“The General and Monaville, Texas” is a skillfully blended mix of historical fiction, humor, race relations, coming of age, revenge, and retaliation. The book is a literary work of fiction set in the reconstruction era immediately following the Civil War, the freeing of the slaves, and the repercussions of facilitating this freedom in the areas surrounding Monaville, Texas.
The story is narrated by the young teenage grandson of General Leander Wilhite. The General has returned to the family plantation, Catalpa, to resume his life, hoping to put the war behind him. He assumed responsibility for the horses and livestock and turned the cotton fields and management of the sharecroppers to his son to oversee. The General virtually withdrew from society and fell into a set pattern to carry out his chosen responsibilities.
Young John Ross is faced with unanswered questions. The slaves have been officially freed; however, some of the citizens of Monaville cannot accept this as fact. There is an undercurrent of racial tension as the Klan seeks to undermine the competition of the new regime of former slave sharecroppers.
Joe Bax combines humorous incidents of a budding friendship, gossiped “romance” with his classmate Miss Afton, his twin sisters, enduring church services, a turtle farm project, and a buffalo roping contest.
Using the vernacular of dirt poor white sharecroppers, and former slaves Bax introduces genuine characters like, Blue, Momma Mae, the Weiberg family, Ocy McCoy, and Big Charlie. Other key characters include: John Ross’ parents Luther and Devon Wilhite, The Colonel, Dale, Broken Feather and Rack.
As the tension builds, the “Kluxers” add to their acts of destruction and torment to malicious murder. They kill an innocent son of Blue, a former slave, in an attempt to retaliate the death of McCoy’s son. The sheriff and Yankee district attorney join in the conspiracy to indict and convict Colonel Reams Whitworth of murder. The General personally senses the need and is called on to take action against the planned injustice.
Joe G. Bax writes with feeling. He involves the emotions, develops genuine characters that are believable allowing the reader to identify with them. He has carefully crafted a plot which builds to a crescendo of suspense and an unexpected climatic conclusion.
“The General and Monaville, Texas” by Joe G. Bax is destined to become an award-winning, literary best-seller. This is a book that should be in the library of every public school, and on the required reading list of every teacher and professor who teaches American Civil War History! Phenomenal writing, engaging reading.
The General and Monaville, Texas
Joe G. Bax
Emerald Book Company (2009)
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (7/09