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Tree Soldier [Kindle Edition]

J.L. Oakley
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $3.99
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Book Description

One mistake can ruin a life. One mistake can transform it.

A government forestry camp set deep in the mountainous forests of the Pacific Northwest might not seem the likely place to find redemption, but in 1935, Park Hardesty hopes for just that.

Blaming himself for the fiery accident that caused his brother’s disfigurement and the death of the bootlegging woman he loved, planting trees, building bridges and mentoring tough, homesick New Jersey boys brings him both penitence and the renewal of his own self-worth. When he wins the love of Kate Alford, a local naturalist who envisions joining the Forest Service, which allows only men, he also captures the ire of a camp officer who refuses to let her go. Just when he is ready to seek his brother’s forgiveness, he is falsely accused of rape. Every aspect of his life he has tried to rebuild is put in jeopardy. In the end, the only way he can defend himself is to tell the truth about his brother, but he risks being kicked out of the camp. Worse, he could lose Kate’s love forever.

Editorial Reviews


A man running from his past, a woman too independent for her era, a man blinded by jealousy, and a rowdy cast of streetwise Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps teenage boys coalesce in this boisterous blend of mystery, romance and - though not quite realized enough - American economic history... its disparate threads of mysterious past and romantic present are tied up with an emotionally satisfying resolution.

~ PW May 2014

Oakley constructs this rugged romance with tremendous care, fully developing its characters, particularly the honorable Hardesty, and building moments of tension in an engaging and entertaining novel.
~PW Select January 2012

...the characters are complicated and convincing, and the overall narrative is solid, providing a nice balance of macho rough-and-tumble, romance, and period detail. I'm always glad to see more Northwest-based fiction, and "Tree Soldier" is well worth reading.
~Barbara Lloyd McMicheal for the Bellingham Herald, December 26, 2011.

From the Author

Thank you for coming by my Author page. I love writing about and researching history, in particular about my part of the world, the Pacific Northwest, though my first novel, The Jossing Affair, is set in WW II occupied Norway.

Researching history is like a CSI hunt. You just don't know what you are going to find in an archive or a family papers. It leads to wonderful discoveries and stories, such as my great-grandfather's role as a Union surgeon at Gettysburg. Writing about history is about craft and I have spent many years improving mine through conferences, writer's workshops and author talks at my local indie book store and libraries. Each rejection letter or contest win brings me closer to a better novel or article. It is a joy to have won the 2012 EPIC ebook award  and a grand prize from Chanticleer Book Reviews for historical Fiction for Tree Soldier. Even more for the libraries of the Lewis and Clark Valley choosing the novel as their Everybody Reads 2013. I visit 7 libraries in November, telling stories about the CCCs in their area.

I've traditionally published personal essays ranging from the dreams of four generations of women in my family to doing drywall after the sudden loss of my husband. "Dry Wall in the Time of Grief" was the top winner in non-fiction at Surrey International Writers in 2006. My articles on Washington State history are at "The Boys of Glacier" was part of the award winning 2013 summer issue of Mount Baker Experience Magazine.

An historian and educator, I  teach everything from splitting shakes to making butter to 3rd graders, research the life of the ANN PARRY, a 19th century West Coast bark and give talks on the CCCs for Humanities WA. When I am not writing, I love to garden and eat the fruits of my labor. Winter brings out my favorite plant, the helebore, so hardy in my neck of the woods.
She lives in the Pacific Northwest and writes every day. No matter what.

Product Details

  • File Size: 827 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004C44F0Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #699,081 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tree Soldier Heartfelt Hit November 23, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
Tree Soldier is not only a factually accurate account of an often-forgotten piece of our shared American heritage, but in addition, Author Janet Oakley has crafted characters that are at once believable and real. This reader will forever be enamored of key figure Park Hardesty. Tree Soldier has an enjoyable pace that moves along smoothly. And the ending is simply a feel-good experience done exceptionally well.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By Mexall
Format:Kindle Edition
Historian and writer J. L. Oakley has crafted a compelling story set in Western Washington during the Depression. Underfed youths escaping the poverty of Eastern cities for a job with the Civilian Conservation Corps face an unfamiliar landscape and sometimes hostile locals. Under the leadership of Park Hardesty, "Joisey Squad" eventually finds respect and satisfaction in performing hard and sometimes dangerous work. Park is seeking a more personal redemption, and his search leads him to the love of his life.

Oakley creates the period with authentic details, like the slang the Corpsmen use, but her exacting research -- she interviewed several surviving CCCers -- does not get in the way of a rousing tale with well-developed characters.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read January 29, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was a great book that I really enjoyed reading. I'm originally from the Pacific Northwest, and it brought back memories of living there, and visiting my grandparents who lived in the middle of twenty acres of woods. You could almost smell the pine when reading.
The characters were interesting, and I liked that even though this story was in the past, there was a strong female character who really knows what she wants in life.
A quick and enjoyable read and I hope to read other books by this author.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tree Soldier: Love and Brawling in Depression-era NW December 24, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"Tree Soldier " proves one CAN judge a book by its' cover! This historical novel unfolds around Park Hardesty, an east-coast college drop-out haunted by his past, who works his way to the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camps of the Pacific NW forests. Here, through a hair-raising series of 'switchbacks' - both literal and emotional, Park finds love, acceptance, and redemption among his fellow 'tree soldiers'. Kudos to author J.L. Oakley for a masterfully wrought masterpiece that both instructs and inspires.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grand Prize Winner of CBR Blue Ribbon Awards Novels September 5, 2012
In this action-packed, emotionally charged historical novel titled "Tree Soldier," J.L. Oakley takes us back to the era of the Great Depression. With millions of Americans unemployed, President Franklin D. Roosevelt devised a New Deal work relief program called the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Some three million unmarried young men went to work in CCC camps across America--building roads and bridges, establishing flood control, and replanting depleted forests. Of the men's $30 monthly paychecks, $25 was sent to help their desperately poor families.

Oakley skillfully weaves this history into a suspense building story of love, forgiveness, and redemption. The story commences with the arrival in 1935 of a new squad of 'Tree Soldiers' at Camp Kulshan, a CCC forestry camp in the rugged North Cascades, near the little village of Frazier, Washington.

While most of the new recruits are sort of rough teenagers from urban New Jersey and New York, our protagonist is a college student who left school and his farm home in eastern Pennsylvania to join up. The strong and handsome John Parker Hardesty has more than a paycheck on his mind, however. The pensive young man, who sometimes seeks solitude in the forest, is trying to escape his nightmare memories of two tragic events in his life. His fellow recruits nonetheless respect the polite, clean-cut, Park who can also hold his own in the physically competitive proving ground environment of camp life. Many of the new recruits seek out his company, especially a wiry, 18-year-old Italian kid named Mario Spinelli, who takes the upper bunk above Park. Before long Park becomes the squad's "straw boss."

Camp Kulshan is no fun summer camp.
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tree Soldier, a Winning Tableau of the 1930s May 31, 2011
I stayed up late yesterday so I could finish Tree Soldier. It's a real page turner!!! I found it absolutely fascinating... and Janet Oakley's writing is captivating! It makes me want to go up Mt. Baker Highway and check the locations and legacy of CCC. I like the way the historical details are intertwined with the storyline, down to figures of speech of the 1930s. The characters were superbly developed, true to life, whether complex or simplistic, subtle or bold, each with their hurts and hopes; my affection for the more endearing ones grew with each chapter, as I also feared for them. The flow and structure of the novel takes the reader step by step from an overview of the CCC camps and life in the Northwest to the struggles and frustrations that eventually lead to dramatic events. Some of those characters are willing to swing the bridge at the right frequency until something gives... one just hopes that they're the ones who go down with it! Now what happens between the end of that summer and the CCC reunion 50 years later??? Ms. Oakley, Congratulations for painting a moving tableau of hope, trust and redemption during the Depression, and Thank You for researching and bringing the local history to life in such an elegant and convincing manner.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Tree Soldier is a good read
The Tree Soldier intertwined fiction and nonfiction. The Author is very knowledgeable regarding the introduction and history of the CYC into the Pacific North West. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Kim Bittner
5.0 out of 5 stars What a find among newer authors!
Always -- whenever Janet Oakley writes a story of any type, I shall read it immediately! What a find among new authors! Read more
Published 20 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I recommend this interesting story about the CC's important role in...
I grew up in Montana with older parents who survived homesteading (as children) and the Great Depression. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Karen L. Carr
4.0 out of 5 stars Let's hear it for the Tree Soldiers!
First of all, I believe this novel should be dedicated to all the men who once served in the CCC as tree soldiers. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jon
5.0 out of 5 stars Relationship, Friendship, Love, Loss, and redemption
The mountains and forests of Washington give birth to hope for young men who have lost it. Motives, guilt, isolation, and the redemptive healing of unconditional friendship and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by JCF
5.0 out of 5 stars for me was a easy read and lets see what the next page brings
To me highly interesting, I had only heard about CCC Camps and never knew their purpose, for me was a easy read and lets see what the next page brings.
Published 5 months ago by waltlat@
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story, well-told!
What a beautiful story! I read this while camping near Darrington this summer, and it starts off right away with an encounter of a bear that raised the hair on my neck . . . Read more
Published 6 months ago by Selah
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, with rich characters!
I loved this book! I learned so much about the CCC. The characters were really well developed and the story was compelling. This book should definitely be made into a movie. Read more
Published 7 months ago by S. Hice
5.0 out of 5 stars I just finished Tree Soldier and loved it!
I just finished Tree Soldier and loved it!!!! Thank you so much for capturing the essence of this area at that time. . . I can absolutely close my eyes and see it all. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Marsha K. Davidson
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it! You'll love it!
Just loved it! The history, the romance, the character development. I know these people, and I adore them.
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, listening to my mother's stories of life in early 20th century Idaho. Several of them were about the boys from "New Joisey" occupying a side camp up the creek from her uncle's ranch. Desperate boys from back East, they were members of the Civilian Conservation Corps doing reclamation projects in the rugged area of the Salmon River. From these stories came TREE SOLDIER, set in 1930s in the North Cascades Mountains of Washington State.

TREE SOLDIER won best historical fiction in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards and the grand prize (August 14 2012)at Chanticleer Book Reviews. It was picked as a Bellingham Reads (Bellingham WA) and Everybody Reads (Asotin County Library & Lewiston, ID for November 2013! One reviewer wrote:

"In this action-packed, emotionally charged historical novel titled Tree Soldier, J.L. Oakley takes us back to the era of the Great Depression...Tree Soldier will draw you in and keep you turning the pages."

Tree Soldier quarter finaled in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. It is now an audiobook.

I'm proud to be the recipient of the 2013 Bellingham WA Mayor's Award for writing and history. Currently I'm a Humanities Washington speaker, speaking on the CCCs in that state from 1933 to 1941.

TIMBER ROSE, prequel to TREE SOLDIER, was just published on Createspace and on Kindle.

A novel about WW II in Norway is being edited and new novel is in the works. Did I say I love history?

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