Posted by: Rob | April 30, 2009

I, Quantrill by Max McCoy

I have previously admitted to a fondness for old western novels written by Louis L’Amour.  Although I have read a handful of other authors, I just haven’t found a single writer that could hold my attention.  Until now.

I had been looking to sign a certain paperback copy of Louis L’Amour’s “Bad Medicine” out of the bookmobile again in order to write a little piece about it here.  I wasn’t having much luck, but week after week I was seeing this book, titled “I, Quantrill“.  On a whim I signed it out.  I’d never heard of Max McCoy before, and was interested to learn he was from Kansas* and that he has a penchant for the Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas.

I, Quantrill” was an excellent book.  Well written with characters who seemed almost to live and breathe, I think, due to the details revealed about them.

The story starts with Quantrill’s famous raid on Lawrence, Kansas and ends with his death at the age of 27, although there is an epilog of sorts to more or less tie up the tale.

I’ve always been interested in the American Civil War** but had never read much about the guerillas and partisans who roamed and raided over Missouri mostly and into Kansas.  Of course, many of these bands spawned many of the famous outlaws that captured the imagination of many in the years following the end of the Civil War, including the likes of Frank and Jesse James.

Even though the novel is essentially fictional and is billed as an historical novel, I found the many places were depicted accurately and I was given to reminiscing a bit when the story took place in locales I have actually visited.

McCoy has written other novels, both old western and modern, and I intend to sample some of his other work.

In the meantime, if you like well written novels about the outlaw days in America during the Civil War, then I recommend you give “I, Quantrill” a try.

* As some of you might already know, I spent 3 1/2 years in southeast Kansas.  I worked in Coffeyville where, in 1892, the Dalton gang attempted to rob two banks at once in one day.  Unsuccessfully.

** I’ve heard it described as both “The War of Northern Aggression” and “The War of Southern Secession”.  Whichever moniker is used is highly dependent upon the company present!


  1. Good holiday reading perhaps. Am facing two 27 hour trips in and out of the US, so will see what I can find ….

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