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Braver Deeds Paperback – July 6, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Van Roekel awoke one morning in 1994 after reading Nathan Miller’s excellent biography of Theodore Roosevelt, and told his astonished wife Pam that he was going to write a novel. He was embarrassed that he had never heard of the African-American cavalry regiments and their history, especially during the Spanish-American War. Braver Deeds is the result. John recently finished his second novel, Prisoner Moon. Set in Michigan during World War II, it’s the story of a young German prisoner of war who finds friends and enemies on both sides of the barbed wire. For more information, see PrisonerMoon.com. Prisoner Moon is also available from CreateSpace at https://www.createspace.com/3885258. John is a retired software engineer. He and Pam live in sunny San Diego.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 452 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1463633378
  • ISBN-13: 978-1463633370
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,011,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In 1994 while living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, John Van Roekel finished reading Nathan Miller's excellent biography Theodore Roosevelt: A Life, and the next morning he told his astonished wife Pam that he was going to write a novel. Miller's description of the African-American cavalry soldiers who fought beside Roosevelt in Cuba inspired John to write Braver Deeds, published fifteen years later in 2009.

After moving to San Diego in 2001, John started work on his World War II home front novel, Prisoner Moon. It's the story of a young German soldier who is captured in France after D-Day and finds himself in a POW camp in Michigan. It was published in 2012.

John completed his third historical novel in 2016. Lorenzo's Assassin is set against the backdrop of the Pazzi Conspiracy when Pope Sixtus IV plotted to murder Lorenzo the Magnificent. Not withstanding the religious themes in Lorenzo's Assassin, John is not religious.

In addition, John has edited the World War II letters of his father, Paul Van Roekel. They are available on his web site.

After a forty year career as a software engineer, John retired in 2012. Much of his life now revolves around his wife, Pam Simpson, as well as writing, hiking and attending classes at SDSU and UCSD.

John is a proud member of San Diego Writers, Ink, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting San Diego writers. He urges all writers in the San Diego area to visit sandiegowriters.org.

More information about John is available at johnvanroekel.com and facebook.com/johnvanroekelauthor. John is available for readings and book club discussions in the San Diego area. Please email john@johnvanroekel.com.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
A dark horse, a black cavalry soldier, and a young Indian girl ... so begins John Van Roekel's Braver Deeds, a sweeping historical novel with all the action, adventure, and romance that characterizes a classic western epic. The story takes place in two different times -- at the beginning of the 1890's, where a young Buffalo soldier, Matt Davys, rescues a Lakota Sioux girl named Comes Running, who is injured during the famous massacre at Wounded Knee. The two young people connect in a way that is heartwarming and tender (Comes Running refers to Matt's curly hair as "tatanka," comparing it with the hide of the buffalo) and Matt develops a strong bond with her before helping her return to her people.

The second half of the novel begins eight years later, when Matt is a sergeant in Troop K of the Ninth Calvary Regiment. Struggling over whether he should marry his girlfriend, Jeanie, he reconnects with Comes Running and learns that she is leaving an abusive relationship with a member of her tribe to carve out a new life as an entertainer with Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show. Matt dodges the decision about marriage when he is sent to Cuba during the Spanish-American war and meets up with Carlos Estrada-Palma, a young Cuban photojournalist from New York, who is covering the war for Joseph Pulitzer's New York World. There the two men meet Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, along with novelist Stephen Crane. During that time, Matt corresponds with Jeanie and Comes Running, and struggles with his mixed feelings for both women before returning home to America.

The author weaves fascinating historical details into the stories of the three young characters, whose paths cross over multiple miles and major historical milestones in our country's history.
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Other reviews have already given a decent synopsis, so I won't repeat that. I downloaded this book and several others on the way out the door on a motorcycle vacation heading up into the Black Hills of South Dakota, and this turned out to be one of my favorite reads.

It's a solid historical novel that includes lots of local color and historical references, but I particularly enjoyed the fleshed-out characters. It kept me engaged all the way to the end.
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This is an extremely well-written insight into the late 1800's America and Cuba, particularly the so-called Buffalo soldiers. Very well researched: A book that is both educational but also a damn good story. I particularly liked the war scenes in Cuba, and learning about native American culture during those troubled times.

This is professional novel standard though it seems to be the author's first book. A great read.
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