“Boggs, among the best of the current Western writers, finds timeless themes in the dusty frontier, where lesser authors find only gunplay.” —Booklist
Recalling his early life as a young cowboy, sixty-two-year-old Madison Carter remembers his first love: her name was Estrella O’Sullivan, and he met her the summer he turned sixteen back in 1873.
The summer of 1873 marked Madison’s last drive up what is now called the Chisholm Trail. It was the first time he tasted oysters and the only time he pinned on a badge. It was the summer of longhorns, miserable heat, friendship and betrayal, and murder. In the end it was the summer the whole world came crumbling down on the United States, and Madison’s world crashed too.
The summer of 1873 was the year Madison watched a bunch of men die. One of them was a man he killed, an encounter one never forgets.
Tormented by Southern partisans, Missouri farm boy Caleb Cole joins the Union’s Eighteenth Missouri. About the same time, down on the Texas coast, violin-playing Ryan McCalla, from a well-to-do family, enlists in the Confederacy’s Second Texas—mainly in the spirit of adventure—with some friends.
The two teenagers are about to grow up quickly.
Fate will bring the two together—along with a teenage girl from Corinth, Mississippi, when the Confederate and Union armies clash at Shiloh, Tennessee, and then again in the town of Corinth.
They will learn that war is far from glorious.
William Clarke Quantrill was a hated name during the War between the States by the Federals of the Union Army as well as by many non-combatants. Even the high command of the Confederacy distrusted him. But there were others who were passionate sympathizers. He was both friend and mentor‚ but also manipulator and opportunist.
Alistair Durant was someone who came to know him in all these guises. Durant was a young Confederate soldier‚ captured by the Yankees‚ and released when he took an oath never again to bear arms against the Union. He had a long walk back to his home in Clay County, Missouri. It is on this trek that Alistair meets another youngster‚ Beans Kimbrough.
The two become companions and then friends on the way to Clay County, and it is there that Beans will introduce Alistair to a man calling himself Charley Hart. Hart has a fantastic plan—to organize a militia to fight against the Federals.
“That was the year we had no food.”
It’s the spring of 1864, and times are hard in Washington County, Arkansas, especially for thirteen-year-old Travis Ford. He hasn’t heard from his father, a sergeant in the Second Arkansas Cavalry, in months. His mother is struggling to make ends meet on the family farm and abandoned sawmill near Poison Spring. All Travis really wants to do is to follow his passion—make up adventure stories in the style of Alexandre Dumas. But the Civil War keeps getting in his way. Since his mother hails from Illinois and has Abolitionist leanings, the Ford family—including Travis’ twin sister, Edith, and their seven-year-old brother, Baby Hugh—has few friends to turn to for help, only eccentric Miss Mary Frederick, who owns a cotton plantation down the road, and Uncle Willard Ford, a slave trader in nearby Camden. For the most part, Anna Louella Ford and her children find themselves alone, and they are about to become even more isolated.
The South Carolina backcountry is no place for a young girl to grow up in the 1760s, but sixteen-year-old Emily Stewart wouldn’t have it any other way. She loves the settlement of Ninety Six where her father Breck Stewart runs a tavern with his family, including Emily’s embittered older brother, Donnan. But there’s much to fear, too. Gangs of murderers, thieves, and robbers terrorize the country with impunity. Pleas to the government in Charlestown fall on deaf ears. As the savagery continues, Breck Stewart is finally forced to take a stand, forming a vigilante group called the Cane Creek Regulators. The settlers take the law into their own hands—even though such an act will be considered treason and could land everyone riding with the vigilantes in a colonial prison—or on the gallows.
Seventeen-year-old Silver King dreams of becoming a working cowboy. His mother, however, has pushed him to be a baseball player—and King certainly has the arm to be a star pitcher. When the National League forms a team in Kansas City in 1886, both mother and son get their wishes.
Sam Houston is a living legend in 1861.
The hero of the Battle of San Jacinto, he had defeated Santa Anna to win independence for Texas back in 1836. He had twice served as president of the Republic of Texas, helped Texas join the Union, and served as senator and governor of Texas. Before settling in Texas, he had been a hero of the Creek War and governor of Tennessee. He had been friends with Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett, and had been adopted into the Cherokee tribe, whose rights he had often defended and who had named him the Raven.
Yet now, approaching seventy years of hard living, he finds everything he has fought for being torn asunder. Texas is joining the Confederacy, and Houston, a Unionist who has been cast out as governor, quickly loses power, prestige, and friends.
He could hide in retirement, but such is not the way of a warrior. The Raven prepares for his most important fight yet.
He knows this battle will test his endurance and faith. He knows he will need his wife, Margaret, to save him from his own worst enemy—himself. And he knows this war, which will pit brother against brother, will also try to divide Houston’s family. What he doesn’t know yet is that he will find help from long-dead friends and enemies to help him sort out his life and restore his honor.
Johnny D. Boggs, among the most honored Western writers of the twenty-first century, brings one of Texas’ greatest heroes to life, warts and all, in a character study and love story of a man fighting for his country and legacy—but mostly for his family.
Johnny D. Boggs turns the battlefield itself into a character in this historical retelling of Custer’s Last Stand, when George Custer led most of his command to annihilation at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in southern Montana in 1876.
More than forty first-person narratives are used—Indian and white, military and civilian, men and women—to paint a panorama of the battle itself.
Boggs brings the events and personalities of the Battle of the Little Bighorn to life in a series of first-hand accounts.
William Lee Braden was no secessionist, no slave owner. In fact, when the polls opened in Jacksboro, Texas, on February 23, 1861, Braden rode twelve miles up Lost Creek from his small ranch not only to vote against secession, but on his ballot, right next to his signature, he wrote For the Union forever. But come the fall of 1861, William Lee Braden rode off to join his brother Jacob in Harrisburg to fight, not for the Confederacy, but rather to defend the state of Texas from invasion and occupation.
Braden left behind him his wife, Martha Jane Pierce Braden, and his six-year-old son, Pierce Jonathan Braden. Certainly, one of the things Wil Braden, as well as the others from Jack County who had joined the army, had overlooked was that the warlike Kiowas and Comanches would seize the opportunity to wage a series of raids against the undefended ranches and farms they had left behind.
Unlike many of the men who went off to war, Wil would return to Texas four years later with scars he tried to keep hidden and no desire to talk about his war experience.
Fifteen-year-old Evan Kendrick has traveled from New Mexico Territory to Galveston with his father, Edward, who will be competing in a horse race that’s offering a $3,000 prize to the winner. But a terrible accident seriously injures Evan’s drunken father, forcing Evan to saddle up instead.
This is no ordinary race. Running from Texas to New England, its course is eighteen hundred miles—maybe even longer—and Evan will be riding a barely half-broke mustang stallion that he and his father caught. He’ll be competing against all breeds of horses, ridden by professionals and amateurs from across the world.
Although Evan has learned a lot about horses from his father, Edward has also taught his son that horses are good for nothing—“You ride one to death, you get another and do the same.”
Luckily, but somewhat reluctantly, the race’s chief veterinarian, Patrick Jack, takes Evan under his wing. But a horse doctor can teach a hot-headed teenager only so much.
For six weeks, Evan Kendrick will learn a lot about horses, riding, friendship, life—and himself. He’ll form alliances with two of his competitors, a Negro Seminole Indian scout named Dindie Remo and a hard-drinking young woman, Arena Lancaster, whose life has been harder than even young Evan’s. Evan will make enemies, too. He’ll see new country, and he’ll discover what America can offer, both good and bad. But to win this race—to even survive it—Evan will have to put his trust in a tough stallion the color of trader’s whiskey: a mustang named Taos Lightning.
In 1913, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Lawrence, Kansas, Massacre, former bushwhacker Cole Younger stands before a preacher at a tent revival.
“I was, I remain, and I will always be a wicked man,” Younger states, taking a step toward salvation. And for a man like Cole Younger, there is much to confess.
Saddle tramp Sam MacKinnon is in trouble. Double-crossed by his partners after robbing a saloon and gambling hall, MacKinnon has been left behind in the mountains of southern New Mexico with busted ribs, a banged-up head, no gun, and no horse. And no chance—because aging lawman Nelson Bookbinder and his Mescalero Apache scout, Nikita—both made legendary by dime novels MacKinnon has read—are leading a small posse hot in pursuit of the bandits. Miraculously, MacKinnon escapes the law, finds his horse and rifle, and, despite his injuries, sets out on the vengeance trail. But fate has something else in mind for Sam MacKinnon.
Miles away in the desert furnace between Ruidoso and Roswell, nineteen-year-old Katie Callahan has troubles of her own. Her mother has died of tuberculosis, and her worthless stepfather has abandoned the family, leaving Katie with her younger sister and five-year-old stepbrother, a busted wagon, a blind mule, little water and food, and her mother’s body that needs to be buried. When the wounded MacKinnon rides into that camp, he’s faced with a choice.
Fate, however, still has a few other surprises in mind for the saddle tramp, the young woman, MacKinnon’s partners, and even that aging New Mexico lawman.
Inspired by Pasó Por Aquí, the classic 1926 novella written by Eugene Manlove Rhodes—“The Bard of the Tularosa”—and filmed as Four Faces West (1948), seven-time Spur Award winner Johnny D. Boggs tells a story of the detours, road blocks, and sidetracks along the journeys to justice, love, vengeance, and redemption.
Noah Benton, a teenager with a great memory, a head for arithmetic, and dreams of excitement, is hired along with his older brother to help drive a herd of Texas longhorns to Abilene, Kansas. But Noah’s trail boss happens to be John Wesley Hardin, a notorious killer who thinks Texas lawmen won’t look for a fugitive in a crew of hardworking cowboys. After Hardin sees a profit in Noah’s ability to count and memorize cards in gambling dens, Noah’s dreams of excitement quickly turn into nightmares—for Hardin will kill with little provocation.
Earning the nicknames “Counting Boy,” “The Abilene Kid,” and “Abilene,” Noah survives the bloody journey to Kansas, only to learn that Abilene rightfully deserves its nickname as a Sodom or Gomorrah. In a town where anything goes, the marshal, legendary gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok, reluctantly forms a truce with Hardin—leaving Noah caught in the middle. As summer stretches into fall, Noah finds another friend, a special deputy named Mike Williams, who tries to keep Noah from stumbling on his way to manhood.
In this well-researched historical novel, eight-time Spur Award–winning author Johnny D. Boggs chronicles Abilene’s last year as a cattle town, 1871, while humanizing Hardin and Hickok and painting sobering portraits of a city undergoing rapid change, and the never-changing challenges teenagers face on their path to adulthood.
What’s a sixteen-year-old boy to do when he learns that his stepmother and a local judge have murdered his father and now plan to kill him, too? Well, when it’s 1906, and you can play pretty good second base, you join a barnstorming baseball team making its way across Kansas. It also helps that the team is the Kansas City National Bloomer Girls. After all, who’d look for a runaway boy disguised as a girl on a women’s team that competes against town-ball teams of male players?
Of course, it’ll take more than long hair, a Spalding glove, and a quick bat to stay alive. Luckily, another Bloomer Girl, Buckskin Compton, alias Dolly Madison, is on the dodge after some shootings and beatings in Wyoming—and he takes the kid under his tutelage.
Staying alive won’t prove easy for either of the reluctant female impersonators as they deal with a budding romance, hitting slumps, a crooked manager, bean balls, drunken teammates, bank robbers, lousy umpires, a revolution for women’s rights, and a rapidly changing Western frontier. Baseball isn’t always fun and games—especially when one bad play might leave the both of you cut from the Bloomer Girls … or just plain dead.
In a novel very loosely based on fact (Bloomer Girls teams of mostly women players did barnstorm across the country in the early 1900s), eight-time Spur Award winner Johnny D. Boggs blends America’s pastime with the American frontier. This episodic, tongue-in-cheek adventure showcases what made, and still makes, America and the Wild, Wild West great: Strong heroes. Stronger women. And a good, clean game.
They sing songs about Matthew Johnson. The hero of dime novels, Matt won national fame during a range war in Idaho when he shot and killed an outlaw—and former saddle pal. But the past seventeen years have been an alcoholic blur rather than a heroic journey. Gone are the days when he was a free-wheeling cowboy, swapping poems with his best friend on the cattle ranges. The West has modernized—and practically disappeared—when Matt arrives in Denver in 1894 as the newly appointed US marshal for the state of Colorado.
The cowboy turned lawman inherits a state on the brink of collapse. The silver crash has ruined the economy, railroaders are striking, a range war is looming, corruption is rampant, and a rumored gold strike on the Southern Ute reservation threatens to turn into a bloodbath. Slowly, Matt realizes why he got the job. His supporters figure that the man who killed Jeff Hancock will either stay too drunk to realize what’s happening or take their bribes and look the other way. After all, the songs being sung about Matthew Johnson these days are more insulting than glorifying. Instead of the hero who stopped a range war, he is usually thought of as a man who murdered his best friend in exchange for the appointment as Idaho’s US marshal. And he hasn’t been sober in years.
What no one has counted on is the love of a woman who has had her own share of hard times and bad decisions. Or the fact that there’s a special breed of man who will fight with his last breath to regain his dignity and self-respect. If Matt can overcome his demons and past, schoolkids might start singing a new verse to an old song.