The Black Harvest
A Novel of the American Civil War
by Daren Dean
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In The Black Harvest young Ashby Marchbanks finds himself disillusioned with the regular Army in Missouri after it suffers a crushing defeat at Wilson’s Creek during the Civil War. Forced to take the loyalty oath and return home in Howard County near Glasgow, he attempts to follow his father’s footsteps and attend William Jewell College where he will labor over the Word of God. It’s not long before Charles Jennison’s Red Legs come to call, and after hanging his father and terrorizing his family, Marchbanks is shot and left for dead.
Ashby (or “Preacher”) falls in with the infamous Captain Quantrill’s bushwhackers, who fight battles on their own terms without the sanction of Jefferson Davis and the impromptu Confederate government. Preacher becomes well acquainted with Frank James and his younger brother Jesse. They fight together with many others who would become notorious in their own right under another violent young chieftain, Captain Bloody Bill Anderson.
This is all out war where outnumbered guerrillas wear stolen Federal blue and bushwhack their enemies in a war fought at close range, bristling with Navy Colts. Theirs is a war for survival on the bloody border where violence between Kansas and Missouri began long before Fort Sumter. A wild and compelling tale, it captures the complexity of the era, and evokes an epic all but lost to history. It was a time of violence, outlaws, and virtual anarchy. As the country became distracted by the accumulation of military defeats of the Confederacy in the South. Jayhawker Federals and Missouri Bushwhackers went head to head in an increasingly violent war over the future of the nation in the West
“It may seem a bit odd to call a novel set in the nineteenth century timely, but the partisan warfare at the heart of Daren Dean’s The Black Harvest has never really gone away. It’s happening all around the world right now and right now, in the spring of 2021, we have even seen a few preliminary skirmishes here in the United States. Dean’s closely researched account of guerrilla fighting in Civil War era Kansas and Missouri shows just how very, very bad it can get. With the antic verve of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and the Old Testament rigor of Andrew Lytle’s The Long Night, this novel represents historical fiction at its very best.”—Madison Smartt Bell, All Soul’s Rising, Ten Indians, Devil’s Dream, and others
"The Black Harvest injects you into the heart of America's bloody and still-bleeding past. Daren Dean has written a masterful historical novel. There has never been a better time to read it."—Aaron Gwyn, All God's Children, Wynne's War, and Dog on the Cross
"Set in the brutal guerrilla fighting of Quantrill’s Missouri, Black Harvest will take you back there. It won’t be pretty, but it will be eloquently put. Preacher, the main character, has a bittersweet conflict going on inside, between bloodshed and his deep faith. It will take the end of the war and then some for him to come to terms with this. I was taken by how Dean so easily removes the legends—Quantrill, Bloody Bill Anderson, Frank James, Cole Younger—from myth and turns them human in a hard time."—Tom Abrams, Yonder Where the Road Bends
Ads in Rain Taxi, review copies
Ads in Rain Taxi, review copies