Everybody knows the story of the Alamo and the Texas victory over the Mexican army at San Jacinto, but the dramatic period that followed--the years when the Republic of Texas was not yet part of the United States--has largely been ignored. Edwin Shrake's novel makes up for that. The Borderland is set in 1839, three years after the Alamo fell. The fledgling Republic is down on its heels, desperate for money, short on organization, lacking structure and infrastructure, and still at war with Mexico. President Lamar, as much a poet as a politician, has a plan, though: by expanding the Republic to the Pacific, he can attract the frenzy--and cash--of land speculators. He begins by going up against his enemy, Sam Houston, and moving the capital of the Republic inland from Houston to a pristine river valley in central Texas--Comanche country--that gives birth to the new city of Austin. The repercussions are enormous. To begin with, it sets off the largest Comanche war party of all time.
Weaving together a marvelous cast of characters, some real, some wholly created, Shrake renders a strong, often eerie portrait of life on the frontier and the horrors of frontier warfare. As Texas Ranger Captain Matthew Caldwell, known as "Old Paint" because of his spotted beard, leads a desperate, ragtag force against the Comanche warriors on the plains south of Austin, Romulus Swift, a half-Cherokee physician descended from Jonathan Swift, falls in love with Caldwell's young German Jewish immigrant bride. Swift is a mystical character--he's on a quest to find a mysterious, otherworldly-wise creature said to live in a cave full of Spanish gold; Caldwell is more a straight-ahead force of nature. When the two men, suspicious of each other from the get-go, must journey together into Comancheria, the palpable tension has as much to do with whether they'll kill each other as it does with whether they'll be able to make a truce with 2,000 Comanche warriors ready to wipe Austin out. Add to the mix Swift's sister, anxious to return to her Native American past after a society life in New York, and Henry Longfellow, a powerful, misogynistic, slave-holding politician who may be Texas's first serial killer, and The Borderland has the makings of a truly tall tale. Massive in scope, captivating in detail, and meticulous in its resurrection of history, Shrake's novel exhumes a forgotten era of Texas's past. --Roland Gregory
In the bestselling tradition of Larry McMurtry, a sweeping novel that tells the tale of how mighty Texas was born -- now available in paperback.
In this epic novel set in 1839, author Edwin Shrake, himself a Texan, presents a portrait of Texas as it was, a borderland between civilization and the unknown. There were fortunes to be made, vast areas of land to be gained, and battles to be fought and won. Skillfully woven into the action-filled narrative are true historical figures, wrenching love stories, and riveting battle scenes -- all ingredients of superb historical fiction. Fans of Louis L'Amour and Patrick O'Brian will be enthralled by this Texas magnum opus.
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