Tag Archives: ranches

Book Review: Song of Eagles by William W. Johnstone

Song of Eagles, by William W. Johnstone, is a Western that focuses on the fictional Falcon MacCallister. The book begins with Falcon moseying along looking for work. He is not hard up for money; he just wants to have a little job to keep him busy. His children are back East in school and he has nothing much to do at the moment (his wife is dead).

Falcon goes to visit his father’s friend, John Chisum. Chisum’s ranch is not far from the little town of Lincoln, situated in the New Mexico Territory. If you know your Old West history, readers, then you have some idea of what is coming next.

While at Chisum’s place, Falcon witnesses a youth named Billy Bonney arrive. Like Falcon, Bonney is also looking for work, but he hopes to get a job at a ranch. Chisum has no place for him, but directs the lad to his friend John Tunstall, whose spread is not far away.

At the same time, Chisum directs Falcon to nearby Fort Sumner. He does this because Falcon enjoys playing poker – a game most believe is won by luck but which MacCallister wins by his skill at reading his opponents. On entering the town, Falcon finds the local saloon and asks the owner to let him have a share in the place. The older man agrees to the bargain and, while he goes to visit some family for a few months, Falcon runs the business.

Not long after Falcon and Bonney settle in, Tunstall is murdered and the Lincoln County War erupts. Falcon maintains his friendship with Billy throughout the conflict. He is also never caught when he surreptitiously aids the persecuted cattlemen, especially John Chisum, during the “war.” Throughout the book he keeps the saloon going and aids Billy the Kid/Billy Bonney with advice and/or a place to stay every once in a while.

Song of Eagles is a great story. To start children off with a love of Western fiction, this book may not be the best. But Johnstone’s story is historically accurate and a fun read, and it has an interesting twist or two at the end. You can while away a few afternoons reading it.

Well, partners, time for me to ride off. I will see you around!

Later,

The Mithril Guardian

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This God-Forsaken Land

This “God-forsaken land,” they call it,

As they gaze with pitying eye,

“Nothing here but sand and sagebrush,

And a vast expanse of sky.”

“We don’t know how you stand it,”

These city folks declare,

“How do you make a living –

Or do you live on air?”

We could tell them of our ranches,

Where the great herds of cattle roam,

Or of the flocks of woolies

That claim Wyoming for their home.

We could show them our oil wells,

That pour forth liquid gold,

And in these places they call “barren,”

There’s deep, rich veins of coal.

They may not see our fertile valleys,

With their fields of hay and grain,

But nestling there among the hills,

We have them – just the same.

This “loneliness” they talk about,

To us is God’s own peace.

There’s so much beauty all around,

Our thanks shall never cease.

Our streams are full of rainbow trout,

We’ve antelope and elk and deer,

We’re a mile up nearer Heaven,

And the air is pure and clear.

Our sunsets glow with color,

And in the pearly dawn of morn

The pungent scent sage drifts down

On a breeze that’s mountain-born.

If they only lived here for a while

Those folks would understand

Why we only smile at them

About this “God-forsaken Land.”

We don’t know much of city life

Or where they seek God there,

But we do know in Wyoming

That we find Him everywhere.

So we’ll leave them the cities

Where the living is so grand.

And we’ll stay in Wyoming

In our God-Beloved Land.

– Juanita M. Leach