Shalom on the Rangeby Michael S. Katz
Shalom on the Range portrays the romantic Wild West with historical accuracy, realistic action, and irreverent humor. David Goldstein is a railroad detective investigating a train robbery near Denver, Colorado in 1870. His journey exposes him to different forms of anti-Semitism and makes him question his preconceived notions of what it means to be a Jew and a human being.
- Strider Nolan Pub Inc
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)
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When David Goldstein, a detective for the Kansas-Pacific Railroad, is assigned to investigate a train robbery in Colorado which took the lives of 22 people, he has high hopes of making a name for himself and furthering his career with a successful resolution to the case. It is his first visit west of Kansas, and while he expects to encounter anti-Semitic sentiment and outright prejudice because of his race, he is also hoping to forge connections with a successful Colorado Jewish businessman based solely on their shared religion. Unfortunately for David, that connection is harder to make than he imagines and will have to be based on his personal merits, rather than his race. Readers will find David an endearing, though sometimes bumbling character, a ¿tenderfoot¿ whose knowledge of the West comes mainly from his dime novel reading¿which he calls ¿research.¿ He has the not-uncommon fault of picking out flaws in others, without recognizing them in himself. Therefore, he is quick to take offense at insults to his Jewish race, but doesn¿t recognize that his own preconceived notions are just as offensive to others. To David, Germans are ¿hardworking, industrious, fair, and very clean.¿ The Chinese all run laundries, and the Irish could make much of themselves ¿if they weren¿t so tempted by alcohol.¿ David puts his foot in his mouth repeatedly, to the point where he ends up defending himself from accusations of racism. This is when one of his new companions assures him, ¿You¿re not a racist. You¿re just not very good with people.¿ And the West is filled with all varieties of people¿Jews, Germans, Swedes, Ute Indians, Apache, Chinese, former Union soldiers, buffalo soldiers, and even a Southern belle-turned Pinkerton spy. David¿s search for the train robbers takes him across Colorado and into New Mexico, in the company of the tracker he hired, sharpshooter Red Parker, and Red¿s chosen partners, the dim-witted Jake and the sharply intelligent Ute Indian, Harvey White Crow. Along the way, readers will encounter a fascinating backdrop of Western history, neatly woven into a story which is part Western, part comedy, and part detective story. Because behind all the shoot-outs and ambushes, there is also a mystery: How much money did the train robbers actually take from the train? Who hired them? And which one of David¿s companions might have more up his sleeves than his arms?
Although I live in Albuquerque, NM, I am not an avid reader of western novels, but just the title of this book piqued my interest, and as a resident of the area of the Wild West in which Michael Katz' Shalom on the Range is set, I wanted to see if he got it right historically. I quickly found that not only did he get it right, his plot was well researched, his polished writing style and his excellent character descriptions hooked me into the story to the point I couldn't lay the book down. The reader will wonder how the young railroad investigator-- an ignorant, and sometimes arrogant Jewish tenderfoot from Philadelphia, can possibly survive until the next page in his quest to bring the bad guys to justice, even with the able help of the grizzled old bounty hunter and his insulting and comical side-kick, along with the pretty female Pinkerton detective and stoic Indian tracker, all trying to keep him alive and out of trouble from one wild, guns blazing confrontation to the next. Train robbers, good Indians, bad Indians, a biting horse and saddle sores, the action never stops. Mr. Katz also does an excellent job of informing the reader of the ethnic prejudices of the time and the huge part played by the early Jewish merchants in opening up the primitive and lawless territory that has become'more or less civilized'modern Colorado and New Mexico. Part detective story, part shoot-'em-up, part history with some unexpected twists that will surprise, Mr. Katz has given us a fun read, and I'm looking forward to the sequel he has promised. Charles L. Lunsford is Author of Departure Message & Boxcar Down: The Albanian Incident
What a fun book! Very funny characters and some really good shootouts. Yet the parts where the characters learned about each other's cultures or religions were really interesting, and made them seem really human. All in all, an excellent book. Like the last reviewer said, I can't wait to see more of this series.
I could not put the book down! Mr. Katz's attention to historical detail was great! His writing style was fresh and enjoyable. Hope there is another book on the way!