“Maness works a great deal of fascinating history into his narrative, and the personalities he fills the plots with – not just the Dugans and the Hawkins but dozens of other immigrants and guerrillas and partisans of every possible stripe – are conveyed very vividly through excellent dialog. It totally captivated me; I strongly recommend it.”
Select Reviews from Amazon
“Gripping, Beautiful Novel”
Once I started reading, I couldn’t put this book down. Not only is it one of those beautifully written books where the writing itself is worth the read, but the story rips. And grips. The settling of Kansas comes alive with rich, colorful, hilarious, deep characters that are constantly in conflict with each other while they try to carve out their own lives and fortunes in this wild new land. Irishmen, Yankees, Southerners, Missourians, a mysterious old Frenchman who could be Father Time himself (or some sort of supernatural being), and a giant, mythical bird whose occasional presence seems to tip the story in a dark direction each time it appears. The river itself seems to be a character throughout the story, a strong metaphor for the constant, unstoppable, inevitable flow of things.The story is also rich because, while much of the plot revolves around those with either pro-slavery or anti-slavery sentiments, there’s much more at play with people’s beliefs and motives. It’s nuanced. It’s complicated. Nothing is simple. And that’s what creates the richness, which bubbles on the surface of every page. My mind constantly wandered and wondered, “What the hell would I do if I were there?” It all seems like madness, and it makes me grateful to live when and where I do. Yet the human struggle is oh so familiar. It binds us all across time.
I love this book. It’s gorgeous.
“Gritty, Lyrical, and Real”
This assured debut novel by Jack Maness illuminates the volatile history of Bleeding Kansas, a territory being torn apart by the debate over slavery. “Song of the Jayhawk” begins with a man about to be hanged. From there, the novel takes us to places both mythic and real. A river changes course. Neighbors fight against neighbors. Men and women are caught up in the nation’s conflict, and the mysterious jayhawk urges them forward into war. Touched by magic realism and informed by an historian’s perspective, “Song of the Jayhawk” is gritty, lyrical, and real.
“Unknown Part of the Civil War”
“Beautifully crafted historical novel – my favorite thing to read, and with a touch of magical realism – what could be better.”
“You won’t forget this book!”
Great book! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wanted to read more after each chapter. Great character development. I was able to relate to many of them. The historical aspect was well researched and with the small incorporation of magical realism, this book was a home run.
Every American should read this.”