd, taken as a captive is sold to a trader who treats him like a slave. Both their lives are changed when the Civil War begins uprooting settlers and forcing friends and families to choose, often opposite, sides.

If you're a fan of Westerns and looking for a good one to read, you might want to add a star or so to my rating. I'm not a fan, so it takes one that transcends the genre, a Big Little Man, a Ox-bow Incident, a True Grit or Lonesome Dove to make me want to put such a book permanently on my bookshelf. But I've been reading through a list of Westerns on which Kelton was recommended, and this was better than average--one that held me from beginning to end, and even if the style isn't impressive, it's at least clean and far more readable than Zane Grey, Max Brand or Louis L'Amour. And if the novel isn't groundbreaking or insightful in the way it handles the American Civil War or American dealings with Mexicans or Native Americans, it nevertheless offers up a solid, if fairly bland, adventure story and coming of age tale. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Jul 9, 2011 |
I have always found Elmer Kelton a extremely reliable author when I am in the mood for a good western story and Many A River was no exception. This is the story of two young brothers who are travelling across Texas with their parents when they are separated and orphaned by a Comanche attack. The younger brother, Todd was five at the time and he was carried away with the Indians and eventually sold to a brutal trader called January. He had no idea of his last name and believed his whole family had been slaughtered.

The elder brother , Jeffrey, was away from the camp at the time of the attack and managed to hide but did witness the death of his parents. The war party had been raiding horses from ranches and therefore shortly after the massacre, Jeffrey was rescued from the wilderness and taken into the family of one of the ranchers. When a mangled, young corpse was found, Jeffrey believed it was his young brother that had been slain.

Both brothers are raised separately and as the Civil War approaches Todd finally gets the courage to run away from January and eventually is taken under the wing of a Texan Confederate soldier as they invade New Mexico, Jeffrey, is also swept up in the violence and disorder that the war causes along this western frontier.

I found both brothers stories equally interesting and I learned about the Confederate campaign fought by a hapless General Sibley in West Texas and New Mexico. Overall, a good action saga with authentic historical details. ( )
2 vote DeltaQueen50 | Aug 22, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765360292, Mass Market Paperback)

The Barfield family, Arkansas sharecroppers, are heading west with their sons Jeffrey and Todd. In far West Texas their camp is attacked by Comanche raiders and the elder Barfields are killed and scalped. The younger boy, Todd, is taken captive by the Indians. The older son, Jeffrey, manages to hide and is rescued by the militia men.  Jeffrey is taken in by a home-steading family, while Todd is sold, for a rifle and gunpowder, to a Comanchero trader named January.

Both become caught up in the turbulence of the Civil War, which even in remote West Texas, the border country with New Mexico, pits Confederate sympathizers against Unionists. The brothers, separated by violence, are destined to be rejoined by violence.  Will they meet as friends or deadly enemies?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:36 -0400)

The Barfield brothers are separated by a Comanche raid. Years later, they are destined to be reunited and discover how their separate lives have changed them.

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