About the Book, Ghostly Bugles
- Genre: Historical Fiction / Texas History
- Publisher: Wild Lark Books
- Date of Publication: February 23, 2023
- Number of Pages: 210 pages
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Do the souls of the dead reach out from beyond the grave? Do echoes of the past resound through the ages? Are such insights a privilege or a curse? An old man grapples with these questions and his own mortality as he re-examines one of the most famous battles in history – the Alamo.
The 1836 siege and battle as well as current efforts to restore Alamo Plaza to hallowed ground and create a world-class attraction unfold as the old man tries to make sense of his memories, dreams, and perceived outreach by the dead whose souls cry out to him for inclusion and recognition. Beyond the myth and the legend are their stories as well as his own.
Ghostly Bugles is a fictional re-creation of the Alamo story, rich in historical detail with a unique paranormal element. The narrative combines elements of the traditional storyline with contemporary efforts to “Re-imagine the Alamo”. The dual timelines balance our understanding of this world- renowned event and provide new perspective and appreciation for the courage and sacrifice of everyone involved – Texian and Tejano defenders, and Mexican soldiers
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About the Author, Max L. Knight
MAX L. KNIGHT was born in Panama and grew up in the Canal Zone and in San Antonio, Texas, where he and his wife reside. In addition to degrees from Texas A&M University and Campbell University, Max served twenty-four years in the United States Army (1973-1997), retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
He became the first Alamo Docent in 2004, but the tragic events of 9/11 compelled him to reactivate his security clearance and, when the approval finally came through, he returned to work in support of U.S. Counterintelligence operations. A stage IV throat cancer diagnosis in 2014 abruptly ended that phase of his life, and he turned to writing to help him get through the chemo, radiation, and surgeries. Max is currently cancer free.
His other works include Silver Taps, Palo Duro, and Tarnished Brass.
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The first thing that struck me about Max L. Knight’s latest historical novel, Ghostly Bugles, was the language. It’s gorgeous. Every word feels like it was carefully chosen, and the overall effect is that the reader feels immersed in the story – even the grimmer bits, because, this is, after all, the story of the Battle of the Alamo, and there is no small amount of discussion of dead bodies and battle victims, though, it should be said, there is no glorification of death in this story.
This novel is far more than that, however. It’s a deep exploration into people that are just names in history books for most of us: Santa Anna, Bowie, Crockett, Travis, the thirteen-day siege that was a defining moment in Texas history, the 90-minute battle, the aftermath, and the way it all echoes into modern times, including current restoration and development efforts.
Fictionalizing a real event requires great knowledge and great craft, and in this book, author Knight displays both. He uses a contemporary character known only as The Old Man to ground the story in the here and now, and we are left wondering if he is dreaming or actually remembering the events of 187 years ago, and the people involved.
Aside from the brilliant use of language, what I really liked is that Knight turned these historical figures into dimensional people. I did NOT grow up in Texas (though I ultimately lived there longer than anywhere else) so I don’t recall a lot of time spent on the Alamo in my history classes, but it was certainly mentioned, especially in California, which also shares a border with Mexico. So it was only in this book that I learned of Bowie’s failing health, or that Crockett and Travis were at odds with each other, and had supporting factions who were equally so. I also hadn’t realized that Travis was known for his oration skills. It’s this humanization of legends that really made this story sing for me.
Or maybe it wasn’t singing, but the sound of the eponymous ghostly bugles. As someone who has a visceral reaction to the sound of “Taps,” the title evoked the realities of battle as much as the story it introduced.
Overall, this is a richly descriptive story, fictional, but based in truth. It’s a compelling read, but it also sent me on a hunt for non–fiction accounts that were deeper than what’s in a grade school or high school textbook. I love it when a novel provokes that sort of response in me, and I suspect other readers will, as well.
Goes well with: chicken quesadillas and Shiner bock.
Signed copy of Ghostly Bugles
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 5/25/23)
Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour
Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page for this book, with links updated daily, or follow the links below to visit each blog directly:
|The Clueless Gent
|Hall Ways Blog
|Guatemala Paula Loves to Read
|Writing and Music
|Shelf Life Blog
|The Real World According to Sam
|All the Ups and Downs
|Reading by Moonlight
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