October 22, 2014

Meet Author Charles Ray and his fascinating novel, Frontier Justice: Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal

A fascinating tale of one of the great black heroes of the American West!
Read the First Chapter!
Meet the author, Charles Ray!


In 1875, Indian Territory, in what is now the state of Oklahoma, was a haven for thieves, swindlers, and murderers, all trying to escape the reach of the law. When President U.S. Grant appointed Judge Isaac Parker judge of the Western District of Arkansas, which included the territory, Parker was intent upon bringing fugitives to justice. He authorized U.S. Marshal James Fagan to hire 200 deputy marshals to help police the 4,500 square mile lawless territory. Among those deputies was Bass Reeves. Born a slave in 1838, Reeves had spent the Civil War as a runaway in Indian Territory, and spoke five tribal languages. He was an expert tracker and an accomplished marksman, and at 6’2” and 180 pounds in an era when the average male height was 5’6”, was an imposing figure. During his 32 year tenure as a deputy marshal, Reeves brought in over 3,000 fugitives. Unable to either read or write, he had someone read warrants to him and memorized every detail – never making a mistake. In this fictional account of his first two years, ride along with one of the most famous U.S. Deputy Marshals in American history.


Review
by

If you like wild west stories with strong, but silent, courageous gunslinging heroes, then this historical biography is definitely the book for you. Bass Reeves is a black man, a farmer/rancer toiling hard to provide for his growing family. When he is offered a job as a Deputy U.S. Marshal and asked to hunt down wanted criminals, he is persuaded to give it a try. Not only does he quietly go about his task, but he captures every fugitive on his list without any loss of life. He is such a quick draw with his guns, that no outlaw can outgun him, and they usually surrender like lambs.

Author Charles Ray, with his easy, clear writing style, pens a wonderous tale about this fascinating man who broke through the restraints of race to become one of the most heralded U.S. Marshals of his time. Impeccable research, colorful characters, outrageous outlaws, and a story that makes you cheer as you read along, makes this a novel for everyone to read. Western fans will love the glimpse into the real wild west and the quiet, unassuming Bass Reeves who excels in capturing his bounty! This is an easy, absorbing novel that will keep you turning pages to the end.

Meet the Author behind the fascinating novel!


Charles Ray

1.  Welcome, I’m so glad to have this opportunity to chat with you. Can you share with my readers the essence of the story you’ve penned?

Frontier Justice: Bass Reeves, Deputy US Marshal is a fictionalized account of the first two years on the job of Bass Reeves, one of the first African-American deputy US marshals west of the Mississippi. A freed slave, he could neither read nor write English, but spoke five Native American languages. He was an expert tracker and a marksman with rifle or pistol with either hand. At over 6 feet, and around 160 – 180 pounds, he was larger than the average American man of the era. He would have someone read warrants to him, and would memorize the contents. During a 32-year career as a deputy marshal, he brought in over 3,000 fugitives and was never wounded. He often used trickery and disguise to capture wanted felons.



2.  You’ve chosen a very interesting title. What inspired the title? What inspired the book?

Reeves was a deputy marshal for western Arkansas and the Oklahoma Territory. At that time, the Oklahoma Territory was largely ungoverned and home to many fugitives. After the Civil War, it was part of the American frontier, and men like Reeves were assigned to bring justice to it. That inspired the title. The book itself was inspired when I came across information about Reeves when I was doing research for a historical/western series I write about the Buffalo Soldiers (African-American soldiers assigned to the Ninth Cavalry after the Civil War, who spent most of their time on the western frontier).


3. What makes this book special to you?

This book, like my Buffalo Soldier series is special to me because, even though they are fiction, I do lots of research to make them historically accurate. I spent 20 years in the US Army myself, and am proud to know that African-Americans played such an important role in the country’s westward expansion.


4.  What makes this a book that people MUST read and WHY?

Popular media, particularly when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, portrayed the American west inaccurately. Cowboys, outlaws, and soldiers were not, as shown in most of the movies or popular fiction, were not all white. Nearly 10% of the military on the frontier were men of color (9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments). Most ranches and cattle drives included black and Hispanic cowboys, and some of them were well known during the era, but somehow left out of the history books and popular films. The rodeo rider who invented bull dogging, for instance, was African-American. Same for the outlaws of the period, many of whom were former slaves. There were also black settlers, some who established all-black communities in places like Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. I think we all benefit when we know the truth about our history, and just how diverse the country’s history is.


5. What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity?
  
I’ve always been something of a story teller. I wrote my first short story when I was 12 or 13 – won a national Sunday school magazine fiction contest with it. I get story ideas from anywhere and everywhere. I hear a random conversation on the subway and it sparks a story idea or a character; I read a newspaper or magazine story, and get an idea for a story. For instance, once while waiting for my wife at the doctor’s office, I read an interview with Stan Lee, in which he was quoted as saying that he didn’t like zombie movies or stories because the zombies were always so ghoulish. His view was that someone given a second chance at living – even as a zombie – would more likely want to do some of the things he or she didn’t get to do the first time around. This inspired me to write I, Zombie, a short story about a zombie who finds himself wandering in a city and his desire is to know why and how he died, and in the meantime, he helps people being victimized by muggers and robbers. This story has been accepted for a short story anthology which will be published by the end of this year. My advice to writers – pay attention to your surroundings, eavesdrop (politely and at a distance of course), and write down your impressions. Story ideas are everywhere.


6.  What has been the biggest stumbling block in your writing? Can you share some tips to help others get past similar problems?

The biggest stumbling block? Probably doubt. When you do that first book, as soon as it goes out, you begin doubting anyone will want to read it. It’s almost inevitable; you wonder if you’re really good enough. How to get over it? Keep writing. Finish one thing and move on to the next. I always keep two projects going at the same time, so that when I get bogged down by doubt with one, I can skip over to the other. That keeps me fresh. I keep a journal of ideas, often nothing more than suggested titles, or character sketches. From time to time I pull one out and begin working on it. The best way to improve your writing, and as a consequence your confidence in yourself as a writer, is to write, write, write. I write every day – no less than 1,000 words. Some people are comfortable writing in only one genre, others (like me) cross genre lines frequently. If I enjoy reading it, I enjoy writing it.


7.  Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote your book.

My promotions are mostly the usual: free book offerings, discounted prices, buy one get one. Probably the most unusual promotion was when I was invited to speak on government ethics at the army’s Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. This is the location of the Buffalo Soldier monument, so I took a few copies of my Buffalo Soldier novels with me, and before and after my lecture, I gave them to some of the senior staff and asked them to read and tell me what they thought of them. I discovered in the process that the book store at the monument had no fiction about the Buffalo Soldiers, and very little mainstream historical stuff. After reading my books, they did an interview and feature in their association magazine and ordered a few copies for the book store. Over the next two months after the magazine appeared, sales of the series topped 800 per month. They’ve dropped, averaging 20 – 40 per month, but that’s consistent sales since December 2012 – so, I’m not complaining. I also provided copies of my books to an author I know in southern Africa (Zimbabwe and South Africa), and she reads excerpts when she visits schools and institutions, which has generated modest sales in that region. For Frontier Justice, as well as my other books, when I offer free e-Books, I post on my blog and ask readers to consider doing a review. That gets a little notice. Lately, I’ve been posting excerpts and two full novels on Wattpad. That’s getting more readers and will hopefully induce people to look at my other books.


8.  Each author is different in the way they create a work of fiction. Please describe for us how you plan or plot a story.

I start with a theme or title. Then I create a list of main characters with fairly full histories. After I have these two nailed down, I decide on a time frame, and create a calendar. The next step is to do a rough chapter outline – what are the main events in each chapter, and which character or characters is/are involved. The last step before I begin writing is to do historical research of the time frame to get some ideas of what was going on. I pick a few significant events and make notes. Some (not all) will find their way into the story to help establish a credible narrative setting. I then start writing, making changes as I go – until I get to a point where the story seems to naturally end. For my mysteries, an additional step is to establish clues and decide where and how to plant them. Alert readers will often be able to solve the crime before the sleuth, provided they don’t get diverted by the red herrings which I also plant.


9. Authors are very unique in the way they write, the tools they use, when they write, etc. Please describe a typical writing day for you? How do you organize your day?

I typically rise at around 6:00 or 7:00 every morning (including Saturday and Sunday). I walk the dog and then shower and dress. After I fix my breakfast I check my emails. Once that’s done, I begin writing on my work in progress. I write until I’ve finished a chapter, or done around 2,000 words. Then, I do the first sentence or paragraph of the next chapter and stop on that work for the morning. I do lunch and then take my camera or sketch book and walk in the forest behind my house taking pictures of deer, squirrels, birds, and plants, or do sketches for my blog. Sometimes I take the morning off and visit my grandchildren, and write in the afternoon. After supper in the evening (usually between 6:00 and 7:00) I return to my office to write for 2 – 3 hours. I also do lecturing and consulting, so sometimes I’m on the road. I travel with my laptop and journals, so in hotel rooms, minus the dog and cooking my own breakfast, I keep pretty much the same schedule.


10. What is your current work in progress?

I’m doing number 20 in my Al Pennyback mystery series. It’s about an heiress who ran away from her family. Her father has died leaving her and her twin brother a huge fortune, and the hero, Al Pennyback, has been hired by the law firm probating the old man’s will to find her. She’s reportedly somewhere on the coast in North Carolina (on Roanoke Island). The detective is based in DC, but I occasionally have him travel to other parts of the country with which I’m familiar. For instance, I spent several years in North Carolina (stationed at Ft. Bragg and working as a newspaper reporter), so I only have to a bit of research to make sure I’ve remembered things correctly. I was recently in the Roanoke Island area doing some consulting, so I have fresh impressions. I’m also working a severe thunderstorm into the story because Al has a phobia about thunderstorms, and it will add to the tension when he finally finds the missing heiress. The working title is A Deadly Wind Blows, which will make sense for anyone who has ever been in a real severe thunderstorm.


11Can you tell us where to find more information about you and your books and how readers can reach you?
 
My Amazon author page is at
http://www.amazon.com/Charles-Ray/e/B006WMLEZK.  

I also have a bookstore link to my books in the right sidebar of my blog:

I can be reached by email at charlesray.author@gmail.com


12.  What would you like our readers to know about you and your writing?

As I said before, I think of myself as a story teller. I don’t write what would be termed literary fiction (I also write nonfiction – I’ve done four books on leadership and management). I try to write stories that people will enjoy reading; that will enable them to suspend disbelief for a few hours and become absorbed into the story. I guess you could describe me as a pulp fiction writer, because I got my start reading pulp fiction in the early 50s and never outgrew it.



Read the first chapter of
Frontier Justice: Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal
1.
    Bass Reeves was a big man.
    At six-feet, two-inches, and weighing one hundred eighty pounds, he would have been an imposing figure even without the bushy black mustache that covered his upper lip and hung down to the edge of his square chin, the long, muscular arms, and hands, each of which was bigger than two hands on most men.
     He had just returned to his farm from a scouting job with the U.S. Marshals over in the Indian Territory, and during his absence, many of the chores which were beyond the abilities of his young sons had remained undone. Dressed in a faded pair of brown canvas pants and a blue wool shirt, he was hoisting a fence pole into the hole he’d just finished digging when he saw the rider approaching along the road from the town of Van Buren.
     His curiosity was aroused. It wasn’t often that people from town came out this way, most especially just before the middle of the day. Removing the battered brown Stetson, he took a cloth from his pocket and wiped the sweat from his broad, brown brow, and stood watching as the single rider drew nearer.
     When the rider was about a hundred yards off, Bass was able to distinguish features. He saw that it was a white man with a long, dark brown beard that came to a point midway down the front of the black coat he wore. His hair, dark brown, almost black, splayed out from under the white hat he wore pulled down low over his forehead. Bass saw the butt of a Winchester rifle jutting out of the scabbard attached to the right side of the saddle, and assumed that the man also had at least one pistol in a holster. Few men, white or black, went anywhere this close to Indian Territory without a firearm. Bass’s own weapon, a Winchester repeating rifle, was leaned against a small tree about ten feet from where he stood. He’d left his Colt .44 pistols at the house, not figuring he’d need them just to mend a little fence. And besides, they’d just have been in the way.
     Not that he was in any way worried. The stranger didn’t seem to pose any threat. He rode up, pulling his horse to a halt about ten feet away. Up close, Bass noted that he was almost as tall as he was, but considerably lighter, maybe a hundred fifty pounds or so. His expression, while not hostile, wasn’t particularly friendly either. There was something about the face that seemed familiar.
     The man dismounted. He left his rifle in the scabbard and tied his horse to the fence post Bass had just an hour earlier planted in the ground. As he walked closer, his coat flapped open revealing a revolver high on his right hip.
     “Don’t seem particularly friendly,” Bass thought. “But, don’t seem threatenin’ neither.”
     The man stopped just beyond his reach.
     “You Bass Reeves?” he asked.
     “I am,” Bass replied. He wasn’t a man for much small talk, and until he knew who the man was and why he was here, he decided to say as little as possible without unnecessarily riling him.
     “I’m James Fagan,” the man said. “I just been appointed U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Arkansas.”
     Then, Bass understood why the man seemed familiar. He’d heard during his last scouting job for the marshals that President Grant was appointing a new marshal for the district. He’d never met the man before, but from the descriptions he knew this was him. Fagan had been a general in the rebel army and had commanded Arkansas volunteers against the Union forces. Bass had heard that he’d finally been paroled and the president had appointed him to be the main federal law enforcement officer for the country’s roughest district.
     The Western District of Arkansas took in the western half of the state, which had problems enough, but also included the Indian Territory to the west in the Oklahoma Territory. Inhabited mostly by Cherokee, Seminole, and Creek Indians who’d been forced there as white settlers took over their lands in the east, they had formed tribal police to take care of their own people, but the territory was also settled by others, white and black, who were often trying to get away from the laws of the United States. Because the Indian police only dealt with Indians, the Indian Territory had become several thousand square miles of mostly lawless territory.
     Bass had spent most of the war hiding out there, living with all the tribes. He’d learned their languages, and this, along with his familiarity with the area was the reason he was often hired as a guide for the marshals when they entered the territory in pursuit of wanted fugitives.
     “Must want to hire me to guide him,” he thought. His dark brown face remained impassive. “Congratulations on your appointment, marshal,” he said. “What can I do for you?”
     “I’m here to talk to you about a job.”
     “Well, sir – I just yestiddy come back from a job over to Injun Territory, and I reckon I needs to do a mite o’ chores here on the farm fore I go back out.”
     “You don’t understand, Reeves,” Fagan said, with a note of annoyance in his voice. “I ain’t here to hire you to scout. You probably ain’t heard, but when President Grant appointed me, he also appointed a new federal judge for the district – fella name of Isaac Parker. Now, Judge Parker’s sort of my boss, and he done ordered me to hire two hundred new deputies to police the Injun Territory. I heard tell you know the territory better than just about anybody else in these parts, and that you’re pretty fair with a gun.”
     “I guess I knows the Injun Territory ‘bout as well as a cook know his kitchen,” Bass said. There was no bragging in his voice, just a matter of fact statement. “As to bein’ good with a gun, I reckon I’m only fair to middlin’.”
     Fagan laughed. “Way I hear it, you so good with that Winchester of yours, they won’t let you compete in the Turkey Shoots ‘round here anymore.”
     Bass smiled and nodded. It was true that the locals had become so tired of him winning every prize at every Turkey Shoot they’d banned him for life from competing. He was also a crack shot with a pistol, with either hand, and there wasn’t a man within two days ride of Van Buren who’d dare go up against him in a gun, knife, or fist fight. Bass, though, wasn’t one to brag about such things. They were just facts of life he’d learned to live with.
     “What’s this here job you want to talk about iffen it ain’t guidin’?”
     “I done told you, I been ordered to hire a buncha new deputies, and I want you to be one of ‘em.”

October 21, 2014

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours Presents - Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes

A tragic loss. A desperate journey. A mother seeks the truth.

What a fabulous novel! I truly couldn't put it down!





Publication Date: January 22, 2014

Campanile Press

Formats: eBook, Hardcover, Audiobook

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery/Medieval

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A tragic loss. A desperate journey. A mother seeks the truth.


In December of 1377, four children were burned to death in a house fire. Villagers traveled hundreds of miles across England to demand justice for their children’s deaths.

Sinful Folk is the story of this terrible mid-winter journey as seen by Mear, a former nun who has lived for a decade disguised as a mute man, raising her son quietly in this isolated village. For years, she has concealed herself and all her history. But on this journey, she will find the strength to redeem the promise of her past. Mear begins her journey in terror and heartache, and ends in triumph and transcendence.

The remarkable new novel by Ned Hayes, illustrated by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Nikki McClure, Sinful Folk illuminates the medieval era with profound insight and compassion.

Praise for Sinful Folk

In December of 1377, five children are burned in a suspicious house fire. Awash in paranoia and prejudice, the fathers suspect it is the work of Jews and set out to seek justice from the king, loading the charred bodies of their boys onto a cart. Unbeknownst to them, among them is a woman, Mear, who has been hiding out in the town for the past 10 years posing as a mute man. It is a treacherous journey, for their rations are spare and the weather is brutal. And always, they are haunted by the question, Why were their boys in Benedict the weaver’s house, and who would do this to them? Mear, ever resourceful, not only watches for clues to unravel the mystery but also provides invaluable aid in finding their way, for she has traveled this way before and is the only literate one among them. The reason for her false identity is slowly revealed as the villagers are chased by bandits and must overcome numerous obstacles, hunger and fear among them. Brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed, Hayes’ novel is woven through with a deep knowledge of medieval history, all conveyed in mesmerizing prose. At the center of the novel is Mear, a brave and heartbreaking character whose story of triumph over adversity is a joy to read. –Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist *Starred Review*


“A pilgrim tale worthy of Chaucer, evocative, compelling and peopled with unforgettable characters artfully delivered by a master storyteller.” – Brenda Rickman Vantrease, bestselling author of The Illuminator and The Mercy Seller



“Brilliant, insightful, unflinching and wise. This spellbinding mystery will keep readers turning pages until the last sentence. Remarkable.” – Ella March Chase, bestselling author of The Virgin Queen’s Daughter and Three Maids for a Crown

“Suspenseful, page-turning mystery of a mother pursuing the truth… Every reader will come to love the brave and intrepid Mear, a most memorable character in a most memorable story.” – Jim Heynen, award-winning author of The Fall of Alice K.

“Sinful Folk is a work of art. Miriam’s story is a raw and brutal and passionate tale, but her story touches the reader because it’s a timeless story – a wonderful portrayal of medieval life. Highly recommended.” – Kathryn Le Veque, bestselling author of The Dark Lord and The Warrior Poet

“A suspenseful and mesmerizing tale full of rich and vital characters. Ned Hayes crafts a narrative that shows a devotion to craft in each word.” – Renée Miller, editor of On Fiction and author of In the Bones

Buy the Book

Booknote Interview with Ned Hayes


Review
by

This book is definitely making quite a stir in the historical fiction community, and after reading it, I can see why. First, it is a gripping tale about a mute named Mear whose son was one of five young boys/men burned in a house fire that was deliberately set. Second, Mear is actually a woman, hiding from her secret past. And third, this is a marvellous whodunnit filled with twists and turns and plenty of medieval brutality. 

Beautifully written, the author has weaved a brilliant tale that leaves the reader guessing to the very end chapters. Lovely first person narrative, rich descriptions, and a cast of colorful, unforgettable characters enthralled me from start to finish. 

If you like a good mystery set in a fascinating historical era with plenty of heart-wrenching, emotional, and mysterious scenes, then this is one book not to miss. Definitely worth reading. I highly reommend it to everyone! Pick it up and give it a try - you'll see why everyone is raving about it. 

About the Author


Ned Hayes is the author of the Amazon best-selling historical novel SINFUL FOLK. He is also the author of Coeur d’Alene Waters, a noir mystery set in the Pacific Northwest. He is now at work on a new novel, Garden of Earthly Delights, also set in the Middle Ages.

Ned Hayes is a candidate for an MFA from the Rainier Writer’s Workshop, and holds graduate degrees in English and Theology from Western Washington University and Seattle University.

Born in China, he grew up bi-lingually, speaking both Mandarin and English. He now lives in Olympia, Washington with his wife and two children.

For more information please visit www.sinfulfolk.com and www.nednotes.com. You can also find him on FacebookTwitterPinterestBooklikesYouTubeGoogle+, and Goodreads.

Sinful Folk Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 20

Tuesday, October 21

Wednesday, October 22
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, October 23
Guest Post at Books and Benches

Monday, October 27
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, October 28
Interview at Layered Pages

Wednesday, October 29

Thursday, October 30
Interview at Back Porchervations

Friday, October 31
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Monday, November 3
Interview at Triclinium
Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, November 4
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Wednesday, November 5
Review at Deal Sharing Aunt

Thursday, November 6
Review at bookramblings

Saturday, November 8
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, November 10
Review at Book Babe

Tuesday, November 11
Review at Impressions in Ink
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, November 14
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, November 18
Review & Giveaway at Beth’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 19
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review at Bookworm Babblings

Thursday, November 20

Friday, November 21
Review at Library Educated

October 15, 2014

The Ouroboros Key by Patricia Leslie



Prophetic dreams have haunted Dan Tenney since childhood, foretelling him of a life-changing event that is soon to take place. But before he can learn the meaning of his visions, he is attacked by a shadowy group of extremists: the Brotherhood of the Grail. 

Finding sanctuary underground, an ancient relic comes into his possession and Dan begins to understand the path his visions have laid out before him. His quest will be fraught with an otherwordly people and an event that could tip the balance in favour of human existence—or disastrously against it. The mysterious Brotherhood will do everything in their power to prevent Dan from fulfilling his destiny as the Bearer of Ouroboros.

Strange, prophetic dreams of the world’s future are a regular occurrence for Dan, but ever since he recovered from a serious, nearly fatal head injury, the dreams intensified and evolved into even more powerful, stranger visions. When a group of radicals make an attempt on his life, he is rescued by two vagabonds. He stumbles upon an ancient artifact and this unleashes a profound mystery and the truth about his future and the burden he must bear.

This dark fantasy is a unique, fast-paced read about dark secrets and powerful supernatural forces. The bonds of friendship, plenty of intrigue, and a great mystery make this a fascinating story appropriate for fantasy lovers of all ages. Definitely a fun read and a page-turner! 

October 14, 2014

First Chapters - Finding Billy Battles by Ron Yates

The real-life rogue who hung out with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. 
 Read the compelling first chapter! 




Kansas City, 1948

My full name is William Fitzroy Raglan Battles, but most folks call me Billy Battles. My good friends call me Billy “Rags” Battles. More on that later.
Let me begin by owning up to some pretty terrible things I did during my life. That way, you can make up your mind right now if you want to read further.
I have killed people. And I am sad to say the first person I killed was a woman. It was entirely unintentional, and to this day, the incident haunts me. The next person I killed was that woman’s grown son, and that was  intentional. If you decide to read on, you will learn more about these two people and how they came to die at my hands.
You will also learn about other things I did—some of which I am not proud of, some of which I am. In the course of my life, I got into a lot of brawls where I had to defend myself and others in a variety of ways. I did so without regret, because in each case, someone was trying to do me or someone else harm.
Now I know the Christian Bible says it is a sin to kill, and in some of these imbroglios, I probably could have walked away and avoided the ensuing violence. I chose not to because I learned early in my life that walking away from a scrap is too often seen as a sign of weakness or cowardice and simply incites bullies and thugs to molest you later on. There were a few individuals who tried their damndest to put an end to me, but fortunately, I was able to dispatch or incapacitate those malefactors before they could apply the coup de grâce.
So there you have it—a forewarning about me and my sometimes-turbulent life. As the Romans used to say, “Caveat emptor,” if you decide to continue reading.
I don’t know if anybody will ever read what I am putting to paper here, but I figure I should do it anyway. A few folks have told me my experiences are fascinating because they show what it was like in Kansas and a lot of other places in the last century, when life could turn violent and capricious without warning.
As I am writing this, I am eighty-eight years old, and the year is 1948. I am not sure how much longer I will be on this earth, so I figure I had better write pretty fast before I join the Great Majority. I have been fortunate in that my memory still serves me quite well, but I must admit that for much of my life, I kept several journals, and it’s those journals that have kept my mind on the trail when it was inclined to wander off into the brush.
It’s also those journals that helped me make sense, now that I am an old man, of some of the things I saw and did during my life. It’s a funny thing, but as you grow older and you have time to look back on your life, things begin to make more sense to you. I guess that’s what they call wisdom—not that I’m necessarily a wise man. I’m just somebody who had the good fortune to see and do a lot of things—some pretty awful, some pretty wonderful—and the good Lord has blessed me, or cursed me, with the capacity to remember most of them.
There are some things I wish I could forget—things other people did and things that I did. But I cannot. Consequently, I have lived for decades with many ghosts—not the kind that appear as apparitions in the night, but the kind that grab hold of your mind and force you to remember even when you don’t want to.
I know what it is like to be a hunter of men, and I know what it is like to be hunted. I can tell you, I much prefer the former over the latter. I have known and caused terrible fear. I have experienced and inflicted dreadful pain. I have loved and been loved, and I have been, without doubt, hated by some.
But I have always tried to live my life as my mother taught me—with uprightness, reliability, and consequence. I wasn’t always successful. Sometimes my disposition turned dark, and I did things I truly regret today. I am, after all, one of God’s wretched creatures—a simple mortal with all the imperfections and deficiencies of that species.
Now, I don’t claim that my life was any more important than anybody else’s. Most folks who lived in the nineteenth century had their share of adventures—some more than others. But what I think is important is that the truth about certain things be told—or at least the truth as I witnessed it in those days. There has been so much fiction and fabrication passed along as fact about things that happened in places like Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona, Colorado, and so on that people today have no real idea of what really went on back then.
For example, the moving-picture people have gotten it almost all wrong—not that they were ever trying to get it right. After all, they are in the entertainment business—not the truth-telling business. They have made some folks so much bigger than life that I have trouble figuring out if they are talking about the same people I used to know or had some acquaintance with. And some folks have been either forgotten or turned into the worst kind of villains. I am not sure which is worse.
Hell, they even got a lot of our history wrong. The Spanish-American War, for example. A lot of that was fought in the Far East, and most Americans don’t even know it. I know it because I was there fighting in the Philippines. That is a dark chapter in our history, I can tell you. I was also privileged to have spent time in other parts of the Orient at a time when that part of the world was still pretty exotic and mysterious to most Americans.
And that’s not all. There was a lot of skirmishing later on down in Mexico that we were mixed up in after Doroteo Arango, alias Pancho Villa, and his little army invaded the United States back in 1915. He led the U.S. Army on a merry chase throughout Mexico and leveled an American town in New Mexico.
The late General George S. Patton (in those days just a shavetail lieutenant) even brought back the body of the commander of Villa’s bodyguards tied to the hood of his car like a big buck deer. I know that, because I was there. But I wager students today don’t read anything about any of that in school.
The folks in Hollywood and those who write books and radio programs have added so much twaddle and claptrap to things that happened that I sometimes have to ask myself if I missed something. Because what they are depicting is so far away from the truth as to be mythology. I never thought much about that until now, when I realized that all the rubbish `coming out of Hollywood and over the radio and in books and magazines and on these new contraptions called televisions is being passed off, or at least being accepted, as fact.
Sometimes we just don’t see things the way they really are until we can stand back from them and look at them with the viewpoint of time and distance. That’s what a professor at the University of Kansas once told me when I was a student there for a while back in the 1870s. I never finished my college education—a fact that troubled my mother until her dying day. Nevertheless, I learned just enough at that place to be a modest man of letters, but not enough to be a danger to anyone or myself, except on a few singular occasions. My time at college may have been the two most important years of  my life because it gave me a leg up on a lot of folks back then who couldn’t read or write or study things out in a logical way.
I was no warrior. Never wanted to be. Nevertheless, I got pushed or pulled into some regretful scraps.
I did serve a hitch in the army, and that was a true adventure. In fact, I was a scribbler, a newspaperman for most of my life. But in those days, there were no precise lines between journalists and the people they were writing about. I was just fortunate that I was able to write about what I saw and what I experienced. Not many men or, for that matter, women, in those days had that opportunity. I consider myself most fortunate in that regard.
Now that my life is drawing to a close, I am eager to put as much of it to paper as I can. Maybe someday my descendants will be able to pass it on to their children, and they to their children. Even better would be if a larger audience might read it, but I am not an author of great literary works, so I cannot expect that to happen. I guess my modest wish is that I be able to share what I humbly regard as an eventful life with those who follow me and anybody else who might pick up these pages. But mostly, I want to set the record straight on a few things and about some of the people I got to know when I was much younger.
My life started off pretty slow, like most lives do. There was nothing special about my childhood years except for the fact that I had no father and it was up to my mother to keep me on a short leash. But about the time I hit eighteen or nineteen, things got to moving pretty fast—faster in fact than I ever thought possible. It was around that time that I met some folks, some good and some not so good, who would reenter my life many times over the next several decades. And it was around that time that I began my journey down the owl hoot trail.
But I am getting ahead of myself. I had best start from the beginning.

CHAPTER 1

I don’t remember much of anything about my life before I was eight or nine. Most of what I do recall comes from conversations with my mother and her memories. There were some old letters and my mother’s diary too. But mostly it’s me piecing people, places, and events together as best I can to describe the foundation for all the years that followed. It was a strong foundation, put down by many people whom I will talk about later on.
Of course, the person who was most responsible for laying a sound foundation for my life was my mother. She was born Hannelore Kluge, April 6, 1836, on a farm in eastern Illinois at a time when Illinois was still considered the frontier. Her parents were German immigrants from Germany’s Harz mountain region. Mother was tough as buffalo hide, with strong hands that never seemed to stop working. I can still hear that little poem she used to recite whenever she thought I was behaving like a shirker:
Each morning sees some task begun, Each evening sees it close;  
Something attempted, something done, Has earned a night’s repose.  
I found out later that it came from Longfellow’s “The Village Blacksmith,” but as far as I was concerned, the sentiment belonged to my mother, who never stopped working until the day she died.
I was born around nine o’clock at night on February 28, 1860, in a three-room wood plank and sod house in what is now Ford County, Kansas. I was named after FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, otherwise known as Lord Raglan.
My father, who was born in England, thought Lord Raglan was one of England’s greatest heroes.
Raglan was with the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo in 1814, where he was wounded.
His right arm had to be amputated. At the end of the surgery, which was performed without any anesthesia, he told an orderly to bring him his amputated arm so he could remove a ring that his wife had given him. Later he commanded the British troops during the 1854 Crimean War, where he died.
My mother remembered that the night I was born, it was so cold out that the door froze shut and my father had to climb out a window to get to the well. When he did, he had to hack through a good four inches of ice with an iron pick to get to water. He found three of our hens frozen flat against the outdoor privy. They had gotten out of the coop during the night and couldn’t figure out how to get back in.
Our house was on about 160 acres of hardscrabble prairie land near the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail. In those days, there was nothing around there but prairie dogs, Kiowa’s and Cheyenne’s. And of course, wagons moving southwest over the cutoff from the Santa Fe Trail. Most folks who traveled through the area called it the Great American Desert because it was so barren. In 1859, my father and my mother were part of a wagon train moving west from Westport, Missouri.
They had met and married in Lawrence, Kansas—sometime around 1857, as I recall. My father’s family moved onto some pretty good land there along the Kaw river around 1852. My mother and her family had moved to Lawrence from Illinois around 1856. Lawrence was founded in 1854 by the New England Emigrant Aid Society in an effort to keep the Kansas territory free from slavery. It is said that Lawrence is one of the few cities in the United States founded strictly for political reasons. My mother and her family were ardent abolitionists, as were most of the folks who moved to Lawrence around that time. As a teenager, my mother was actively involved in the Underground Railroad that moved slaves to freedom through Lawrence.
Like most folks back then, my father’s family was looking for a better life, and the west was the place to find it. Moving west meant more land to farm because in those days, your wealth was most often measured by how much land you owned. The Battles were not folks who liked to stay in one place very long.
It’s a trait that I no doubt inherited. There was always something better over the next hill, some new opportunity. So less than a year after my father and my mother were married, the Battles decided to sell out and head west.
My father used $175 of the money from the sale of his share of the family farm to buy a new Studebaker wagon. He and mother loaded up their belongings and hooked up with a wagon train that had started out from Westport. As they got deep into western Kansas, most of the train went north along the banks of the Arkansas River toward Colorado, but my father didn’t want any part of the mountains. He and a few others chose to head southwest toward the Cimarron instead.
My mother and father didn’t get very far. They busted an axle and wheel on what turned out to be some pretty decent land, which is saying a lot because land out there is mostly rolling prairie grass, bluffs, and sand hills. In those days, you could go for miles and never see a tree. Our land had timber on it—not a lot, but enough cottonwoods and box elders to make life easier. Most important of all, though, was the underground spring that supplied us with good freshwater. I learned later that the spring was fed by the Ogallala Aquifer, which lies under parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
My father and my mother planted vegetables, potatoes, wheat, and some corn, though growing corn out there was a challenge. My father had ideas of raising cattle, and he collected enough longhorn range stock to start a cow camp. He traded with the always-unpredictable Kiowa and Southern Cheyenne Indians; and when the weather cooperated, we had enough to eat and wear. Our place became a kind of stopover for a lot of the fur traders and buffalo hunters who roamed Kansas and Colorado in those days. They always brought us meat and hides in return for my mother’s home cooking. Soon our house grew into a kind of outpost, with folks stopping by and trading for grain, hides, and other necessaries. Our farm became known as Battles Gap because to get to it, you had to pass through a long narrow valley flanked by eighty-foot limestone bluffs. To leave, you had to pass along a small rivulet that ran through another ravine.
I am pretty sure a couple hundred wagons passed through Battles Gap during the time we lived there. But even with all the wagons coming through, it was hard on my mother. The nearest neighbors were about fifteen miles away. My mother was a sociable woman, and she missed the more civilized kind of life she had back in Lawrence. I think those folks stopping by probably kept my mother from drifting into madness. It gave her something to look forward to, and most of all, it allowed her to catch up on the news, no matter where it came from. In those days, you didn’t find out anything for months after it actually happened. We didn’t learn about William Quantrill’s 1863 raid on Lawrence—in which almost two hundred people (mostly men and boys) were shot down by Quantrill’s four hundred bushwhackers—until three months after it happened. That’s when my mother learned one of her brothers and his son were two of the victims.
It was about that time that my father went off to war. He fought on the Union side. He never came back. We learned from a letter written by an officer that he had been killed just as the war was ending in 1865. He had made it through two years of fighting, including Gettysburg, only to die when a rebel sharpshooter shot him in the back while he was currying his horse. I guess that was the final blow to my mother. Even though she had managed to keep the farm going in the two years my father was gone, by 1866, it was all too much for her. I was no help, being only five or six at the time.
So she packed up what she could, and we headed east in our old Studebaker wagon. Our destination was Lawrence, where my mother’s sister, my Aunt Em, was still living. We had three mules and two horses. She sold off the longhorn stock to some of the wagons that came through and to the U.S. Army, which had put up an outpost in 1865 that later would become Fort Dodge about a day and half ride from our place just off the Santa Fe trail. My mother later told me that we stopped off at Fort Dodge. The reason was that after about two days on the prairie with that wagon and those mules, my mother could see that it was all too much for her. At the fort, she asked the captain if there was anybody around who would be trusted to help us get back to Lawrence. The captain had a better idea. Why not stay at the fort and help operate the small sutler’s general store?
Years later, my mother recalled her conversation with the captain—Pierson or Pearce, I think my mother said his name was.
“We could use an educated woman’s touch around here, Mrs. Battles,” the captain told my mother, who had attended a small college for women back in Illinois. “Why, the men out here are barely more than savages themselves— lawless miscreants without a spattering of propriety and civility. A fine, cultivated woman such as yourself would be a considerably good influence on them.”
My mother was flattered, even tempted. But while she was considering the captain’s words, she looked at me, barely six and already showing signs of turning into a little savage myself. She also was keen set on getting to Lawrence, where the rest of her family lived—including my aunt, who was now a widow lady because of Quantrill and his band of Missouri bushwhackers.
“I couldn’t possibly stay,” my mother said. “You see my boy there? Look at him. Why, he already has the makings of a coarse and rude savage, and if I stayed here that’s exactly what he would become. No, sir, I will have none of it. My man was lost in the war. I don’t want to lose my son to this rough country. I want him to be an educated gentleman.”
When the captain couldn’t convince my mother to stay on at Fort Dodge, he agreed to find a reliable man to accompany us east across the prairie to Lawrence. In those days, no woman would dare make such a trip alone, with just a boy at her side.
That man was Luther Augustus Longley. Luther was a buffalo hunter and had spent the past year or so hunting and scouting for the army. The colonel told my mother that Luther had quit his position and wanted to get back to Lawrence, Kansas, where he had family. Luther’s activities before his work with the army were sketchy. I can’t recall what Luther looked like back then; but of course, during the next several years, I came to know him very well.
Luther was a black man—the first I had ever seen. And I can recall he scared me. He had a wild look to him. His hair was frizzled, and he had hard black eyes that looked like they had been dropped into two pools of milk. He had big, almost perfectly formed white teeth that he took good care of. He brushed them after every meal, as I recall. He was a big man—probably six feet five inches tall, and maybe 230 or 240 pounds. I had never seen anybody so big in my life. Like most men in those days, he was polite to all women and elders. He had arrived with his mother and his father in Kansas City in the 1840s, which in those days was known as Westport. They had moved west from Pennsylvania and were, in that part of the world in those days, rare free black folks in Missouri, a slave state.
In the 1850s, he and his folks moved to Lawrence, Kansas. Antislavery Jayhawkers from Kansas frequently fought with proslavery Bushwhackers from neighboring Missouri. The conflict grew in 1861 after war broke out and Kansas chose to become a free state. Lawrence, the headquarters of the Jayhawkers, was the scene of several bloody encounters, including Quantrill’s raid, in which about two hundred men and boys in Lawrence were shot down like dogs and some seventy-five business buildings and one hundred private homes were burned to the ground. Luther’s family managed to survive that raid because they were well outside of town to the west and Quantrill and his boys came from the east and then retreated to the southeast after they finished their butchery.
I can’t recall too much about our trip from Fort Dodge to Lawrence, but my mother often talked about it, so I know a little of what happened. I know there were some folks at Fort Dodge who thought it was mighty peculiar that a white woman and her boy would be accompanied on the lonesome trail east by a big black man. A few of the ladies tried to talk my mother out of going, telling her that to do so would most certainly lead to some horrible kind of violation of her person.
The captain would hear none of it. “Luther is a good man—why, I would trust him with my own wife and child,” he told my mother. “You needn’t worry about what any of those clucking hens say.”
 Years later, my mother told me the trip to Lawrence from Fort Dodge—a distance of almost three hundred miles—took about two weeks. Along the way, we linked up with a few other folks who were traveling east to Kansas City. One of those families was the Tilghmans, who were on their way to Atchison, Kansas, where they had a farm along the Missouri River.
Now I don’t recall anything about that trip, but it is notable to me because of the friendship my mother had with Mrs. Tilghman. When we got to Lawrence, the Tilghman’s stayed with our family before heading out for Atchison. It would be a friendship that would have a big impact on my life later on.
Lawrence, Kansas, in 1866 wasn’t much to look at. Sure, the town had been rebuilt and the new buildings were bigger and better than the ones Quantrill and his raiders had burned down. But the town still had a “wild, unsettled look about it,” my mother always said. Still, Lawrence was where she decided to put down roots.
One reason my mother put down roots was that up on a hill overlooking Lawrence, a single fifty-foot-square building housing what would eventually become the University of Kansas had been built in 1866. It wasn’t known then as the University of Kansas but as North College.
Lawrence lies in the Kaw Valley, bordered on the north and south by the Kansas (Kaw) and Wakarusa rivers and overlooked by Mount Oread, the hill on which the University of Kansas campus is built. Early settlers called the hill Hogback Ridge, but it was later renamed after the Oread Academy in Worcester, Massachusetts. The word Oread  comes from the Greek, meaning “mountain nymph.”
Lawrence is smack between the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails. The Oregon Trail ran through what is now the city and the University of Kansas campus, while the Santa Fe Trail ran just south of the city, along what are now county roads and farmland.
The streets were named after the states in the order they came into the Union, beginning with Delaware. Massachusetts Street was designated the main street because Lawrence’s founders were from Massachusetts. But any resemblance between Massachusetts and Kansas was purely imaginary, my mother used to say.
When we got to Lawrence, we settled in with our relatives. Eventually, my mother took up sewing and made women’s dresses for the local general store. Her dresses were popular with the ladies of  Lawrence—almost as popular as the store-bought dresses they could get in Kansas City, which was just about forty miles away.
My childhood years were pretty uneventful as things go. I didn’t get into much trouble, though I did cause my mother quite a bit of difficulty with a few pranks now and again. Along with a few friends, I tipped over some outhouses, stole apples from Mr. Bimbrick’s orchard, and got caught smoking cigars Bobby Kummel swiped from Filsinger’s tobacco shop. I was rightfully punished for those misadventures.
Nevertheless, by the time I was eleven or twelve, my mother was barely able to contain that little savage she was convinced was eating away at my soul. I guess I was pretty incorrigible, not having a father and all. My mother was no push over, but she also wasn’t a father who could take a son to the woodshed when events required it.
The closest person I had to a father was Luther. When I got out of hand, why, my mother would have me spend some time with him. He wouldn’t lecture me, but he would take me out into the countryside for a long day of hunting or fishing. During those times, he somehow managed to set me straight about my behavior and my responsibilities to my mother.
“You know what a hobbadehoy is, Billy?” Luther asked me one day while we were fishing. I had threatened to run off one day after an argument with my mother. I was probably fifteen at the time.
I shook my head.
“That’s a young man who has ceased to think of himself as a boy but is not yet regarded as a man. That’s what you are, a hobbadehoy. It’s a right hard time for a young man like yourself. Me, why, I am between hay and grass—that is somewhere between youth and old age. So you see, we are never anywhere for very long. We are always moving toward something. And that’s what you’re doing. Moving toward being a man. You ain’t there yet, but you want to be. And of course, most mothers are dreadful fearful of losing their young’uns. Your mother is specially dreadful because you are all she has. Can you understand that?”
I nodded. “I guess so. I wouldn’t shin out, but sometimes I feel my tether is too short.”
“You will lose that tether soon enough, and then someday when you are in a heap of hurt and trouble, you are going to reach for it and wish your mama was on the other end.”
Luther was right.
Luther taught me to shoot a rifle and a revolver. I especially looked forward to shooting Luther’s Big Fifty Sharps .50 caliber buffalo rifle. It had a powerful kick to it, and my shoulder would be pretty sore after firing a few rounds. But it was a fine piece of weaponry. Some hunters said you could hit a target at five miles, and Luther said you could fire it today and kill something tomorrow. Of course, both of those claims were just a load of prairie chips.
My mother wasn’t much pleased with my shooting lessons, but she relented because she knew Luther was shoving sense into my skull. She was hard-pressed to keep me in school. It was difficult for a boy like me to concentrate on school when every day I could see wagons moving west along the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails. I longed to join them, and there were a few occasions when I almost did. But then I thought about my mother and how it would hurt her, and I stuck it out. My mother was a stickler for school. She made sure I studied and learned my letters and numbers. But what she mostly did was read to me when I was very young. It taught me to appreciate literature and writing, and it activated my imagination quite a bit.
By 1877, I was almost seventeen, and I was eager to set out on my own. I planned to go to Fort Riley, Kansas, to join the Seventh Cavalry. It was just a year after George Armstrong Custer and his command had been wiped out at the Little Big Horn, and like a lot of young men at the time, I felt a strong need to avenge that slaughter. It wasn’t until I was much older and more experienced that I understood the deeper political and economic undercurrents of the so-called Indian Wars and the issues that led to what the world today calls Custer’s Last Stand.
Go to Fort Riley and join the cavalry? My mother wouldn’t hear of it. “You will do no such thing. You are going to get an education. I didn’t spend all those days and nights sewing dresses so you could turn out to be some coarse ruffian.”
I argued. I sulked. I threatened to run off. But that was that. I spent the next two years taking classes up on Hogback Ridge. I must admit, it was good for me. I learned some Latin, some algebra, some English literature, some German, some philosophy, a little history, and geography. But most of all, I learned that having an education back then in the west was a little like being the one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind. Those who could read and write and reason things out with logic had a leg up on just about 80 percent of those you ran into back then.
Then one spring day in 1879, after classes ended for the semester, I was called into the editor’s office of the Lawrence Union, where I had been employed part-time as a printer’s devil and sometimes as a reporter. The editor was a beefy, round-bodied man named Horace K. Hawes. A thick crop of shaggy white hair covered his head and spilled down over his ears. Fierce blue eyes peered at you from under graying russet eyebrows that resembled sheaves of wheat. The left side of his ruddy, pinched face was creased by a thread-like crimson scar, the result of a Confederate sniper’s bullet at Antietam.
“William, I have a proposition for you,” he said. Hawes sat behind a small wooden desk at the back of the two-room Union office. As usual, his white sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and secured with garters in an effort to keep them free of printer’s ink. He wore a dark brown vest and a blue bow tie around a high white collar. I looked at Hawes, not knowing what to expect. Was I being sacked? Hawes cleared his throat. “I have already discussed this with your mother, and she is in agreement, up to a point.”
He paused, and I was sure my mother had asked Hawes to sack me, fearing that I might waste my life as a no-account, deceitful scrivener, which was the way a lot of newspapermen were viewed in those days.
Hawes cleared his throat once again. “That is to say, she feels this opportunity would be beneficial for a lad like you. But there are some conditions.”
 I was fully confused now. What was he talking about?
 “Judging from your mute demeanor, I must assume your mother has not mentioned this to you, is that correct?”
I was still standing in front of Hawes’s desk, holding my hat and a book strap that held a volume of Shakespeare’s sonnets, an algebra book, and a digest of geographic maps.
“No, sir, she hasn’t,” I said.
“Well, my boy, sit down,” Hawes said. “We have some important things to discuss.”
It would be a discussion that would alter my life in ways I could never have imagined at the time.


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Meet the Author
Ron Yates
  

Ronald E. Yates

Ronald E. Yates is Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the College of Media at the University of Illinois. Yates was appointed Dean in August 2003 after heading the College of Media’s Department of Journalism. He joined the University of Illinois as Journalism Department Head in 1997 following a 27-year career with the Chicago Tribune as an award-winning foreign correspondent, senior writer and editor. He stepped down as Dean in September 2010 to concentrate on writing projects.


Journalism Career

While at the Chicago Tribune, Yates accumulated extensive international experience. He lived and worked 18 years as a foreign correspondent in Japan, Southeast Asia and Latin America where he covered several wars and revolutions from the 1970s into the 1990s, including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia in 1975, the Tiananmen Square tragedy in Beijing in 1989, and political upheavals in South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and The Philippines. He also covered wars and revolutions in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil and Colombia.
His work as a foreign correspondent resulted in four Pulitzer Prize nominations and several other awards. In 1990 he received a commendation from the Gerald Loeb Foundation for an in-depth series of stories entitled: "Vanishing Borders: Trade in the 1990s" and he has also won the Inter-American Press Association's Tom Wallace Award for coverage of Central and South America. His work as a foreign correspondent was rewarded by the Tribune with three Edward Scott Beck Awards and in 1993 Yates won the Peter Lisagor Award from the Professional Society of Journalists for excellence in business writing. Before joining the Tribune in 1970 Yates served with U.S. Military Intelligence in Germany as an intelligence analyst.


Author/Speaker

Prof. Yates recently published the first book in a trilogy of novels entitled Finding Billy Battles: An Account of Peril, Transgression and Redemption. Another book based on his experiences as a foreign correspondent in Asia from the early 1970s to the early 1990s is in the works. Its working title is The Last Rickshaw Home: A Foreign Correspondent’s Journey Through Asia.
He is author of The Kikkoman Chronicles: A Global Company with A Japanese Soul, published by McGraw-Hill. He is also the author of Aboard The Tokyo Express: A Foreign Correspondent's Journey Through Japan, a collection of columns translated into Japanese. Prof. Yates also wrote and published threew  text books for use in journalism classes: The Journalist's Handbook, International Reporting and Foreign Correspondents, and Business and Financial Reporting in a Global Economy.
Yates is a frequent speaker at seminars and symposiums dealing with such diverse topics as war correspondence, international affairs, relations between Asia and the United States and the critical topic of how American companies are competing globally. He has spoken at seminars sponsored by Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the U.S. Automotive Export Council, the International Trade Association, the World Trade Center, the Council on Competitiveness, the Competitiveness Policy Council and the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, to name a few.

Professional & Academic History

In addition to his work as a foreign and national correspondent, Yates spent 1982 to 1985 in the world of senior management as the Chicago Tribune's metropolitan editor and national editor—positions in which he supervised a staff of some 240 reporters and editors.
During his tenure at the University of Illinois, Yates held the Sleeman Professorship in Journalism. He also served as a board member of the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies; the advisory board of the European Union Center; and as a member of the Illini Media Board. Yates also has taught journalism, writing and international studies at California State University, Fullerton, Cal., Orange County California Community College and the Oakton Community College system in Chicago.
While in Japan Prof. Yates wrote the popular TOKYO EXPRESS column for Japan's Mainichi Daily News and was a columnist for the Japanese edition of Playboy Magazine. He is senior editorial adviser to the China Financial Weekly, published by the Financial Relations Board and writes frequently for several Asia-based publications.

Yates writes a blog entitled "ForeignCorrespondent" that can be found at: 

His Website and authors pages can be found at:



Yates is a native of Shawnee-Mission, Kansas. He is an honors graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. He lives in Murrieta, CA., and speaks several foreign languages, including German, Japanese, and Spanish.