Rox Burkey – Blog Place

Book 2, Finding Billy Battles Trilogy

***** Exciting Travel, Outstanding Characters   review by Rox Burkey

Author Ronald Yates has outdone himself in book 2 of this series. He delivers a new perspective on the historical events Billy Battles participates in. His flair for creating images with concise descriptors illustrates his writing ability. The second in the series captivates one’s imagination as Billy travels on the SS China to Asia with some colorful shipmates.

Early on, the invitation to join the coveted Captain’s table at dinner provides a  perfect setting to the times. The late 1800s of ship travel were elegant affairs for the upper crust by birth or by marriage.  The imagery below provides a quick sense of the beginnings of an eye-opening journey.

“Well, there are some folks who believe we sand cutters and Jayhawkers—that’s what they call us pitiable Kansans—are poor relations when it comes to American citizenship,” I said, attempting to rescue Partington.

Before he could respond, the widow Schreiber spoke up. “And I am not German!” she snapped, her words crisp and frosty. “I was simply married to one.”

Mr. Partington, now sufficiently chagrined, smiled weakly. “Perhaps I should keep my oral cavity closed. I seem to be making a right bog of things.”

Captain Kreitz cleared his throat. “At sea, nationality matters not. We are all citizens of the SS China now.”

Mr. Partington quickly concurred. “There is a saying that aboard ship, we are all met on an equal footing. For these few days and weeks, we shall all be weighed, not by what we own or claim to be, but by what we really are.”

Billy meets Katharina Schreiber at dinner, and during the trip, they become delightfully close. I liked the complexity of Katharina depicted in this era. Her upbringing and financial independence permitted her to travel in style. These two develop a connection that allows them to experience history.

Author Yates makes history fun and interesting by putting his characters in the thick of it. Billy took this trip to heal after losing his wife. He is placed into situations like dealing with pirates or placed into a battle between the French and locals. Billy finally travels home and reconnects with his family and daughter. His reputation as a lawman and gunfighter follows him during his travels.

There is excitement, thrills, chills, and surprises as Billy’s sage continues. Eichel, the ruthless German agent, plagues both Billy and Katharina with his evil revenge. The description of the countries, cities, and dialogue fits the places and times. When Billy takes off again to help Katharina’s brother, they are thrust into the Spanish-American War. You are placed in the middle of history, learning about the history of the Philippines and Indonesia.

Mr. Yates creates a story that easily stands alone with fascinating, complex characters you can admire or dislike intensely. The relationships and situations make this history lesson compelling to read. I recommend this easily stand-alone book, but you won’t want to miss book 1. If you like history from the late 1800s and into the next century, add this story to your library. The Endnotes also put the times into perspective, don’t miss these nuggets.  I cannot wait to read book 3. Awesome read.

About the Author

Ronald E. Yates is an award-winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the famous and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. His extraordinarily accurate books have captivated fans worldwide who applaud his ability to blend fact and fiction.

Ron is a former 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.

His award-winning book, “The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles,” is the second in his Finding Billy Battles trilogy of novels and was published in June 2016. The first book in the trilogy, “Finding Billy Battles,” was published in 2014. Book #3 in the trilogy (The Lost Years of Billy Battles) was published by Mill City Press in June 2018 and won the Goethe Grand Prize for Historical Fiction from the Chanticleer International Book Awards (CIBA) and the Best All-Around Book of the Year for 2019, also from CIBA.

Ron has been a presenting author at the Kansas Book Festival and 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 and published in 10 languages. Other books include Aboard the Tokyo Express: A Foreign Correspondent’s Journey through Japan, a collection of columns translated into Japanese, and three journalism textbooks: The Journalist’s Handbook, International Reporting, and Foreign Correspondents, and Business and Financial Reporting in a Global Economy.

Before leaving the world of professional journalism, where he spent 27 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.

His 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.

Ron is a proud graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas and a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served in the Army Security Agency.

Trilogy Trailer






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    2 replies to "The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles"

    • Jan Sikes

      What a fantastic review of this second Billy Battles book! I read the first one and loved it. I love how Ron calls these books “faction” based both on fact and fiction. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Rox!

      • RoxBurkey

        His storytelling is so compelling. Thank you for visiting Jan. Take care

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