As All My Fathers Were

As All My Fathers Were

by James A. Misko


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(ADULT FICTION category)

Brothers Richard and Seth Barrett are devoted to running the family ranch on Nebraska's Platte River, and they plan to do so for the rest of their lives. But their mother's will requires them to travel by horse and canoe along the river to understand why their maternal grandfather homesteaded the ranch three generations earlier. From her grave, their mother also commands them to observe the harm that industrial farming has done to the land, air, and water.

The Barrett brothers’ journey is not to be a smooth one. A ninety-year-old bachelor farmer with a game plan of his own threatens to disrupt and delay the will's mandatory expedition. A neighbor rancher, using a gullible hometown sheriff and a corrupt local politician, seeks to thwart their plans and seize the property. In this turbulent novel, the Platte River—a mile wide and an inch deep—becomes its own character and lives up to its legend of being too thick to drink and too thin to plow.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780964082649
Publisher: Square One Publishers
Publication date: 10/03/2016
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 1,158,068
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

James A. Misko was born in Nebraska, then moved to Oregon and Alaska, completing what for him was a natural bridge to the frontier. He has worked as an oil field roughneck, a logger, truck driver, saw mill hand, teacher, journalist, real estate broker, and writer. With numerous published articles and five novels to his credit, he continues to work at being the best author of fiction he can be. Jim and his wife Patti live in Alaska during the summer and California in the winter.

What People are Saying About This

Stephen Maitland-Lewis

“Jim Misko has done it again. As All My Fathers Were is a masterpiece. This novel has everything a reader searches for in pursuit of a fine book—strong characters, brilliant dialogue, exciting plot, tension that bounces off every page, conflict, high ideals and villainy. In addition, by the end of the book, the average reader is far better educated and informed of a real-life issue of which the vast majority is uninformed.”

—Stephen Maitland-Lewis, award-winning author of Ambition and Emeralds Never Fade

James Alexander Thorn

"James A. Misko's recipe for a satisfying novel:

—Two aging brothers, set in their contrary ways.

—One odyssey by horseback and canoe through their family's past, with a crucial deadline to save their heritage.

—'Good ol' boy' villains conspiring to make them fail.

—One dying river.

—A conscientious author who knows the territory.

—Stir in saddle sores, exhaustion and suspense, and serve at just the right moment.

It's called As All My Fathers Were.”

—James Alexander Thorn, author of Follow the River

John P. Hagen

"Jim Misko’s As All My Fathers Were, set in 2014, with historical reference to the mid-1800s, the novel’s core is the story of a deceased family matriarch, Mae Barrett, and her passion to convert their farming philosophy from one of 'industrial methods' to 'sustainable agriculture.' Given this heady premise I can state the book still manages to achieve, at times, the momentum of an entertaining page-turner."

—John P. Hagen, author of Play Away Please

Howard Frank Mosher

"In Jim Misko's exciting new novel, As All My Fathers Were, two aging brothers set out by horseback up the beautiful but endangered Platte River. Their odyssey into the heart of the contemporary American West is both harrowing and inspiring. Anyone who thinks that old-fashioned storytelling in the tradition of Lonesome Dove and Cold Mountain has gone the way of the Platte River buffalo herd must read this fine novel." —Howard Frank Mosher, author of God's Kingdom

Nick Jans

"As All My Fathers Were is a refreshingly unapologetic, environmental polemic—one with living characters and a pulse. But far more remarkable than the story of two Nebraska farmers on a quest to save their land, is its author: an 80-something self-described gun-toting political conservative. Jim Misko’s condemnation of modern agribusiness bares an essential truth: Nature knows no politics, and we’re all in this together. Off in the distance, you can hear Edward Abbey, Rachel Carson, and the Platte River itself applauding."

—Nick Jans, author of A Wolf Called Romeo and member of USA Today's board of editorial contributors

Lynn Schooler

"A passion play for the New West, As All My Fathers Were gathers momentum the way a river grows, gathering substance with every bend and merging channel, and shines in its descriptive writing. This is Misko at his best."

—Lynn Schooler, author of Heartbroke Bay

Robert Masello

"In this tough but tender story of two estranged brothers—and their event-filled trek down Nebraska's Platte River—Misko simultaneously paints a memorable portrait, as incisive as it is illuminating, of America's disappearing past and its increasingly conflicted future."

—Robert Masello, author of The Romanov Cross

Dick Couch

"Jim Misko in his new novel, As All My Fathers Were, has given us a novel and unique portrait of the Platte River country, as well as some interesting characters to conduct the reader on this journey. Well done, Jim."

—Dick Couch, author of Act of Revenge and Always Faithful, Always Forward

Bryce Lambley

"As All My Fathers Were is highly recommended; it's a walk (or more accurately, a ride) down Memory Lane at the very same time as a bridge to the future. That's a tall order to fill, but Misko accomplishes it well and then some."

—Bryce Lambley, author of Platte River Driftwood

Andrew Neiderman

"What is extraordinary about Jim Misko's As All My Fathers Were is how he makes the land, Nature, practically a main character in his stories. You can't read his novels without feeling you've been in that world, and if you haven't, you envy those who have and still are. To do this, and still hold onto tension and the excitement of good storytelling with themes that have meaning to us, makes As All My Fathers Were a must read for anyone who wants to breathe fresh air."—Andrew Neiderman, author of The Devil's Advocate and the V.C. Andrews novels

Lisa Knopp

"If you want to know how the Platte River works, read James A. Misko’s absorbing and rambunctious tale of Seth and Richard Barrett, who must complete a journey up the river from its confluence with the Missouri to its source near North Platte, Nebraska, and back if they are to inherit the family farm. In As All My Fathers Were, you’ll learn the natural history of this once wild river that shaped the land and those who lived near it but in the past century has been broken by energy generation and the agricultural industry. Yet as Misko’s novel bears witness, the Platte still has the power to inspire the imagination and fine literature."

—Lisa Knopp, author of What the River Carries: Encounters with the Mississippi, Missouri, and Platte

Denis Bromley

"This is Jim Misko's best book [yet]. What a read. Accurate because of his knowledge of the area. Misko's devoted followers should double as new readers finish the last page. The interplay of characters, both virtuous and villainous, is great as a major family calamity looms."

—Denis Bromley, friend, follower and fellow Scotch drinker

Customer Reviews

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As All My Fathers Were 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
ElizabethMoritz 9 months ago
A good story teller makes you see his story, and often makes you want to make the journey to the place he’s telling you about. Jim Misko is that kind of story teller, born to it in the best, old fashioned sense of oral historians who shared their stories with us before we all got anesthetized by television and the internet. His story features two brothers who might be described as a little long in the tooth, who are dissimilar in temperament, and who together must make a horseback and canoe journey on the Platte River in Nebraska, within a defined period of time, in order to satisfy the quirky requirements of Mom’s will, or their ranch—one of the largest in the state—will go to Boys Town Nebraska. What could go wrong? Misko has given us the best elements of a good story: a farmer and a rancher who are unpredictable, a series of conflicts with a shady sheriff, and a greedy neighboring rancher who covets their ranch. There’s a plot with a ticking clock and the story’s settings hint of troubles from unsound water management as well as the unintended consequences caused by monocultures that rely on pesticides and chemical fertilizers. I promise you a great romp of a read, where the heroes match wits with their wily foes and although the characters get a happy ending, the larger cautions of smart environmental conservation and sustainable farming and ranching practices are not lost. They will stay with you long after you reach the end of Misko’s story. This story teller makes you think...and that is a good thing.
Steve Schullo 10 months ago
The author includes all of the necessary ingredients for a great story: tension, surprises, terrific plot and excellent subplots, working together for a goal, going against all odds, lots and lots of dialog, and when it’s all over the characters changed and the life of the community and the primary setting of the story, the Platte River goes on. Two brothers Richard and Seth are faced with a task they must complete in order to inherit their family’s ranch. Their mother left in her will that they must face the same difficulties and challenges that their great grandfather experienced when he founded the ranch. Ride horse and canoe across the state of Nebraska on the Platte in 61 days or less. That’s how long it took their great grandfather to complete his trip on the Platte. A prominent, and powerful, landowner is also interested in their ranch to increase his power and property in the community. He was able to use an attorney and the local Sheriff to create clever obstructions to keep the two brothers for finishing their trek. The author’s descriptions of the river are poetic and profound. I could feel the waves, powerful movement and hear the sound of the Platte. Jim does a terrific job of telling 90% of story through dialog. In this way, the story originates from what it is supposed to, the characters, not the author. But most important the ending sparked something magical. The ending is brilliant not for anything surprising or clever, but organic and believable. The characters changed for the better and began anew in a positive approach on what they have been doing for years, just as the Platte River itself. review by Steve Schullo
Skibee 11 months ago
What a wild, fun ride with lots of twists, turns, tension and unexpected surprises. This is a real page turner and a fast read. The characters were believable and well developed from the villains to the heroes. And you could really see and feel every trial and challenge this family faced. Loved the mother’s idea to send these boys on a quest to really help them understand what our forefathers faced. And to help connect those of us today who see the devastating environmental effects that are happening all around us. A perfect way to share important information we all need to pay attention to! Thank you Jim Misko.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being from Nebraska and living along the Platte river I found this book to be very interesting. Not only did Misko formulate a riveting tale about two brothers adventures along the Platte river but also posed environmental questions on how we are treating the river and land with our farming and industrial methods. Very thought invoking.
SLWH More than 1 year ago
As All My Fathers Were, by James A. Misko, beautifully marries the modern age crisis of pollution destroying our waterways and the tale of a family facing its own crisis’s and life changing decisions. I found myself pondering what would be the final outcomes, and soul searching my own heart with the very issues with which they wrestled. James Misko highlights the endangerment of the Platt River, leading the reader to look beyond the Platt to other waterways and question exactly how we will save them and restore them to their original purities. But, indeed, he crafts the subject around an adventurous story where the reader grows to cheer on and grow attached to the characters within it. When I was not reading, I found myself what the characters in the story were doing, as if they were real people in my life! When I was forced to lay down the book, I immediately looked forward to the moment when I could continue its reading. In fact, I was rather disappointed when I reached the last page and had to say good bye to the Barrett family.
Walter Grant More than 1 year ago
Mae Barrett, a rancher, had been a lover and protector of the land and river all her life. Troubled with the creeping abuse brought on by industrial farming, she challenged her two sons and adapted daughter to learn how the North Platte had been the life blood of the land and how the ecosystem had changed over the years and now in danger of being completely destroyed. In her last will and testament she revealed the requirements her heirs must meet, within a set timeframe, to inherit her land and wealth—otherwise, Boy’s Town would be the beneficiary. The challenge came as a total surprise and inconvenience; doubt of their ability to meet her demands weighed heavily on their minds. Mae’s sons had no choice; they were well past middle age and had nothing of their own and depended on their mother’s ranch for their livelihood, the daughter must risk her marriage. In an attempt to meet the conditions set down by their mother, the trio not only came to appreciate the land and the river, they learned to distinguish between their friends and adversaries, as they came to realize local corruption and collusion would have a hand in their fate. The question always on their minds: can we, will we, succeed?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this novel a great deal; it's a page-turner. I came to care a lot about the Barrett brothers and their journey. I had the novel on my nightstand and end table until I finished it because Misko reveals the Barrett brothers in insightfully skillful ways that develop them realistically as people. He consistently shows us who these brothers are because he believably creates what men such as these might think, say, and do, given the situations they face, rather than simply telling us who and what they are. I wanted to see how their story, and that of their sister and love interests, would turn out. And it's a compelling story. Two late middle-aged brothers who obviously care a great deal about each other but whose relationship has been strained by the younger one's alcoholism and past separation from the family. Now they face having to cooperate to save the family's ranch (a term which bothers me as I always hear eastern Nebraskans call their land-holdings farms) through a singularly unique and daunting challenge. They must complete a hundreds-of-miles odyssey on Nebraska's Platte River by foot, horseback and canoe in 61 days or less--because of terms laid out in their mother's will--or lose the land. All the while their efforts are being undermined by a traitorous attorney and a sexually-deviant sheriff who are supposed to be protecting their interests at home but are really playing the pawns of the local land baron who wants to add the Barrett's land to his ever-expanding empire. The novel has an epic-like story; it reminds me somewhat of Lonesome Dove because of its cast of memorable characters, its epic journey, and the sweeping panorama of its setting, although it is set only in Nebraska and not several states. If Misko had also succeeded in developing an overriding theme which arises from the brothers' quest, the novel would be even more powerful. The novel does provide, though, a compelling story about some of the important ecological issues which Nebraska currently faces, doing so in a way that avoids being preachy. It considers the questions of how to preserve Nebraska's vast water resources and arable lands in ways that will be productive far into the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent Book. A wonderful story of two brothers reconnecting with each other and the land they grew up on. Very vivid pictures of what is happening around them as they encounter and overcome the obstacles on their journey. I heartily recommend this book.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
James A. Misko treats his audience to over-the-top satisfaction in his latest novel, As All My Fathers Were. Mae Barrett has met her maker and made sure she left a daunting task for her sons Richard and Seth to complete if they planned to continue ownership and operation of the Barrett Ranch. It would seem her grown sons had a thing or two to learn about ranching. They needed to understand not only the critical role the mighty Platte River played in Barrett Ranch’s sustenance and future, but why their great grandfather homesteaded this particular piece of Nebraska generations before. Outlining specific details in her will to the boys, Mae details the conditions of a 61-day trek they must take by horse and canoe along the Platte. This journey isn’t simply an outing for the men to explore the landscape and camp as cowboys had generations before them. Rather, they are to observe the implications of industrial farming and its fierce impact it is having on the land, air and water that surrounds them. Unfortunately this isn’t the only challenge Richard and Seth have to overcome. Their wealthy neighbor, Klete Dixon, has coveted Barrett Ranch for many years. With Mae Barrett finally out of the way, the prospect of combining Barrett Ranch’s 6000+ acres with his existing 8000+ parcel is low hanging fruit he plans to pick. Klete Dixon gets giddy when he thinks about the possibility of not only continuing his reign as the wealthiest farmer in Plattesville, Nebraska, but soon he will be the largest landowner as well at the expense of Richard and Seth Barrett. When the brothers set out on their quest, it isn’t long before their party of two increases. Ninety-year-old Filoh Smith has his own agenda for joining forces with Richard and Seth. Like it or not, Filoh plans to provide an eye-opening education to the ‘boys.’ It’s time to impress the importance of redirecting their thinking as to just exactly how farming can be done with more than a touch of knowledge and respect for the land that has yielded their good fortune for many years. James Misko turns words into magical storytelling as he does a deep dive in the development of his Barrett brother characters. They are genuine and credible as much as they are opposites who work beautifully together. With the supporting foundation of the brothers’ legacy ranch I found myself often remembering another equally iconic cowboy story: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I was immediately consumed by this magnificent tale. While Richard and Seth Barrett may not be Gus McCrae and Captain Woodrow Call, their light and fire burns strong thanks to the constant life Misko breathed into each brother across the 400+ pages of As All My Fathers Were. There is an interesting application Misko uses to break scenes as he transitions from one chapter to the next. He assigns a voice to the Platte River. Short vignettes are written to chronicle the brothers journey and the messages are sentiments of the years of burden and abuse this river has endured at the hand of man.Quill says: Saddle up your doggies and ride the trail of As All My Fathers Were. It’s a page turning legacy that will be difficult to set aside until the last page is consumed!
NorthernLightMedia More than 1 year ago
Author Jim Misko drops you right into this compelling story, introducing the main characters and their complex interrelationships with a startling revelation. Two brothers in their sixties, ranchers Richard and Seth Barrett, and their adopted sister Ginny, gather on the afternoon their mothers' will is to be read. The family ranch, 8,000 acres along Nebraska's Platte River, homesteaded by their mother's father, is the setting. Their mother's attorney reads the will, and her words set in motion a trip which will change all of their lives. The two brothers are to make a journey, by horseback and canoe, hundreds of miles along the historic and ecologically-threatened river which becomes another character in the book. "They sat on the bank and the river went by. It was making sounds to itself and now it made sounds to them. It was the first time they had divorced themselves from other things and listened and they understood what the river was saying. The Platte is an old river. It has seen many things and lived through many things, but remained constant in a real way. It incorporated them traveling along its banks and nestled them near its bosom. The river had a proprietary interest in them and a lesson to instill. It had done that with Grandpa Melzer and it would with his grandsons." The journey seems a simple one at first, travel up the river and back, but there are villains in this story who will seemingly stop at nothing to deter the brothers from fulfilling the terms of their mother's will. A wealthy neighboring landowner seeking to add their ranch to his holdings, aided and abetted by corrupt local officials, plays a mean game and plans to win. "It's like chess–moving pieces around to block and stymie the opposition. Damn, it's fun." The title comes from a Bible verse, "Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee and a sojourner, as all my fathers were." The sojourners in this tale have lessons to learn, and to share, about the ways we live our lives, and the importance of living them thoughtfully. The exchanges and conversations about agribusiness and sustainable farming, wrapped in an engaging and often humorous story, provide lessons we should all take to heart.
Marcia33 More than 1 year ago
Weeks, no months after reading your latest and best book, I keep thinking of the arduous task set forth by both Mothers.... .the  boys' Mother and Mother Nature.  A great adventure of relentless strength and intrigue. A hard task beset with obstacles and danger. You had a beautiful scene to paint; with a palette and brush of words, creating a painting that will adorn my brain for many years. Thank you for that gift.  I look forward to your next landscape of words.                            
JohnKremer More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this novel. It kept me up several nights reading it when I should have been sleeping. - John Kremer
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great book!  An engrossing and wonderful adventure mystery that you cannot help becoming a part of.  You are there and you Identify with the situations and the characters.  As the story evolves it is both historical and current.   I followed along with the enclosed map and learned about the Platte River country during this great horse and canoe adventure.   I look forward to many more books like this from Jim Misko.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was an unexpected surprise! Not a typical read for me but it quickly wrapped me in and I didn't want to put it down! The book starts off with two brothers and their adoptive sister who have been given a task by their deceased mom in her will. If they want to inherit the farm, Ginny is to take care of the farm while the brothers go up the Platte River and back on foot, horseback and canoe. They must complete this task in a certain amount of days or the ranch is donated to Boys Town. In addition to the brothers, a sprite old man named Filoh joins them. At 90 years old, and both brothers not wanting him to join, he shows up on day 1 ready to teach these "youngsters" a lesson on the damage they are doing to the land. He, by far, became one of my favorite characters. His stubbornness, zest for life, and desire for adventure at 90 made him most likeable. Of course, not all characters are likeable. What good story doesn't have a bad guy or three? Corrupt Sheriff, lawyer with his hands in both pots and a money hungry landowner who is after the farm make for a terrible threesome that wreak havoc on Richard and Seth's journey. Try as they might, The brothers determination and desire to keep their ranch only grows stronger with each and every day. Not only do the brothers grow closer to each other but they grow closer to the land. They come to realize why their mother wanted them to take this journey and why their grandpa chose the location. I enjoyed reading information about the river specifically and how Misko discussed the positive role sustainable farming can have on our future. Misko paints a portrait in your head that is so vivid it is easy to get lost in the book and forget what time it is or even that your at home and not traveling with the brothers up the Platte. As a first read by this author, I was impressed and look forward to reading more by him. Even plan on purchasing some for gifts!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this aloud to my husband.  We stayed up until 2 am to finish the book.  We didn’t want the story to end.   It was a race to the end with villains, crusty characters, lovely ladies and a wise old voice all flowing together to create an enriching story.  A very satisfying read with humor, suspense and endearing characters.
Peg0 More than 1 year ago
I've always loved rivers ann sustainable farming is important to me, so this book was perfect .  The author was very knowledgeable about both and created an exceptionally inttriguing story.  I was unable to put the book down once I opened it.  A Very Good Read!
Newscenter More than 1 year ago
It's just like being there! I've never been on a horse -- or traveled along a big river -- or owned a farm. But with the authors vivid and moving descriptions it's just like being there. Very entertaining - non stop reading. When does his next book come out. I'll be standing in line!
Boodan More than 1 year ago
“What is extraordinary about Jim Misko's As All My Fathers Were is how he makes the land, Nature, practically a main character in his stories. You can't read his novels without feeling you've been in that world, and if you haven't, you envy those who have and still are. To do this, and still hold onto tension and the excitement of good storytelling with themes that have meaning to us, makes As All My Fathers Were a must read for anyone who wants to breathe fresh air.”               Andrew Neiderman, Author of 115 novels including The Devil's Advocate
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished "As all my Fathers Were". Great story that kept me wanting to be a part of the trip. I think it would be a great movie, showing all of the changes to the river over the years. Made me feel a little sorry for the River as well as all of those who live along its banks. Although the River is the setting for the story, your character development and twisting intrigue was what kept me glued to the book through New Years. Highly recommended.
SMaitland-Lewis More than 1 year ago
Jim Misko has done it again. As All My Fathers Were is a masterpiece. This novel has everything a reader searches for in pursuit of a fine book - strong characters, brilliant dialogue, exciting plot, tension that bounces off every page, conflict, high ideals and villainy. In addition, by the end of the book, the average reader is far better educated and informed of a real-life issue of which the vast majority is ignorant.
Bill_Eads More than 1 year ago
Jim Misko has written a great novel that puts the reader on horseback and in a canoe up and down the Platte River.  A master story-teller, the author has created some unforgettable characters and his descriptions of the territory is  remarkable. Bill Eads, author of When Flying Was Fun! and Lightning Flight!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
  Ever travelled 300 miles along a river on horseback and canoe? Can you describe even one mile of such a journey? Richard & Seth Barrett must perform such tasks to preserve the Barrett family's future. They must accomplish this while encountering and overcoming the underhanded attacks by a power hungry unseen adversary.   The story twists like the Platte River and flows to the conclusion. The obstacles are faced with laughter, anger, and tears throughout. It is a riveting tale of two men who must do this in 61 days or lose their inheritance. Weaknesses and strengths are discovered as they strive to complete the trip within the allotted time.   As All My Fathers Were is a memorable, meaningful, and touching adventure told by this master storyteller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jim Misko weaves a provocative story, conceptually simple, delightfully growing tensely complex each chapter. Reviewers were right on! Enjoyable for anyone who has been on a horse, likes the outdoors, is in business, or has a family....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jim Misko follows the river to a compelling story of family, discovery and suspense. Seldom does a river become a main character, but Jim bring home the importance of the environment and its care in human hands.