Dark Thicket
Western Fiction
6 x 9, 200 pp.
Pub Date: 08/01/1999
Texas Tradition Series
  cloth
Price:        $21.95

978-0-87565-207-8

Published by Texas Christian University Press

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Dark Thicket

By Elmer Kelton
Afterword by Laurie Champion

In this novel, first published by Doubleday in 1985, Texas novelist Elmer Kelton returns to the Civil War period, once again examining, as he first did in Texas Rifles, the effect of the war on Texans at home. Even while the conflict raged to the east, several groups of Texan Union loyalists hid out across the state, trying to avoid the anger and violence of the confederate-sympathizing “home guard.”

Kelton bases this story on a group who lived in a then-huge thicket on the Colorado River near present-day Columbus, although the characters, incidents and town of the book are of Kelton’s invention. As he always says, fiction writers are liars and thieves. Owen Danforth, a wounded Confederate soldier, comes home to Texas to recover, intending to return to his regiment. His family is torn apart by the war—two brothers dead, one uncle, a Union sympathizer, shot in the back by the home guard. His father—also a Unionist—hides out in the thicket with his remaining family because the home guard, led by “Captain” Phineas Shattuck, has sworn revenge on the Danforth clan. Torn between duty and family loyalty, Owen Danforth faces difficult decisions until a violent encounter leaves him only one choice.

Elmer Kelton is the author of more than thirty novels dealing with Texas history at various periods. Several of his books have won the Spur Award from Western Writers of America and the Western Heritage (Wrangler) Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. WWA, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Western Literature Association have honored him for lifetime achievement. His most recent book is The Buckskin Line. TCU Press keeps several of his novels available in reprint editions.

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