Character Interview: Molly Goodnight of PALO DURO by Max Knight

BNR Palo Duro JPG.jpg
  Genre: Historical Fiction / Western
Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.
Date of Publication: September 2, 2017
Number of Pages: 226
Scroll down for the giveaway!

Westward expansion following the civil war ushered in an era of increased conflict between the Southern Plains Indians and white settlers. Peace treaties offered temporary suspension of hostilities, but more often than not resulted in broken promises as the two cultures clashed over land. The construction of frontier forts and towns, the decimation of the buffalo herds, the movement of cattle through Indian lands to burgeoning western markets, – all of these forces threatened a way of life that had existed for centuries.
The Comanche, the Southern Cheyenne, the Kiowa, the Apache all fought to protect their customs and homelands. The clashes were characterized by savagery on both sides – Indian and white. However, finite numbers and options would ensure the tribes’ defeat; they faced certain death or forced relocation and their days were numbered.
Though the Indian wars are the focus of Palo Duro, the novel also captures the spirit of the “Old West” with its depiction of the great cattle drives from Texas into Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Montana, the cattle barons and the trail blazers, the outlaws and gunslingers, the lawmen and Texas Rangers, and the settlers and entrepreneurs who built this country. It chronicles an era characterized by heroism, brutality, and bold ventures while paying tribute to a genre that is fading from public consciousness – the western. It is the story of the Southwest United States towards the end of the nineteenth century and the rugged individualism that forged a nation.
This book captured Central Texas in the post-Civil War era better than any other book I’ve read. It was well researched, well written, and easy to read. I enjoyed this book more than Empire of the Summer Moon, the standard setter. I recommend this to readers of any level, even if you dislike history, as this book is that good. 
– Jeffrey R. Murray, Amazon review
Max Knight brought to life the saga of how Texas tamed their frontier. He presents a colorful experience with characters effectively placed throughout his story. If you have any interest in Texas history this book is a must read. – AmazonJacki, Amazon review

Palo Duro is an exceptional novel, well researched; a must read. 
– Chuck B., Amazon review

Reading this book is a great way to deepen and appreciate one’s Texas roots – or if you are not a Texan to understand and enjoy what makes Texas, well, Texas! I found this novel to be especially entertaining as well as informative. Made me want to go back and read Lonesome Dove again! – Michael P., Amazon review

In the spirit of the old Western genre of Zane Grey and L’amour, Max Knight pays homage to our national heritage with this fictional but historically accurate labor of love that warms the heart with his vivid imagery and authentic tone of America’s illustrious and sometimes brutal past. – Chester Sosinski, Amazon review

Interview with Mary Ann (Molly) Goodnight

A Character in Palo Duro
By Max Knight

You have been credited with saving the buffalo on the Southern Plains. Can you tell me why you got involved in this effort?

When my husband Charles and I first moved to West Texas, the annual migration of the buffalo herds extended across the plains as far as the eye could see. The buffalo numbered in the millions and their movement caused huge dust clouds to form that looked like an advancing storm. The earth shook, and the sound resembled thunder. It was both frightening and exhilarating, but in less than a decade their numbers were reduced to less than five-hundred.

How did such a drastic reduction occur in so short a time?

For a time, the buffalo hides became fashionable back east and in Europe. A great many animals were killed simply because of human vanity. However, even after the fad ran its course, our government encouraged the buffalo hunters to continue slaughtering the buffalo to deprive Native Americans of their primary source of food and shelter. It was a strategy designed to end the Indians’ nomadic lifestyle and force them onto the reservations.

Didn’t your husband attempt to cross-breed the remaining buffalo with cattle?

Charles was a cattleman whose business was to provide meat to northern and eastern markets. Both his Longhorn cattle and the buffalo had proven that they could survive the harsh environmental conditions that exist in the plains… extreme heat and cold, the lack of water and forage, and winds that chafe both man and beast. He thought by mating the species, he could create an even more resilient breed. He called them “cattalo.” The experiment didn’t work.

So, how did you manage to save and ultimately increase the buffalo population?

I asked my husband to bring in the calves so I could nurture and raise them.

Why the focus on the just the calves?

In many cases, the mother had been killed by hunters leaving the calf to either starve or become prey to other predatory animals. The calves would remain by the dead carcass of their mothers and their cries could be heard for miles. They were babies in need of love and caring, and I thought someone had to come to their aid.

Did your efforts succeed right away?

No. The calves had to be hand fed by bottle at first, and many simply couldn’t or wouldn’t make the transition. A large number died. However, I kept trying and in time some of them survived, mated, and produced offspring. Those offspring multiplied and today, though nowhere near the numbers that once existed, they are again roaming free in some of our state and national parks, giving new generations the opportunity to see them in their natural habitat.

Do you feel a sense of accomplishment or pride?

Absolutely. For me, the buffalo are representative of a bygone era. They are living history.

Max L. Knight was born in Panama in 1949, and was raised both in the Canal Zone and in San Antonio, Texas where he now resides with his wife, Janet “Gray.” A proud member of the Corps of Cadets and graduate of Texas A&M University (Class of ’73), he received a bachelor’s degree in English and a Regular Army commission and served the next twenty-four years as an Air Defense and Foreign Area Officer before retiring in 1997 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After leaving the Army, Max spent the next five years working for RCI Technologies of San Antonio, becoming its Director of Internal Operations. Separating from the company in 2002, he volunteered to be the first docent at the Alamo working within its Education Department before once again serving his country as a Counterintelligence Specialist in Europe, Central America, Asia and the Middle East through 2013. Max speaks several languages including Greek and Spanish. He also holds a Master of Science degree in government from Campbell University. He has written and published two books to date: Silver Taps, a personal memoir of his relationship with his father and a tribute to his alma mater, and Palo Duro, a novel focusing on the Indian wars in the southwestern United States at the end of the nineteenth century.


One Winner: Signed copy of Palo Duro + $20 Amazon Gift Card
Two Winners: Signed Copies of Palo Duro
JANUARY 10-19, 2018
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Character Interview
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Author Interview
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