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Ride With the Devil Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1999
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The Kansas City Star Woodrell joins Douglas C. Jones and the few others whose novels of western history are mainstream literature....The violence is fast and understated and bawdy humor relieves the story's intensity. -- Review
About the Author
Daniel Woodrell, Ozark born and bred, dropped out of school and joined the Marines at seventeen, got his college degree at twenty-seven, spent one year on a Michener fellowship at the lowa Writers' Workshop, and saw his first novel published at thirty-three. Hailed as "that infrequent thing, a born writer" (The Philadelphia Inquirer), he is known for his virtuosity as well as for his special sense of place and for characters that are simultaneously unique and universal. He is the author of Tomato Red, as well as these Pocket Books titles: Under the Bright Lights, Woe to Live On (retitled Ride with the Devil to coincide with the Universal film), Muscle for the Wing, The Ones You Do, and Give Us a Kiss.
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Daniel Woodrell does it again, bringing to life fictional and historical people thrown into the rubble and destruction of country, family, friends, giving us a first hand look at what was known as the American Civil War. Woodrell never ever disappoints.
Jake Roedel is a young teenager when he and his 'near brother' Jack Bull Chiles, decide to join up with the First Missouri Irregulars. These rough, tough, hard men ride in groups fighting for the South. They show no mercy, are relentless, and feel their murdering ways are cause and justification to victory for the South. These groups of guerrilla warfare fighting men are also known as Bushwhackers. There are also bands of these vigilantes on the Northern side and they are known as Jayhawkers.
Roedel is growing up quickly, he sees and commits horrors against mankind he never dreamed possible. He is loyal and true to the man he grew up with, Jack Bull. They run with a group of men they call friends and they have each others backs at all costs. Jake and Jack Bull are thick as thieves -- until they meet up with Sue Lee Shelley, a seventeen year old widow. Once Jake and Jack Bull meet Sue Lee - suddenly war and fighting are not the most important things to these two men. Will one of these men win Sue Lee's heart?
The atrocities of war are brought to vivid life. Little known facts about the Civil War are introduced -- such as a makeshift prison holding Southern women being destroyed and collapsed by the North, causing the death of relatives of some of the Bushwhackers. Swift revenge is taken, headed by Captain William Quantrill. Quantrill and many different groups of famous Southern fighters arrived in Lawrence, Kansas in 1863 and murdered almost anyone they encountered and burned the town to the ground. Our characters are right in the thick of things; this is a turning point for Jake Roedel regarding his thoughts on the war.
Woodrell's writing is flamboyant and wise, full of humor, wit, and all of it ringing true with Southern charm and expression. His honest zany wit shines throughout the book -- for example --
"Honeybee took my hand, as is the forward style of lonely country tykes."
"Hmmm, went Jack Bull, a smile creeping slowly into his face. If he had a moustache, he would have given it a dashing tug or two. I don't know where he picked up this paddlewheel rogue approach but he seemed to think it a devastating one."
"I stared down at Clark, a cripple by bad choice, and felt certain he would not last long, as death offers so many opportunities to nitwits."
The story is feral and harsh, it is sweet and loving, it is full of real people and fictional characters, all of whom you will come to know and love/hate. Roedel was by far my favorite fictional character. He is kind, angry, a murdering machine, yet he has a conscience. One thing I loved about Roedel was when he would read aloud to the others; he had a parcel of Yankee letters and he would read these -- they are priceless.
Woodrell is a master at writing. Other books by him that I have enjoyed include TOMATO RED, THE DEATH OF SWEET MISTER, WINTER'S BONE, just to name a few. Also, WOE TO LIVE ON has also been made into a movie, RIDE WITH THE DEVIL.
Check out this book. If you are a Civil War buff or not, this is great reading, and this book comes highly recommended.
Basically, Jake and his friends are Confederate Bushwackers at war with the Kansas Jayhawkers. They are led by Black John Ambrose, whose character is clearly modeled after "Bloody Bill" Anderson. Among Jake's friends is Holt, who is a former slave who chose to fight with the bushwackers when most former slaves chose to fight for the Union. This book can be heartwarming at times, while other times it can be extremely brutal. If you are a fan of historical fiction, I strongly recommend this book.
Most recent customer reviews
What a treasure to read his Novels.
This one in particular I finished reading in a couple of days - savoring each and every...Read more