The Civil War changed many things for many men, and Jonathan Trask was no exception. Returning home after two painful years in a Yankee hospital and prison camp, he found his mother dead, his father a hopeless drunk, their once-prosperous ranch a shambles, and the girl he loved married to his brother! A lesser man might have given up in despair, but these setbacks merely tempered the steel in Jonathan's character. He suppressed his personal problems by devoting his full energies to rebuilding the ranch. Within a few years his success was acknowledged throughout Texas and his name was spoken with respect and fear. But Jonathan's empire had a fatal flaw and as his wealth and power grew, so did the seeds of self-destruction. BITTER GRASS is an exciting western of a dynamic man destroying himself through the misuse of power. Note from T. V. Olsen Author Frontier historians, professional and amateur, will recognize BITTER GRASS as being in large part a highly fictionalized account of the career of Isom Prentice "Print" Olive, a real-life pioneer cattleman of Texas and Nebraska. With a few exceptionsmost notably Alex McKennathe key characters are drawn from life to one degree or another, as is much of the narrative. However, because my characterization of actual personalities is imaginary, because many of the events are either fictitious or based only slightly on fact, and because the chronological sprawl of a single career has been here compressed into a ten-year period, I have assigned fictional names to most places and all but a handful of historical persons mentioned (i.e., McCoy, Hickok, Shanghai Pierce). While the vigorous and violent public (but not private) life of the real "Print" Olive is paralleled very closely by that of the fictional Jonathan "Buck" Trask, no aspect of this book should be regarded as the author's opinion of "how it might have been." BITTER GRASS is a novel, not a speculative work. Both fact and speculationand two diametrically opposed viewpoints on the character of "Print" Olive are abundantly presented in Harry E. Chrisman's THE LADDER OF RIVERS and Man Sandoz' THE CATTLEMEN, to which I refer the curious reader.
Ike Banner cursed his arthritic hands as he grasped the reins. Pain he'd easily shrugged it off while building the Swallowtail Ranch, a rope burn, a cattle kick, they healed. But like the throbbing in his joints the pain his three boys caused him was a permanent burr under his saddle. Thorp was a good foreman, if you overlooked his cruelty. Since his accident, Tyrone had climbed into the bottle, and Free had the morals of a snake. Just as he had curbed their wrongheadedness in life, Ike would do it in death. He was sure he had been fair in his will, done his duty to his claimed, and unclaimed sons.
When they shot his father, Calem Gault seeks revenge against Major Jeffrey Dembrow's people, who gets a posse together and pursues him and his brother Jesse.
Silas Pine was about to turn fifty. That tended to start a man thinking, especially when his doctor told him he had a bad heart and he had to take it easy if he wanted to see his next birthday. What Silas wanted more than anything was one last chance to make peace with his son, who was marshal in the isolated town of Grafton. Wyoming. But arriving in the middle of a bank robbery wasn't the way Silas had pictured the reunion. Neither was leading a posse in a pursuit more deadly than bullets.
Frank Ulring was The Law in Grafton County. In six short years he had driven the outlaws, the rustlers and robbers from their mountain refuges and had whiplashed the Navajos into sullen, but submissive obedience. Though some might have muttered about the severity of his methods, when they remembered how it had been, they always supported their tough, domineering sheriff. The town of Spurlock was his domain, where he had everything he had aimed for in life except a wife. Though the woman he wanted was already married, the Sheriff had a scheme and the scheme was called murder, and the only obstacle to it was a witness a Navajo who soon became the object of one of the most intensive manhunts Grafton County had ever seen.
In the Southwest temperatures ran as hot as the tempers, and men were silent while guns talked too fast. Keno was that rare breeda cowboy between jobs, out to make an honest dollar and keep his pride and his hide, his only two possessions, intact. Which was why he was riding alone across the hottest, most godforsaken stretch of mesquite in the Territory when he came across a stranger. Hog-tied. Bellydown. Branded and left to die hideously. Keno knew he had to save him. That was his first mistake.
AN UNSEEN ENEMY Will Parry lost an arm in the Civil War, but he found the strength to carry on with his life, to build a future for himself and his family on a ranch in the Wyoming Rockies. But that bright future starts to turn dark when a shadowy gunman begins shooting at Parry's house. And that's just a taste of what's to come. It isn't long before Parry learns the identity of an enemy he never knew he had, a man with a bitter grudge still festering from the war. A man with the cunning of an animaland the cold-blooded patience of an executioner. Parry knows he'll die if he has to in order to protect his family, and when he looks out into the black night he also knows...
If the journey in Treasures of the Sun took these characters southeast on a route into the Underworld, then now, heading northwest, they seek nothing less than the Islands of the Blessed on this compelling adventure and spiritual odyssey. The year is 1934. Sir Wilbur Tennington, who in Treasures of the Sun led a successful 1922 expedition to find the lost Incan city of Haucha, has been living for several years in India, studying with a holy man and carefully reading the text of the Rig Veda. From this he comes to realize that the constellations repeatedly described therein can only be seen from the Arctic, and develops the conviction that the civilization that gave birth to the Rig Veda and had invaded what was to become Europe in the Third Millennium before Christ still exists and always has, north of Ellesmere Island in the Arctic Ocean. For what he regards as his last great quest, Sir Wilbur calls together the same group that accompanied him in the search for Haucha. Leaving by plane from San Francisco, they land at Point Barrow, the second northernmost point on the continent. From there they press northward, next by dogsled, across an Arctic desert of frigid sand and the Agassiz Ice Cap. To their consternation, they find they are not alone in the land where the Midnight Sun never sets ...
THE MAN FROM NOWHERE When a Wyoming bank job went belly up, the notorious Vano Gang was wiped out, and Johnny Vano was almost sent to a watery grave. Then a rough-hewn ranch family saved his life and gave the young hard case a chance for a new start. But repaying their kindness turned out to be more lethal than dodging the law's lead; because Johnny had to stop a cattle-rustling conspiracy dead in its tracks. To do so, he had to face a treacherous enemy from the past and settle the score in blood. BITTER GRASS He weathered the brutality and torture of a prisoner-of-war camp. He survived the loss of his fiancee to another. He shot down or destroyed anything that stood between him and his lifelong dream of a mighty cattle empire. All the misfortune in the world tried to break Jonathan Trask, but he would not break. Then, almost too late, he realized that he himself was responsible for the thing that could snap him like a twig. And if he didn't act quickly, the taste of lead would be the best - and easiest - death he could hope for.