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A Novel of the Pleasant Valley War
Published by: TCU Press
256 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: June 2020 You will be redirected to our distributor, Texas A&M University, to purchase this book.
Reader Views Bronze Award for Historical Fiction
Reader Views Western Mountain Regional Award Winner
Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, Second Place, Western Fiction, 2021
The SPR Book Awards, Finalist 2021
National Indie Excellence Awards, Western Fiction, Finalist 2021
American Book Fest's Best Book Awards, Western Fiction, Finalist 2021
The Feudist: A Novel of the Pleasant Valley War is both a traditional Western—tense, authentic, fast-paced—and an anti-Western that tells the story of what was perhaps the bloodiest range war in US history, Arizona’s 1880s Pleasant Valley War. The narrator—a small-time rancher named Ben Holcomb who reflects back on his adolescent experiences—begins the story as a stockboy in Globe City, Arizona. Bored with his job, he agrees to become an apprentice cowboy. His journey to his employer’s ranch leads him into a smoldering range war. Over the next year, he rides with a charismatic trickster; a Texas “colonel” and his idealist daughter; a polygamous Mormon elder with a teenaged wife; and a winsome, mixed-race cowboy who is deeply embroiled in the feud. Though Ben tries to stay out of the quarreling, he finds himself embroiled as he stumbles through passionate love, devastating loss, and moral uncertainty. Herman’s attention to historical forces, his spare style, his self-deprecating narrator, and his authentic characters give the novel a verisimilitude that transcends the genre Western and far surpasses Zane Grey’s 1922 romance about the Pleasant Valley War, To the Last Man.
“Graham-Tewksbury Feud historian Daniel Herman’s most recent work, The Feudist: A Novel of the Pleasant Valley War … is a historical novel that tells the story of a fictional character, Ben Holcomb, who ventures into Pleasant Valley and gets drawn into the feud. Through several twists of fate he finds himself connected to all the parties involved including the Grahams, Tewksburys, the vigilantes, lawmen and even the Mormons. The author cleverly mixes several real people, including the Blevins, Grahams and Tewksburys, with fictional names for real people that the discerning reader can easily recognize. Herman has crafted a wonderfully written story of the many elements, characters and participants of the West’s most famous and deadly feud. His insightful storytelling and expertise on the real story of the Pleasant Valley War are evident." —Marshall Trimble, Arizona State Historian and True West’s “Ask the Marshall” columnist
"The Feudist by Daniel Herman is an exciting and breathtaking western that grabs your attention from the first page. The narrative is descriptive which sparks every one of your sense. The characters have been created with the utmost care and consideration with fantastically detailed backstories. The authentic dialogue reflects not only the view and values of each personality but also life in 19th-century Arizona."—excerpt from Lesley Jones's review for Readers' Favorite
“The story just sings … Herman’s dialogue is absolutely amazing.” —Melody Groves, author of She Was Sheriff; Ropes, Reins, and Rawhide: All About Rodeo; and the Colton Brothers series, among other books.
“A classic coming of age tale set amidst the violence and despair of the Arizona frontier. With authentic characters, fascinating situations, and spare prose, Dan Herman has delivered a wonderful western in the tradition of John Williams' Butcher's Crossing.” —John Mack Faragher, author of Eternity Street: Violence and Justice in Frontier Los Angeles.
“Like Kelton's The Day the Cowboys Quit, The Feudist evokes historical realism and vitality that move the reader beyond mere facts to the pathos, pain, and complexities of the time. You'll enjoy the ride.” —Richard W. Slatta, author of Cowboys of the Americas, The Cowboy Encyclopedia, and Cowboy: The Illustrated History, among other books.
"Herman's mastery of the story and splendid prose style (to say nothing of his uncanny ear for Western dialogue) make this an enormously satisfying read." —Andrew Graybill, Co-director, Clements Center for Southwest Studies, author of The Red and the White: A Family Saga of the American West.
"I am usually able to ascertain within reading 10 pages of 'Western' based books whether it's well-written; this one only took me 2 pages! The way the book incorporates a narrator was Herman’s first brilliant move. It sounds as if you're not just reading a book but you're a part of the book! His second brilliant move is expressing the facts of the story without any mistakes. . . . As a side note, I actually performed some research as I was reading to verify the factual history (Yes, I'm that type of reviewer). I'm purposely not revealing a lot of other detail about this good story and you'll thank me for that when you read the book. Finally, I believe that any potential student who wishes to study the 'art of writing' read this book. The syntax, verbiage, flow patterns, paragraph and chapter spacing and introduction injections is superb!" —excerpt from Robert Leon Davis's review for Reader Views