Lords of St. Thomas by Jackson Ellis

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BLURB

Born and raised in St. Thomas, Lord lived in a small home beside his garage with his son, Thomas, his daughter-in-law, Ellen, and his grandson, “Little” Henry. All lived happily until the stroke of a pen by President Coolidge authorizing the construction of the Boulder (Hoover) Dam. Within a decade, more than 250 square miles of desert floor would become flooded by the waters of the Colorado River, and St. Thomas would be no more.

In the early 1930s, the federal government began buying out the residents of St. Thomas, yet the hardheaded Henry Lord, believing the water would never reach his home, refused to sell. It was a mistake that would cost him―and his family―dearly.

Lords of St. Thomas details the tragedies and conflicts endured by a family fighting an unwinnable battle, and their hectic and terrifying escape from the flood waters that finally surge across the threshold of their front door. Surprisingly, it also shows that, sometimes, you can go home again, as Little Henry returns to St. Thomas 60 years later, after Lake Mead recedes, to retrieve a treasure he left behind―and to fulfill a promise he made as a child.

REVIEW

Intrigued as I was by the premise of this tale, a look at an obscure part of the country, an obscure bit of our history, I was not prepared for the drama and emotion that like the making of Lake Mead, flood the pages. It is a coming of age story in a town that is destined to disappear due to the building of The Hoover Dam. Though it is the mid-1930’s, I could still resonate with young Henry, especially the honing of baseball skills by throwing a ball against a wall.  The author has crafted a tale that while unique in its setting, is not so unique as to the human condition – tense family situations, the fear of the unknown future, the struggle to live up to expectations – all of that and more make this an enjoyable read.  I have driven the southern shore of Lake Mead, and the stark barren, desert landscape is vividly described by the author, as is the out of place look the lake has in this drought ridden, sun baked land. As the blurb states, Henry returns 60 years later as the lake has receded and uncovered parts of St. Thomas. Without spoiling it for future readers, I can say that the author has provided the reader with an exciting, dramatic conclusion to this wonderful tale.  5 stars

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The Day The World Ended at Little Bighorn by Joseph Marshall III

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A fascinating, yet sad, Lakota history.  Most of you already know the events, Washita River, Wounded Knee, Little Bighorn and the main characters; Custer, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull.  But I’m willing to bet that most of what you know was generated by the winners of the war.  The spin doctors of the day did a bang up job reporting the “massacre” of Custer and his command and the resulting hue and cry from the public set in motion the events that finally brought to an end the Lakota (and other tribes) way of life.  Mr. Marshall has brought forth the other side of the story, the story of the Lakota.  Far from being the marauding, hostile savages portrayed by the press, and continuing to this day, what we see is a nation trying desperately and against staggering odds, to protect their freedom, their culture, their ability to roam on land they had used for hundreds of years.  Those are noble pursuits.  Pursuits that even we of the 21st century would deem necessary if we were faced with the same circumstances.  So, dear readers, take a few moments and cherish the freedoms you have and remember the plight of not only the Lakota but of the innumerable peoples and cultures destroyed in the name of progress and greed.  4.4 stars.

Hundred in the Hand by Joseph M. Marshall III

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This engaging tale starts out with an elderly Lakota grandfather telling his children and grandson about the battle known as Fetterman’s Massacre.  That retelling sets the tone for this oral history-like story of the Lakota and their fears and reactions to the Long Knife forts along The Bozeman Trail in  the mid 1860’s.  The lead up to the battle is told from the Lakota point of view and mainly centers on the warrior Cloud and his wife, Sweet Water Woman, though the author does a thorough job in his description of life in a Lakota village; and their fears and mistrust of the encroaching whites  The author also lays out the misconceptions prevalent among many whites concerning the native tribes, e.g. the military’s disdain of the Indian’s fighting ability.  I was entertained and educated by this book and am looking forward to the second volume and it’s tale of the Greasy Grass fight; also known as The Little Bighorn.  5 stars and a Hoover Book Review recommendation.