The Captive Boy by Julia Robb

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The Captive Boy will capture you and keep you engaged from the beginning all the way through the end and also give you insights into the difficulties faced by those who fought on both sides of the Indian Wars in Texas after the Civil War.

Col. Mac McKenna’s Fourth Cavalry recaptures white captive August Shiltz from the Comanche, only to find August is determined to return to the Indians. McKenna attempts to civilize August and becomes the boy’s foster father.

But when August kills another boy in a fight, McKenna rejects him. August escapes from Fort Richards (Texas), and when war with the Comanche breaks out, McKenna discovers August is a war leader–and his greatest enemy.

Review by Steve Mathisen:

This is an awesome book. The author skillfully weaves the story of the attempted repatriation of a young boy that had been captured by the Comanches and had now been recaptured by the US Cavalry through a series of news dispatches, diary entries, and an unpublished novel. Viewing the story progressively through the eyes of several characters we gain insights into the two main characters August Schiltz and Colonel Theodore (Mac) Mckenna.

The difficulty of weaving one continuous narrative through the reports and eyes of several characters should not be underestimated. Author Julia Robb pulls it off magnificently. Her powers of description are amazing. You will feel as though you are there with the characters in the moment as she pulls all five senses into play expertly.

It will capture you and keep you engaged from the beginning all the way through the end and also give you insights into the difficulties faced by those who fought on both sides of the Indian Wars in Texas after the Civil War. Buy this book. You will not be disappointed​. 

Review by Richard L. Weaherly:

The Captive Boy opens with August Shiltz being forced into the office of Col. Mac McKeena at Fort Richards. The colonel attempts to take the boy under his wings and goes the extra mile in his attempt to do so. August resists any attempt at assimilation, insisting he is from the Quahadi Band of the Comanche. When McKenna sends August to school with other kids from the Fort, one in particular makes a habit of taunting August. After a series of confrontations, August kills the trouble maker and flees.

A short time later, a supply train to Fort Richards is ambushed by hundreds of Comanche. One of the teamsters was brutally tortured and disfigured. After an investigation soldiers found a calling card. August had become the leader of the band of attackers.

I’m a big fan of Julia Robb’s novels. This has become a new favorite. Set during the Red River Indian War, it covers a vast expanse from Fredericksburg, Texas in the south to the Llano Estacado in the north and from the southern plains to Santa Fe. Now the best Indian fighter in the Army with his 4th Cavalry follow the trails and scouts to track down the brutal Comanche in a life or death struggle. The story is told through the eyes of witnesses though journals and other historical documents in a style that reads a fresh as the morning news.

The author, Julia Robb, thoroughly researched the period and the places. Her characters have rich, realistic, multi-dimensional traits. It’s a complex story with emotional swings, tragedy and atrocities. That said, it doesn’t try to hide the realities of war and does not blush in the presentation of those hard facts.

You’ll find a rich, literary quality to The Captive Boy. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.