Civil War in Kansas by Roy Bird © 2004, Pelican
Going way off my usual beaten path this time with a bit of non-fiction, a short history of Kansas’ involvement in the Civil War. I picked this up at a local authors extravaganza in Emporia, Kansas because one these days I intend to write a fictionalized, first person biography of Jim Lane, a fascinating character (with a capital C) from Kansas’ early days. Lane was a flamboyant politician, abolitionist, plunderer, and friend of Abraham Lincoln. Also died of a gunshot wound to the head, only in Lane’s case, self-inflicted. Yeah, one of these days, so I read any new books dealing with the Lane era I come across.
Bird’s Civil War in Kansas is true to its title, sticking to how Kansas and Kansans directly participated in the 1861-1865 war. It is concise and to the point, a quick read that provides a good feel for the highs and lows of the war that occurred on Kansas, and by extension, western Missouri soil, and glimpses of the power players. The book is fact intensive, which takes concentration, but Bird throws in just enough bits of personal color about the characters to keep it from being a bore. It would be an excellent into book for someone beginning to study this era in Kansas history.
Bird’s facts squared with what I have logged in my long term memory, so on that basis, I declare the book accurate. And it did have one tidbit about Lane I had not read previously and which I will work into my fictionalized biography of him one of these days, so thank you, Roy. This one is staying on my permanent bookshelf, tucked in with all that creepy fiction.