Many a River

by

Author:  Elmer Kelton

Title: Many a River

Genre:  Western

Publication Date:  2008

Number of Pages:  335

Geographical Setting:  Texas and New Mexico

Time Period:  Civil War era

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  The story of the Barfield brothers, who are small children traveling west when Comanche Indians attack their family and kill their parents.  Todd is taken by the Indians and sold, while Jeffrey manages to hide and is eventually picked up by some traveling militiamen and given a home.  The book follows the lives of each boy through adolescence as they get caught up in the drama of the Civil War in the Southwest.

Subject Headings:  Civil War period, Brothers, Indians of North America, Comanche Indians, Comanche Indians- Captivities, Mexico, Confederate States of America, The Civil War, Coming-of-Age Stories, Western Stories

Appeal:  Densely written, detailed characterization, multiple points of view, complex story line, episodic, gentle, detailed setting, historical details, candid, simple, clean, stirring

3 terms that best describe this book: Densely written, Solid historical details, Multiple points of view

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

 Manifest Destinies:  America’s Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War– Steven Woodworth

A history of the 1840s, Manifest Destinies discusses how the acquisition of western territories forced the nation to come to grips with the approaching Civil War.

Rebel Private:  Front and Rear:  Memoirs of a Confederate Soldier– William A Fletcher

This surviving journal of a Confederate footsoldier details what life was really life in the trenches of the Civil War.  This memoir is a true-life version of Todd and Jeffrey’s time with the soldiers during the Civil War.

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History– S.C. Gwynne

This book is the story of the Comanche Indians, and their battle with the American settlers for control of the West.  Would be a good choice for readers interested in the tribe that attacked the Barfields and kidnapped Todd.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Telegraph Days– Larry McMurtry

The story of two siblings orphaned by their father’s suicide who must move from their prosperous ranch to the nearby town and start new lives.  Telegraph Days is another descriptive Western story about siblings starting over after tragedy.

Runaways– Andrew Fenady

Fleeing the devastation of the Civil War, Shad Parker shuts himself away on his farm in Texas. The arrival of three orphans during Christmas week of 1867 gives him something to live for.  This inspiring novel features the same type of happy ending for young orphans in the West.

The Shadow of a Noose– Ralph Compton

Young twins Jed and Tim Strange set out to find their sister, who left home to avenge their father’s murder over a year ago. But when they’re accused of a murder they didn’t commit, they must go on the run to find the true killers.  This is another descriptive, atmospheric Western tale like Many a River.

Name:  Becky Ozinga

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