Gerry B's Book Reviews

Shadow of the Wind, by Mackey Hedges (Author), Robert Sigman (Compiler), Joelle Smith (Cover Design)

The Real Deal….

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shadow of the wind - coverStory blurb: Shadow Of The Wind, while a fictional novel by definition, is based on true-to-life individuals. It is the long anticipated installment to Mac Hedges’ award winning Western novel, Last Buckaroo. In Shadow, Mac brings important generational back-ground to the colorful characters created in the earlier novel while providing readers with rich and authentic descriptions of Western culture and heritage.

Cover illustration: “Old Friends” by the late western artist, Joelle Smith

About the athor: Mackey Hedges was born in 1942. His 90 year old mother says that she can never remember a time when he wanted to be anything other than a cowboy. “He and his younger sister would play by the hour pretending that they had a big ranch where he was in charge of the cattle and she was the ranch nurse or cook. We got him his first horse when he was six and he has been riding ever since.”

When asked about his lifestyle Mackey says, “I use to dream about having my boys with me when I got old but the life that I grew up with is pretty well gone. I wouldn’t wish what’s left of this onto them. Low wages and the constant battle with the environmentalist and the Bureau of Land Management have taken a lot of the enjoyment out of being a Nevada rancher. It’s a good-enough life for a few old drifters like me but it’s sure no life for a young man with a family.”

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Review by Gerry Burnie

shadow of the wind - adam jahielAs you may have noticed, I am a great fan of western-style tales, especially if they are reasonably true to the true cowboy lifestyle—which was by no means glamorous, or filled with gratuitous sex. This interest led to my discovery of Nevada’s “Great Basin” through the incredible photography of Adam Jahiel (see: “Search for the Last Cowboy”), so when I saw that Shadow of the Wind by Mackey Hedges [CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2010] was not only written by an actual cowhand, but also set in the Basin, I had to read it.

The extensive blurb for this book covers the plot every bit as well as I could, so I will simply quote it here:

Dean McCuen is a young man fresh out of the Army. The son of a widowed father who owns a large and long established cattle ranch in Nevada. Dean tells in “first person” of his family’s’ rags to riches heritage; being brought up by wealthy “Eastern” relatives, and the life experiences that have shaped his character. After being discharged from the Military, Dean decides to go out on his own and gain some first hand experience before seeking his place in the family business.

Tap McCoy, a 60 year old who is a cowboy for life, is recovering from a very debauchedshadow of the wind - last cowboy and regretful week. On the outskirts of town, Dean picks up a very dazed Tap with only his most important possessions – his bedroll and saddle. And so, the destinies of Dean and Tap become entwined. For Dean, it is a chance to learn from “experience;” for Tap, it is a quick “getaway” out of town.

Readers are introduced to many characters including, a grumpy old ranch owner that hates everyone, an attractive, flirtatious girl that enjoys having men fight over her, alcoholic cowboys that spend all their hard earned money on week long drunks, prejudice that includes Indians, Whites and Blacks and an eccentric desert hermit as well as a host of other interesting characters.

There is nothing fictional about this story other than the plot. The characters are real, the adventures actually happened and the country and ranches exist. Every fight, bucking horse ride and wild wreck actually took place. It is a factual description of the working lives of the Great Basin buckaroos during the mid 1900’s. Like Last Buckaroo, it captures a time period that has all but come to an end.

Each chapter is episodic – a story within itself. Shadow Of the Wind is steeped in history with adventure, friendship, romance and a slight degree of mystery. This “buddy story” is fast moving, written with colorful descriptive language to give the reader an accurate idea of the location and view of the country without distracting from the action.

Shadow of The Wind is a “must read” for anyone interested in the everyday lives of the people that live and work on the ranches of he west.

And, as far as a plot is concerned, the author has covered this as well.

This is not a western shoot ‘em up type of cowboy story; in fact it really doesn’t have much of a plot. It is a story I wrote for my own enjoyment while I was healing up from a broken leg.

shadow of the wind - RebThe way cattle are being run in the west is changing so fast that a lot of the old ways are being forgotten as well as the way people talk and think. I wanted to try and capture a little of this for future generations.

I make no claims to being an author. I am a buckaroo (high desert cowboy) that enjoys putting his thoughts down on paper. Because I have no formal training or education in the literary field my style drives professionals crazy. In fact when the editor got hold of what I had written he almost had a fit. He had more than a small amount of difficulty finding the correct spelling for many of the western slang terms that are used. However, the thing that came closest to driving him nuts was the fact that, as he said, “It is nothing more than a series of short stories strung together by a thin thread of unrelated facts!”

My answer to that was, “SO WHAT? It’s not supposed to be a novel. It’s a little bunkhouse tale about the lives of a couple of high desert buckaroos. It was written with the intent and hope of passing on information in an enjoyable manner.”

shadow of the wind - horse shadowI guess what I am trying to say is that if you are starting out to read this with the objective to criticize you are going to find plenty to work with. On the other hand if you want to get a first hand view of real western life ranging from boring to thrilling I think you will find it in these pages, at least I hope so.

Like my first book, all of the fights, brawls and bucking horse rides are real. The characters, although fictional are in part based on the lives of actual people. Even the ranches in this story are distinctively similar to actual cattle operations I have worked on or visited. In other words “ This is the real deal” even if the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

And that, dear friends about says it all. It reads like an authentic western because it is, and that means it is more entertaining and informative than perfect. Highly recommended for true “buckaroos.” Five bees.

Note: All photographs by Adam Jahiel.

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Interested in Canadian history? Want to see more? Then visit my new page:  In Praise of Canadian History.

It is a collection of little-known facts and events in Canadian history, and a bibliography of interesting books I have collected to date. Latest post: Overlanders of 1862.

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If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

      

Thanks for dropping by. Happy Canada Day to all.

July 1, 2013 - Posted by | fiction/autobiographical, non-GLBT, The great basin, Traditional Western | , , , , , ,

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