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Ride With the Devil (Classic Screenplay) Paperback – September, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Classic Screenplay
  • Paperback: 143 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (September 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571201636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571201631
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,875,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Finally and at last, the border war of Missouri/Kansas is having its story told. Here were no magnificent lines of battle with brave banners and an awe-struck foe admiring the fatal advance. Here were no bugle calls, no gold braid uniforms or gentleman officers in plumed hats. This was a dirty, vicious, strange-dogs-in-a-meathouse fight that shattered families, emptied neighborhoods, and sometimes created feuds that lasted generations after the war.
Daniel Woodrell writes with a remarkable style perfectly suited to the tale he tells. Taut, sparse, haunting, lyrical yet terrible, easing us lazily along from moments of unpretentious poetry to drop us jangling into stark, slamming violence. From the first page, I read it as drinking a rare liquor, sipping and savoring only a few pages a day, in no hurry to have it end.
Mr. Woodrell does not rub our faces in gore, but nor does he shrink from or glorify the brutality of killing. We have no doubt of what is happening, recoil from its horror, yet the image is drawn with such spare, severe strokes that we are left stunned as the aftermath of a car wreck - what just happened? When one character dies, the scene is engraved with a laser beam; "Oh, sweet Lord Jesus. It was way down there past terrible....My world bled to death."
Yet rather than being a story about a war and its battles, this a story about very young men - and women - whose lives are turned inside-out by that war. We see them involved in the very human struggle for place, for a sense of belonging, for those fleeting moments of gentleness, set against the smouldering, bloody backdrop of war, and jerked back to the bad-chili burning in the guts for payback when "comrades" are lost.
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Format: Paperback
"Our mode of war was an irregular one. We were as likely to be guided by an aged farmer's breathless recounting of a definite rumor, or by the moods of our horses, as we were by logic. It was a situation where logic made no sense. So we slouched about in wooded areas, our eyes on main roads and cow paths, watching for our foe to pass in reasonable numbers.
They often did."

The reissue last month of "Woe to Live On", Daniel Woodrell's 1987 coming-of-age novel set during the American Civil War, is cause for celebration. A Missourian born and bred, Woodrell has a dedicated cult following, but, oddly, seems to be better known and appreciated outside the States than within, and has been described as "one of the best-kept secrets in American literature."

As anyone who's discovered Woodrell's long out-of-print "Woe to Live On" and been blown away by it will tell you, Lordy, Lordy, the man can write up a storm!

This is the universal tragedy of civil war, the particular madness of a conflict that pits neighbours, friends and families against each other, as seen through the eyes of Jake Roedel, a teenager fighting with a band of Bushwhackers (mounted Confederate guerillas) in the Kansas-Missouri borderlands. Several of the characters are actual historical figures, like William C. Quantrill, Cole Younger and Senator Jim Lane. Black John Ambrose, the leader of Jake's band, was clearly modelled on "Bloody Bill" Anderson, and Jake's friend, the black freedman, Holt, is a composite of those African-Americans who, surprising as it may seem, did in fact fight with the Confederate raiders.

Politically incorrect, unrevisionist and understated in style, "Woe to Live On" is brutal, shocking and full of random, escalating violence and moral ambiguities.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The influence of both Twain and Cormac McCarthy are fairly clear to see in Daniel Woodrell's Ride with Devil. The sheer carnage reminds one of McCarthy's Outer Dark and Blood Meridian. But there's more. Ride With the Devil is also a coming of age novel telling the story of Jake Roedel, a young Bushwhacker (and immigrant's son), who has not known a woman, but who has killed 15 men.

In Woodrell's hands, Jake is a complex mix of child and killer. He has been hardened by a war that, in the contested border areas of Missouri & Kansas, was as murderous as modern day Bosnia. Robbery, murder, torture, in an eye for an eye conflict, was the coin of the day. Nevertheless, the reader senses the human Jake trying to peek out from beyond the callus. Sometimes it's a moment of tragically misplaced pity for a northern militia acquaintance, or his growing interest about the woman, the widow Sue Lee, of his "near" brother Jack Bull. And then there's growing friendship with Holt, a freed slave who has been riding with the bushwhackers. A common ground gradually develops between the despised immigrant's son, and the mistrusted black man, as they see the south fall apart due to invasion. Interestingly, Woodrell is able to show both characters growing dissatisfaction for the southern cause, as its increasingly being fought (the raid on Lawrence being a point of true descent), while at the same time retaining their hate for northerners who seek to impose, through invasion, new rules for the old. A subtle truth that historians still can't seem to get right, but which acquires an awful plausibility in the half-boy, half-man voice of Roedel. This is fine novel that should be probably be viewed beyond the genre of a western and/or historical fiction.
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