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Posted May 9, 2013
An entertaining and informative book.
I was very quickly drawn into the story. It was hard to put down so I could go to bed at night. I learned much about what life would have been like for the men who had fought in the Confederate army after the end of the Civil War.
I’m looking forward to reading Joe G. Bax’s next book, “A Texas Destiny: The Saga Begins.”
Posted June 2, 2010
"The General and Monaville, Texas" is a historical novel set in the reconstruction era following the United States Civil War. It is told through the eyes of John Ross, the teenage grandson of General Leander Wilhite who fought for the South and is now trying to put the war behind him and get on with the responsibilities of running a ranch. John tries to follow in his grandfather's footsteps and get on with his life but there are many things going on around him that he just doesn't understand. Who are the "Kluxers" and why do they want to hurt the freed slaves? Why does his grandfather no longer go into town and why does he seem to dislike the church ladies so much? Why are people always asking him how Miss Afton is when they could ask her themselves? As John Ross spends more time with his grandfather and other town elders such as Blue, and The Colonel, he finds the answers not only lead to more questions but also lead to his becoming an adult.
This is a well-written, character driven novel of a period in US history that many people know very little about. History books often gloss over the time directly after the civil war and rarely mention the beginnings of the Ku Klux Klan but author Joe G. Bax takes us there and gives us a sometimes startling, sometimes humorous, and oftentimes all too realistic glimpse into this tumultuous period of US history. If you like historical fiction that packs a punch then I highly recommend "The General and Monaville, Texas". It may be short but it delivers and I guarantee that once started you won't be able to put it down until you have read every last word.
Posted January 9, 2010
The General and Monaville, Texas is an excellent read. It is filled with little bits and pieces about life after the Civil War in a small town filled with veterans, ranchers, and sharecroppers growing cotton on the once fertile lands. The former slaves are struggling to find their place where they were formerly slaves. Others in town are not accepting of the new changes brought about by the loss of the war.
The reader senses a mystery between the town of Monaville and the General who brought most of the men who served with him home from the war, tried to put the past behind him, and move forward with his life. Things happen that won't allow him to do so. As John Ross learns the reasons why his grandfather refuses to go to town, the reader become caught up in a story that is deeply intriguing.
The General is an enigma to his grandson, John Ross, the main character in this novel. Seen through the eyes of John Ross, the reader is drawn into the story on many levels. As he comes of age and becomes more aware of the undercurrents of life both at the ranch and in town, he becomes more curious about his grandfather. Among the many people he asks in his search for answers Blue, the blacksmith in town, and Momma Mae, resident cook at Catalpa Plantation. He is given vague answers by everyone he asks, including his grandfather's best friend, the Colonel.
The tension builds as the Klan becomes more active in the community. One of the local churches, just outside of town, becomes the focus the General's attention. As John Ross becomes his grandfather's eyes and ears, he is quickly drawn into the conflict that has been brewing in the community since the end of the war. Secrets are revealed as the conflict reaches the climax of the story. It is a novel that grips the reader's attention from the first page until the end. This is a must read for anyone interested post-Civil War history in general or Texas history in particular.
Posted January 8, 2010
I'm always dubious when I begin reading a Civil War or Reconstruction era novel, as I believe any good reader should be. It's a sensitive subject, even a century and a half after the fact, and yet fiction writers tend to wield it like their own personal canvas, shaping it to reflect a personal conviction. To some extent this is unavoidable, but it's easy for writers to cross that line into becoming exploitative. Thankfully, Joe G. Bax gets it right. His novel, "The General and Monaville Texas" manages to represent several sides of the conflict without overstepping its bounds as an entertaining and enlightening fiction.
The story is told by a young lad named John Ross who was too young to have fought in the Civil War and is daunted by the changing times that he's being brought up in. His grandfather, The General, takes him under his wing to explain some of the terrible atrocities that occurred throughout those dark days, and encourage him to build a brighter future for the Catalpa Ranch. This isn't easy, of course, since the end of the war has flushed a new population of former slaves into the area, forcing out some of the weaker white croppers who take offense and begin waging a private war in Monaville.
The tension of the novel leads to some really wonderful scenes involving The General, who sticks up for the free blacks in the face of the Ku Klux Klan, known in Monaville as "the Kluxers". But it also presents fertile ground for exploration of the moral failings of men on both sides of the conflict. Bax is not content to paint of simple portrait of such a complex period. The District Attorney is a Yankee who has political dealings with some of the Kluxers and creates a tighter situation for the General and his family by allowing them to kill and steal at their leisure.
The story is full of vibrant characters who feel at once alive and mythic in their stature, the way that Clint Eastwood appears in Sergio Leone's famous 'Man with No Name' trilogy, or John Wayne's infamous role of Rooster Cogburn. It's clear that, being a rancher himself, Bax is intent on exploring the period from the point of view of innocence in as much as he is intent on creating a movable story arch. He does tend to get too caught up in conversation, as though the author is as intrigued by the things the General has to say as his readers, to a point where he is unable or unwilling to rein him in at times. But this is easily forgivable as the General, Blue, the Colonel, Momma Mae, and the rest of the cast are so likable.
A well-paced story and even-handed portrayal of what is perhaps the darkest period of our nation's history make "The General and Monaville, Texas" a lightening strike among legions of similar novels. Its characters are lofty, and in the end strike the desired chord in the hearts and minds of the reader. It's clear that in Joe G. Bax that Emerald Book Co. has found a storyteller from the gut with one helluva debut.
Posted November 5, 2009
Wow! I really enjoyed this one! If you ever wondered what film writer/director Quentin Tarantino would do with a movie about post Civil War Reconstruction Texas, Joe G. Bax gives us a pretty good idea in his novel The General and Monaville, Texas.
The book is film noir through and through, but you don't begin to figure that out until near the end of the book. Even the book's dust jacket makes no sense until the end of the book. The book reads like a screen play right down to the last close up shot at the end of the movie, ...uh book.
The book is historical fiction in that it does give the reader a much clearer understanding of the social changes that occurred in the South during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War. It is a picture that the reader may never have gotten in their American History classes. I had never really connected all these dots before myself until reading The General and Monaville, Texas.
Beyond that the book is almost completely fiction. Don't look for General George Custer in Waller County at Liendo Plantation. He's not in the book. Don't look for anything approaching historical fiction about Waller County, Texas. Waller County is not in the book. Bax borrows the name of the town of Monaville, Texas and the Brazos River Bottoms and its all fiction after that right down to the courthouse in Monaville. Or is it?
We will just have to wonder if Joe G. Bax knew anything about Texas founding father, Edwin Waller, or not.
Buy the book! Read the book! Enjoy the book!
Quentin make the movie!
Posted August 11, 2009
"The General and Monaville, Texas, is a romping-good read from start to finish. The characters are real, the dialogue is crisp, and the storyline is beautifully conceived and skillfully developed. Anyone who enjoys a good, fast-paced historical novel will find it difficult to put down. More serious readers of Texas history in the post-Civil War period will also find much to like about this book. Seldom have the human relations of those turbulent times been portrayed so vividly and, in my mind, realistically. College and high school teachers looking to liven up their reading lists for their Texas and U.S. history courses would do well to consider this book."Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 7, 2009
"The General and Monaville, Texas" is a fast paced book that you will find hard to put down! The book takes place in post Civil War Texas and combines the experiences of returning Confederate soldiers, former slaves, Northern entrepenuers, and the formation of the "Kluxers" into a riveting tale involving tradegy, love, and how a man of character can make a difference. As told through the eyes of a boy who is on the brink of becoming a man, "The General of Monaville, Texas" is a well written story that will have you have you on the edge of your seat till the last page and leave you wanting to know more! A must have for any history buff, and a welcome addition to any library!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 11, 2009
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (7/09)
"The General and Monaville, Texas" is a skillfully blended mix of historical fiction, humor, race relations, coming of age, revenge, and retaliation. The book is a literary work of fiction set in the reconstruction era immediately following the Civil War, the freeing of the slaves, and the repercussions of facilitating this freedom in the areas surrounding Monaville, Texas.
The story is narrated by the young teenage grandson of General Leander Wilhite. The General has returned to the family plantation, Catalpa, to resume his life, hoping to put the war behind him. He assumed responsibility for the horses and livestock and turned the cotton fields and management of the sharecroppers to his son to oversee. The General virtually withdrew from society and fell into a set pattern to carry out his chosen responsibilities.
Young John Ross is faced with unanswered questions. The slaves have been officially freed; however, some of the citizens of Monaville cannot accept this as fact. There is an undercurrent of racial tension as the Klan seeks to undermine the competition of the new regime of former slave sharecroppers.
Joe Bax combines humorous incidents of a budding friendship, gossiped "romance" with his classmate Miss Afton, his twin sisters, enduring church services, a turtle farm project, and a buffalo roping contest.
Using the vernacular of dirt poor white sharecroppers, and former slaves Bax introduces genuine characters like, Blue, Momma Mae, the Weiberg family, Ocy McCoy, and Big Charlie. Other key characters include: John Ross' parents Luther and Devon Wilhite, The Colonel, Dale, Broken Feather and Rack.
As the tension builds, the "Kluxers" add to their acts of destruction and torment to malicious murder. They kill an innocent son of Blue, a former slave, in an attempt to retaliate the death of McCoy's son. The sheriff and Yankee district attorney join in the conspiracy to indict and convict Colonel Reams Whitworth of murder. The General personally senses the need and is called on to take action against the planned injustice.
Joe G. Bax writes with feeling. He involves the emotions, develops genuine characters that are believable allowing the reader to identify with them. He has carefully crafted a plot which builds to a crescendo of suspense and an unexpected climatic conclusion.
"The General and Monaville, Texas" by Joe G. Bax is destined to become an award-winning, literary best-seller. This is a book that should be in the library of every public school, and on the required reading list of every teacher and professor who teaches American Civil War History! Phenomenal writing, engaging reading.
Posted August 9, 2009
No text was provided for this review.