Finding Billy Battles: An Account of Peril, Transgression and Redemption

Finding Billy Battles: An Account of Peril, Transgression and Redemption

by Ronald E. Yates


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Western Kansas, 1860. Billy Battles is born on a remote homestead just off the storied Santa Fe Trail. More than one hundred years later, a great-grandson inherits two trunks filled with Billy's personal effects. In those trunks are several secret journals that reveal an astonishing life of adventure and violence that until now was obscured by the haze of time and Billy's desire for secrecy. The journals tell of a man both haunted and hunted, who in a desperate search for peace and redemption, journeys far from the untamed American West to the Far East, South America, and Europe. In amazing detail, they describe Billy's interaction with a wide assortment of men and women—some legendary, a few iniquitous, and many lost to history. They also recount his participation in such cataclysmic events as the Spanish American War, turmoil in French Indochina, and violent revolutions in Mexico and South America. Complying with Billy's last request, the great-grandson assembles the journals into a compelling trilogy that reveals a man often trapped and overwhelmed by circumstances beyond his control, but who nevertheless manages to persevere for ten decades.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493130313
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
Publication date: 11/26/2013
Pages: 302
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

Ronald E. Yates is a former award-winning foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and dean emeritus of the College of Media at the University of Illinois, where he was also a professor of journalism. He is the author of The Kikkoman Chronicles: A Global Company with a Japanese Soul, published by McGraw-Hill. His books also include Aboard the Tokyo Express: A Foreign Correspondent’s Journey Through Japan, a collection of columns translated into Japanese, as well as two journalism textbooks: The Journalist’s Handbook and International Reporting and Foreign Correspondents. Yates lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in Japan, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, where he covered several major stories including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia in 1975, the 1989 Tiananmen Square tragedy in Beijing, and revolutions in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. He is a graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas.

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Finding Billy Battles: An Account of Peril, Transgression and Redemption 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
D.L. Finn More than 1 year ago
“Finding Billy Battles” is a historical fiction that takes us back to the days of the wild west. It is told through journals left to a great-grandson who reads them years after William Battles dies. Billy Battles was raised by a single mother. He takes a break from college to leave his home town and go work for a newspaper in Dodge City. He meets people we’re familiar with including: Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson--that are seamlessly weaved into the story. I have always loved to read a historical fiction book and lose myself in the past. Mr. Yates brought this time-period to life with lots of relevant details and plenty of action that completely drew me into this world. I highly recommend this book if you love stories about the old west or just enjoy a well-told tale.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Author Ronald Yates inherited an old trunk and a bunch of handwritten journals from his great-grandfather, Billy Battles, and unravelled an astonishing personal history! Within its pages were recounting of personal encounters with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and Bat Masterson, close acquaintances of Billy Battles. The journals were so compelling, so extraordinary, so clearly written that Yates decided to compile it all in this work of “faction”. Billy Battles was a man driven by external circumstances that always had reacting to one thing or another. From shoot-outs to confrontations with notorious outlaws and the sometimes “iffy” sheriffs who were obliged to enforce the law with sometimes colorful or controversial methods, this book was completely engrossing. I was fascinated with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday because they were described just as Billy experienced them, more authentically than any previous movie or novel. I loved the simple, in-your-face, vernacular style of the writing that truly showed me what Billy Battles was like, and the exciting wild world he lived in. This books lends great credence to the wild west lifestyle that existed. The book ends with Billy starting the next phase of his life, which definitely leaves the reader eager to read on, setting the state for the second book in the Billy Battles trilogy. For a first hand look at the wild west as it truly was experienced by the people who lived it, then this is the book for you. It truly is a wonderful masterpiece of American history! Highly recommended.
SPRcom More than 1 year ago
Finding Billy Battles is the story of a rather remarkable character who lived during the last part of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth. The book is fiction, but according to the author, draws heavily on the author’s family history. Nonetheless, the book reads like a novel and never seems like those, usually unsuccessful, attempts to interest other people in one’s own family stories. The book gets off to a somewhat slow start, using the frame device of Battles’ great-grandson finding his great-grandfather’s journals, but soon enough becomes a page-turner about a fascinating, multidimensional character and his struggle to get beyond the consequences of a gunfight that went terribly wrong. Battles is born on the Kansas frontier in 1860 and while still young moves with his mother (his father having died in the Civil War) to Lawrence, Kansas where he has a mostly normal childhood. While a student at what would eventually become the University of Kansas, Battles’ life takes a seemingly auspicious turn that ends up drawing him into dangerous and disturbing adventures that shape the rest of his life. Battles has a veritable talent for walking into trouble and spends much of this first book of a planned trilogy in unsuccessful attempts to live a quiet life. Occasionally poor decisions lead to Battles’ problems, but more often, young Billy just seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As the country grows and the frontier is settled, Battles also grows and attempts to settle, but unfortunately his troubled past continues to cause him trouble. As you might expect, there is plenty of Old West atmosphere here, but the book transcends the Western genre. Despite an abundance of gunfights and rough characters, Finding Billy Battles is more the story of a man dealing with the situations life throws at him than a story of life in the old West. Yates does, however, include a great deal of period detail—far more than most such books offer—including things you might not have thought of, such as details of train travel in the late 1800s and the gradual increase in modern conveniences, such as electric lights and indoor bathrooms. Real historical characters, both well-known and otherwise, make appearances, including Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Oscar Wilde. (Be assured, Oscar Wilde does not appear at the O. K. Corral.) The book is a little repetitive in places, and there is a great deal of frontier and Western slang, so much in fact that it becomes tiring and a bit distracting. Some variation on the phrase “go heeled” (which I learned only by reading this book means to carry a weapon) turns up dozens of times. Other phrases—”slyboots,” “blowpipe,” “sockdologer,” which at first are kind of neat, begin to seem forced when they are used page after page by almost all the characters. Having so many different characters using these terms weakens the characterization, which is otherwise excellent. I hope Yates will get this out of his system before the next installment. However, I must admit that my life is richer for having learned the word “snollygoster.” Despite these minor quibbles, I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys adventure tales, western or otherwise. Finding Billy Battles is well written and edited, nicely paced, with a believable main character readers will come to care about. The ending sets up the next installment nicely, without leaving you feeling as if you’ve been cheated of an ending.
Nook_Users_Book_Club More than 1 year ago
Ted Sayles is 12 when he meets his 98 year old great grandfather Billy Battles for the first time.  At the time as teenagers are prone to do he discards the importance of the man and his history. Billy leaves him his journals and belongings and ask him to write the truth. It is then that Ted begins to uncover what a fascinating man his grandfather actually was. This was a very engaging story. It reminded me of “Forrest Gump meets the Wild West”. Billy Battles starts out as a timid young man. As an only child to a widowed single mother who constantly overlooked his safety, he is looking to start on a grand adventure. His mother pushes him to the University because she sees an education as a way to keep him safe. However as the events unfold he is dragged into one incomparable situation after another. Traveling through the years he meets and becomes friends with several formidable people including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Bat Masterson. He also befriends many others that add to the story. The plot is not completely original but the execution is perfect. The story unfolds slowly but steadily with just enough information to not be overwhelming. The characters are very well developed. As a fan of the movie Tombstone, I could see and hear Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Doc in my head. This was a very entertaining read. I cannot wait to read the next part. *Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Ronald E. Yates for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced our review.
AnnS70 More than 1 year ago
I am so glad I found this book. How lucky we are that Billy kept those journals and that his great grandson had the skill to put them into a trilogy.  The wild west was such an interesting time, and this book captures the era in a way only someone who lived through it could. From the complex and interesting characters Billy meets along the way, to the lingo you never knew existed (but somehow makes perfect sense!). There is something about the way it is written that transports you back in time. You have to read it and experience it for yourself.  I was sad that it ended but happy I have two other novels to add to my "to be read" list.  Highly recommend to anyone, even if you aren't usually a fan of the genre.