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Across the Great Divide - an Editorial Review of "The Founding"



Book Blurb:


Two men, two dreams, two new towns on the plains, and a railroad that will determine whether the towns—one black, one white—live or die.


Will Crump has survived the Civil War, Red Cloud’s War, and the loss of his love, but the search for peace and belonging still eludes him. From Colorado, famed Texas Ranger Charlie Goodnight lures Will to Texas, where he finds new love, but can a Civil War sharpshooter and a Quaker find a compromise to let their love survive? When Will has a chance to join in the founding of a new town, he risks everything—his savings, his family, and his life—but it will all be for nothing if the new railroad passes them by.


Luther has escaped slavery in Kentucky through Albinia, Will’s sister, only to find prejudice rearing its ugly head in Indiana. When the Black Codes are passed, he’s forced to leave and begin a new odyssey. Where can he and his family go to be truly free? Can they start a town owned by blacks, run by blacks, with no one to answer to? But their success will be dependent on the almighty railroad and overcoming bigotry to prove their town deserves the chance to thrive.


Will’s eldest sister, Julia, and her husband, Hiram, are watching the demise of their steamboat business and jump into railroads, but there’s a long black shadow in the form of Jay Gould, the robber baron who ruthlessly swallows any business he considers competition. Can Julia fight the rules against women in business, dodge Gould, and hold her marriage together?


The Founding tells the little-known story of the Exodusters and Nicodemus, the black town on the plains of Kansas, and the parallel story of Will’s founding of Lubbock, Texas, against the background of railroad expansion in America. A family reunited, new love discovered, the quest for freedom, the rise of two towns. In the end, can they reach Across the Great Divide? The Founding is the exciting conclusion to the series.



Author Bio:



Best selling author Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories. He's a retired software engineer turned author, with three children and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of forty years. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. The main character of "Across the Great Divide", William Dorsey Crump, is one of the founders of Lubbock and Shallowater, Texas. Michael knew Will's granddaughter when he was a child. He has written a scholarly article on Will Crump for the Texas Historical Society, published in the Handbook of Texas Online, and has sold short stories in the past. This is his first novel and the first in the Across the Great Divide series, now an Amazon bestseller.

Michael attended Rice University as an undergraduate, and Portland State University for his graduate degree. He has degrees in computer science, software engineering, and German. In his spare time, Michael loves to go fishing, riding horses, and play with his grandchildren, who are currently all under six years old.

He sees many parallels between the time of the Civil War and our divided nation of today. Sanctuary cities, immigration, arguments around the holiday table, threats of secession - all are nothing new. Sometimes, to understand the present, you have to look at the past- and reach Across the Great Divide.


Editorial Review:


Will’s other companions were loneliness and longing. Losing Dove was an open wound sending shooting pains throughout his whole body. After leaving Washakie’s camp, he’d felt as if he were alone and forsaken until he’d gotten his father’s letter at Fort Bridger....

The invitation to join his father in Colorado and the promise of connection and family made him ache from wanting to see his father. They had parted in Indiana on fair terms after their conflict over the war.

As a book reviewer, it is quite rare to find a book where the author manages to educate and entertain the reader much like this successfully. The Founding is a book that tells the story of two men, from different backgrounds, as they navigate their life in America at a time where a lot of things were uncertain. This book connects the characters from different backgrounds to become Americans who would soon face a common problem. One of the things to love about this book, one which needs to be highlighted is the different lifestyles that the two characters had. As stated earlier, I this book is one that manages to both educate and entertain the reader. With this book written for teenagers, it’s crucial to highlight this aspect. The book tells the story of two men, one Caucasian American and another one African American. These men, historically, live different lives, especially during the time setting. From a reviewer’s perspective and having read a lot of books, the expertise of the author in showing how different their lives were is also to be highlighted. The author successfully shows the privilege of one character, how their priorities seem misplaced and how these aspects control or dictate their decisions. On the other hand, he shows the struggle of the other character, how discrimination and prejudice affected him and how these aspects too affected his decision making. Surprisingly, the author successfully connects these characters and despite their different backgrounds and races, he somehow shows the connection and similarity between them. We see how these characters lived their lives and they could be used as point of view characters for young readers today to understand the life of different cultures back in the day.

Luther kept an eye on their dwindling stores. Roundtree prayed in services. All the families were in the same predicament. Those who had been there longer were sharing what they had, to their detriment. He went out setting more traps and snares, looking for anything edible. He always took his Colt revolver in case of trouble, animal or human.


Another aspect of the book which makes it exceptional is how the author manages to educate the reader. Whether you like it or not, one thing has always been clear: history has always failed at reporting several aspects of discrimination especially the racial discrimination that Black Americans faced in the country. As such, finding a book which addresses these hardships and pointing out the injustices people of color faced during this period is hard, but this is it. The book tells the story of Luther who is a former slave who has just escaped his former master’s home. From his point of view, the author depicts the atrocities that slaves faced, and the challenges they had after they became free. A very likeable aspect of the book is the author’s boldness in pointing out the challenges former slaves had in settling down or attempting to build their lives post slavery. We see how towns like Lubbock were formed and the numerous challenges they faced. It’s not only racism, the author goes an extra mile to paint an entire community mixed with genuine and evil people and how they all react to news of development especially when it pertains people of color. The author shows these aspects which mirror certain aspects of the community, which could be used to educate the readers about social media. The author perfectly represents the society, which should be crucial to the community. This book should be recommended to young readers since it will help them have a deeper understanding of the community, and how people think.


Julia clenched her handkerchief, wanting to explode. Her lips tightened into a thin line. She wanted to scream that if she hadn’t taken over, Kirsten would have spent them into poverty. Instead, she replied with controlled emotion.


The final aspect of the book that makes it remarkable is the secondary characters the author uses to expound his story. Other than Will Crump and Luther, we get to see Julia and her husband Hiram, and Jay Gould, a ruthless business owner. One thing about these secondary characters is that it is easy to connect with these individuals and understand their actions. Even at a young age, the reader will understand the reason behind Jay Gould and his business decisions, and why Hiram and Julia look at him as the villain. Having stated all this, this book is the perfect one to use to transition children from their children’s books to adult books. This book has an impeccable way of fleshing out the characters, explaining their motives while clearly showing that they may have a few secrets and hidden motives.

*****


“The Founding” by Michael Ross receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company


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