(Book 1 in the Finding Billy Battles Trilogy)
*****Old West Life and Times Review by Rox Burkey
Author Ronald Yates creates a gripping historical fiction using Billy’s journals that tracked his life, people he met, and events he witnessed from the mid-1800s. Tracing the history and fact-checking started with Billy’s introduction in 1958 to his great-grandson, Theodore Remington Sayles. Billy was in a veteran’s home and ninety-eight years old. Old but not senile.
Ted, as he preferred being called, was a Kansas lad who became an investigative newspaperman. He received the twelve journals his grandmother saved in 1998. The memoirs revealed the fascinating story of Billy’s life in ways most of us have only viewed from the slanted perspective of television. Ted reflected upon how he related to Billy because they traveled similar career paths.
Billy’s worked as a journalist for multiple newspapers causing him to travel across the old west. He lived during, what is commonly called Old West, times of lawlessness, bank robbers, and marshals rode horses or railroad with their Colt’s handy. During his travels, his path crossed with notables like Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, Diamond Jim Brady, and Billy the Kid.
The stories of his travels are shared in a way that worked for me. I enjoyed the writing, especially with the authentic vernacular of the times. I highlighted the area below where Billy hooks back up with Doc Holliday after several years. Doc is fighting his TB at that point.
“I filled him in on my career at the Denver Sun, my marriage to Mallie, and my last run-in with the Bledsoes in Lawrence.
“I am pleased to see that a woman has made an honest man of you. That’s more than can be said for me,”
Doc said. “Seems like when it came to women, all I did was put a spoke in the wheel.”
“I just got lucky, I guess.”
With that, Doc pulled a small silver flask from under his blanket and took a short swig. It wasn’t whiskey, but laudanum often used to ease the symptoms and pain of TB. “This stuff used to help, but now it just seems to be a damned bad habit,” he said, returning the flask to its hiding place.
We talked a while longer. I asked him if he had seen Wyatt recently.
“He and Josie stopped by in Gunnison maybe four years ago, on their way to Denver to get hitched—at least that’s what they told me,” Doc rasped.
He fell into a short coughing fit, and I felt guilty that by making him talk so much, I had brought it on. “Sorry, Doc… I don’t mean to make things worse.”
“Don’t worry… they can’t get any worse than they already are. I’m about played out.”
Then holding up the book he had been reading, he asked, “Have you read Homer?”
I explained that I had as part of an assignment at the University of Kansas.
“In that case, you might recall this line.” Then picking up the book, he read, “Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great things that shall be told among men hereafter.”
He coughed again and took another swig from his small flask. “I think I failed Homer on all counts,” Doc rasped.”
I enjoy western historical fictions, especially with the action/adventure related in this book. With Author Yates using the journals, the woven history of Billy Battles becomes so personal. I recommend this to readers who like to feel they are a part of the story. The characters are well-developed, and the memories will remain with me. I enjoy this writing style. I now have my sights on book 2 and book 3..
About the Author
Ronald E. Yates is a multi-award-winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and award-winning Finding Billy Battles trilogy. His extraordinarily accurate books have captivated fans from around the world who applaud his ability to blend fact and fiction.
Before turning to fiction, Ron was an award-winning foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois, where he was also the Dean of the College of Media.
Book 3 of the trilogy (“The Lost Years of Billy Battles”) was published in June 2018. His book, “The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles,” is the second in his Finding Billy Battles trilogy of novels and was published in June 2016. It has won multiple awards, including the 2017 KCT International Literary Award, the 2016 New Apple Literary Award in the Action/Adventure category, and First Place in the 2016 Chanticleer International Book Awards in the Literary Category. It was also a finalist for the Diamond Book Award in the United Kingdom. The first book in the trilogy, “Finding Billy Battles,” was published in 2014 and was a finalist for a Laramie Award.
Ron has been a presenting author at the Kansas Book Festival, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, and the San Diego Book Festival, among other venues. He is also the author of The Kikkoman Chronicles: A Global Company with A Japanese Soul, published by McGraw-Hill. Other books include Aboard the Tokyo Express: A Foreign Correspondent’s Journey through Japan, a collection of columns translated into Japanese, as well as three journalism textbooks: The Journalist’s Handbook, International Reporting & Foreign Correspondents, and Business and Financial Reporting in a Global Economy.
Before leaving the world of professional journalism where he toiled 25 years, Ron lived and worked in Japan, Southeast Asia, and both Central and South America where he covered several history-making events including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia; the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing; and wars and revolutions in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, among other places.
Ron’s work as a war correspondent resulted in several awards, including the Inter-American Press Association’s Tom Wallace Award for coverage of Central and South America; the Peter Lisagor Award from the Society of Professional Journalists; three Edward Scott Beck Awards for International Reporting, and three Pulitzer nominations.
He is a proud graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. He served with the U.S. Army Security Agency as a SIGINT analyst.
Ron writes a blog entitled “ForeignCorrespondent”
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