It took me long enough to read this under 200 page book about Nathan Bedford Forrest. General Forrest has always been one of my heroes and so when I saw the title of this book, Nathan Bedford Forrest's Redemption, I snatched it up at the Suwanee Raid reenactment
without hardly even thinking about it. Upon getting it home and removing the plastic, I found that the author, Shane Kastler, is an ordained Southern Baptist as well as an SCV member.

This book is decidedly Christian. Not only does Mr. Kastler quote scripture, but he continually draws one's attention back to the goodness and graciousness of the Lord--in his blessing of Bedford finacially before the war, in preserving his life during the war, and drawing him to Himself as he got continually feebler and more ill.
    There was a mildness in his manner, a softness of expression, and a gentleness in his words that appeared to me strange and unnatural. At first I thought his bad health had brought about this change, but then I remembered that when sick or wounded he was the most restless and impatient man I ever saw. Soon I told him that there was something about him that I couldn't understand, that he didn't appear to me to be the same man I used to know so well. He was silent for a moment, then seemed to divine my trouble, and, halting suddenly, he took hold of the lapel of my coat and turned me squarely in front of him, and raising his right hand with that long index finger (his emphasizer) extended, he said, "Major, I am not the man you were with so long and knew so well. I hope I am a better man. I've joined the Church and am trying to live a Christian life...Mary has prayed for me night and day for many years, and I feel now that through her prayers my life has been spared, and to them am I indebted for passing safely through so many dangers." 
        ~~Major Charles Anderson
Mr. Kastler paints a vivid picture of the man. I understand Bedford Forrest better than ever now. He does not try to hide his faults (such as his filthy bad temper) nor does he attempt to make more of them than necessary (such as the Fort Pillow massacre). He attempts to show the reader both the sins and the virtues of the man.

What is so very intersting about General Forrest is that he knew from his youth the tenets of Christianity. He believed them, but did not necessarily apply them to himself. He encouraged them in others--going so far to make sure his son, who enlisted with in at the beginning of the War Between the States, had other godly young men to associate with.

Nathan Bedford Forrest's Redemption is not an extremely in-depth book. It is an easy read and if I hadn't been distracted by other things, I probably could have finished it in practically one-sitting. I enjoyed it very much and would highly recommend it. Looking at it from a purely objective standpoint (whatever a 'purely objective standpoint' is!), I would be inclined to say that a unbeliever might find it somewhat preachy as Mr. Kastler takes the time to use examples from scripture to prove whatever point he is after.

You could give this to your kids to read without worrying about the content (unless you are worried that they will start saying 'damn'--that is in at least one quote). The writing-style is simple and engaging. There is much about Forrest that we could emulate, but like with any man, there is much we can learn from his faults. 



Author: Paul I. Wellman

Setting: 1840's Texas

Plot: Paul Regret, New Orleans' gambler, engages in a duel with the only son of influential Judge Beaubein. Regret shoots the young man, but does not kill him. Regardless, he has to flee New Orleans with a price on his head. Going to Texas, he is given a choice by Sam Houston himself, of either being extradited to Louisiana or joining the Texas Rangers. Regret cho0ses to join the Rangers, not because he wants to be a Texas Ranger, but because he preferred that to hanging. He learns the ropes of being a Ranger...witnesses the aftermath of a Comanche raid [and from reading The Captured by Scott Zesch (I never finished it), I knew exactly what the author delicately alluded to]...and with his shooting skills earns respect, if not acceptance among the Rangers.

When Regret is commissioned with Tom Gatling (his rather hostile partner) and Captain Blake Henrion to discover the hideout of the Comancheros, the story really takes off. I won't let on what happens, only that they get captured.

Paul Regret's love interest is woven throughout the book and ends up being important to the story.


There was a movie made from the book....
The Duke is not Paul Regret--rather he's the Tom Gatling character--with a different name. If you ask my opinion, the book is better. The Comancheros, the movie is actually quite different than the book. The opening scene is the same and then one scene when Regret is among the Comancheros is the same. That's about it.

In the movie, Paul Regret meets his love interest on a boat (in the book he's known her for several years). He is arrested on the boat by the Duke (or Jake Cutter). Sam Houston is not in the movie. Anyway, Regret gets hauled around by Cutter--Regret knocks Cutter on the head and runs away. He get's re-caught and ends up being drug into the Comanchero trip (no Capt. Henrion in this version). The end is not nearly as powerful.

That was very uncohearant...but I just wanted to say that the book was the better of the two stories. Of course, being a Duke fan--the Comancheros isn't bad :) (Duke is himself you know...I like the Paul Regret of the book better--he's not quite such a prig.)

Book: 5 star
Movie: 3 star


This is the first Zane Gray book I have ever read, but I have seen several old Westerns based off of his books.

When I opened the cover, I was expecting something more of a rip-roaring adventure than what I found on the pages. (In retrospect, having seen the movies, I really shouldn't have.) It was really more of a romance. Not just even a love-triangle, more like a love-hexagon! Beware, there may be spoilers in the following...

The story revolves around the love Mr. John Curry holds for Mary Newton, a woman married to a scoundrel. Initally, John simply feels sorry for Mary as he realizes that she is a good woman and she is tied to a dirtbag in marriage (note: Mary did not know Wilber was a low life when she married him). The more John sees her, the more he comes to love her. He calls it a 'pure' love. I don't know exactly what to call it--seeing as it's a married woman and an unmarried fella, but I do know that it wasn't a lustful 'love'. John shows his true love for her, by his willingness to be non-exisitant in her world, so long as she is happy.
In time, Mary comes to also love John because he treats her with respect, honor, and dignity. She denies her feelings for John for a long time. She is faithful wife, even when Wilber treats her with disdain, distrust, and disloyalty. Wilber deserts her one day and steals everything of value from her in the process. Even then, the thought of divorce is far from her mind--indeed, it is unthinkable.

Surrounding these characters are the supporting cast of Katharine, Mary's old friend; High-Lo, a young cowboy that John rescued--these two are devoted to one another despite their ups and downs; and Magdeline, an Indian girl who plays a good sized part in the outcome of the story even though she is not a major charactor. Also there is Henley...but I won't go into him, else I might give too much away.

The Worldview: Well...I got the impression that Zane Gray believed in God--maybe even that God is soveriegn; but there was some of that early 20th century theology as well. I haven't been able to stick my finger on it exactly. Morality (based on the law of God) is good; immorality is wrong. In other words--adultery and murder are sin (two issues that could be temptations in the situation).

While you want John and Mary to be happy, there is never the sense of "Oh, just get together and everything will be alright" that seems to be prevalent in modern culture. No. To both of these characters doing the right thing, the honorable thing, is more important that what 'feels good'. I appreciated that a lot.

I'd rate this book a 4-star. That's for my uncertainty on the 'pure love' bit.  I enjoyed it pretty well, but I rather doubt I this is a book I will read again. Also, I wouldn't give it to someone who can't discern between the good and the bad in the book. Something still kind of rubs me wrong about the whole situation, but the fact that it's one that you can actually see happening in real life.


Authoress: Agatha Christie

How does one write a review of a mystery without giving away, the whodunnit? I'll see if I can figure it out :P

First off, this is a Hercule Poirot story. Naturally that means plenty of the little Belgians comments. He is returning to London from the Middle East when the train he is traveling on founders in a snowdrift at the same time a murder is committed.

At first it appears that no one had a good motive for killing the deceased. After interviewing all the people on the Stambul-Calais coach (these passengers being the only ones in question) and then going through their belongings, Poirot puts his 'little gray cells' to work. Naturally, as he is Poirot, he leaves his fellow investigators in the dust (and of course the reader--unless your brain jumps to conculsions faster than mine). By the end of the story everyone is a a deeper sense than initially. But there, lest I spoil it, I won't say anymore.

Suprisingly, I nearly guessed the ending of this one correctly. I was quite close actually (I NEVER do that!) The usual Agatha Christie descriptiveness was there. I would say that this wasn't one of the best ones that I have read, however. There are others that stick in the mind The Murder of Rodger Ackroyd (one of the very first Christies I read), Passenger to Frankfurt (I really enjoyed that one; it was somewhat different that most), and And Then There Were None (I believe that is the American title).

Especially in Poirot books, Christie tends to let the murderer (or murderers, depending on the story) get away with the crime if it serves 'justice'. For instance, if the murdered person happens to be a bad guy, once Poirot figures out 'whodunnit', he lets the murderer get away. (Of course, he wouldn't stand in the way if the law showed up, but still.) As a Christian, I recognize that this isn't Biblical. Vigilante justice, in a land with laws, is wrong. Thus, ending like that tend to set wrong with me--even if I'm glad the bad guy is dead. I would in no way call Poirot a Christian character. More of a moralistic, 'good' pagan. (Not counting his extreme arrogance concerning himself--Poirot, the mastermind crime solver. 'Detective' doesn't quite fit.)

4 1/2 Stars


The subtitle is as follows: Florida's Contribution to the Confederacy. The author is Robert A. Taylor. As with a vast majority of books written on the 'Civil War', it has the usual slave-slant. I will freely admit that this aspect could have been worse and that he was right that slaves were laborer's for the South during the War. However, I won't go any farther into that subject. (At least he never claimed that slavery was the cause of the war--which it was not.)

Other than that, Mr. Taylor managed to come to his topic from a fairly neutral position. Starting with the economic boom of the 1850's, he sets the stage for the economic disaster of the 1860's. I learned that North Florida held fairly prosperous cotton and tabacco farms. Also, they exported lumber, turpentine, fish, and other natural resources both before and during the war.

After the start of the war, salt was the biggest export. By the end of the war, beef was second only to salt. Since I am doing a documentary on the Cow Cavalry, the beef part of the book was what I was most interested in. Mr. Taylor clearly outlined the immense need for beef, the Confederate struggle to provide enough, and the Yankee attempts to interupt the flow of the beef traffic (as well as all other goods going north into Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and as far north as Virginia.)

He closes the book by talking about the Federal troops stationed in Florida and how they helped the Union victory. However, these troops never quite suceeded in obtaining their goal. For instance, almost as soon as they destroyed a salt-making camp, it would spring back up and continue operation. Or, they'd clean out a fishing camp only to have the fishermen return and go back to work.

Without Florida the Confederate States of America would  have had to capitulate long before they did--simply because they were starving. I also found it interesting that Andersonville Prison was supplied with Florida beef as well. Of course, they weren't the main priority, but in reality, they Federal troops imprisoned in Andersonville didn't really fare much worse than the common Confederate soldier. (Excepting of course the fact that they were incarcerated.)

Rebel Storehouse has as an appendix a circular prepared by Major Pleasant W. White, Florida's Chief Commissary Agent. I found this document to be of the utmost interest. In it he pleads for the people of Florida to rally around the cause, to look to the future. While he fully understood that times were tough and nearly everyone was in bad straights, he was asking for a further tightening of the belt for a future victory and prosperity. It was quite an interesting read.

One final note on the book...I kind of expected it to be rather dry. It wasn't. While certainly not exciting like a novel, Mr. Taylor has an engaging writing style that holds your attention (so long as you aren't hungry or really sleepy :) )

I give this book a 5-star rating.