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Reviewed by Paul Johnson for Readers' Favorite
Quaker farm-boy James Deeter loves western books and dreams of one day heading west. The Civil War is raging and most boys at 18 are called to serve. After his Catholic father runs off to war, his Quaker mother is fearful that he will be taken. Her fears come true when Union Army recruiters come for him. With his mother’s blessing, he starts west with plans to become a cowboy. Instead, he lands in the middle of the bloody guerrilla war along the Kansas-Missouri border. It is a complete shock to his Quaker pacifist upbringing. James knows he’s in trouble. To save his life, he rides with rebel leaders William Quantrill, "Bloody Bill" Anderson, and the Younger brothers. In his heart he knows he cannot hurt anyone. But things can rapidly change.
I found Bleeding Kansas by Dave Eisenstark to be a very well written and entertaining tale. Since it is told in the first person, the reader actually feels the story unfold. Although geared toward the young adult audience, readers of all ages that appreciate good action adventure of the old west will really enjoy it. The story is simply but skillfully told. The cast of characters is thoroughly defined and the dialogue is right for the period. There is danger, suspense, intrigue and a little romance thrown together in an interesting period story as well. The story moves along at a rapid pace, making the reader want to see what’s going to happen next. I really enjoyed reading it. Overall, well done.