A Short Review: Gone to Texas and The Vengeance Trail of Josey Wales

Gone to Texas and The Vengeance Trail of Josey Wales by Forrest Carte

I just completed a read of these two novels. Rich in detail that could have only come from exhaustive research, I believe these novels to be among the best westerns I’ve read. In tone, they reminded me in some ways of Larry McMurtry’s Comanche Moon and of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. This thought makes me think I should create future posts on these two novels as well. Though I’ve long had an interest in the Missouri Guerrillas of the Confederacy, and enjoyed reading the story of Bloody Bill Anderson, the Devil Knows How to Ride (about Quantrill), and viewing the movie (starring Jewel Kilcher) Ride with the Devil, I felt for the first time like I was inside the head of one of the Missouri Partisans. The particular volume I read contained both novels as well as an author’s preface and an afterword by Lawrence Clayton.  The Native American lore collected by the author and worked into the text was fascinating and comprehensive. I learned much more than I expected from this read. Here are some interesting phrases and quotations:

“A Missouri slapping” – (. p 381 hit with a pistol barrel)

About Geronimo: “it was said he was seen dancing with the mountain “gans,” the spirits” (360).

About the toughness of the Apache warrior: “The Apache warrior could run seventy miles a day, go five days without food. When he drank from a waterhole and slaked his thirst, he filled his mouth with water and after four hours of running, he swallowed it. It carried him fifty more miles without the swelling of his tongue” (358).

About the desert: “The desert brings darkness as it does death, quickly and without warning” (230).

Here’s a good description of the famous Rebel yell: “Laura Lee heard a sound that began low and rose in pitch and volume until it climaxed in a bloodcurdling crescendo of broken screams that brought pimples to her skin. The sound came from teh throat of Josey Wales . . . the Rebel yell of exultation in battle and blood . . . and death. The sound of the scream was as primitive as the man” ( 134)

There were so many other quotations, but perhaps these will pique your interest in reading these fine novels.  I know that in my next collection of historical fiction on the Civil War, at least one story will be about the Missouri partisans.