Cover of Open Country

Jeff Richards

Author Jeff Richards, reading from Open Country at the book launch party

Open Country: A Civil War Novel in Stories

Jeff Richards
ISBN 978-0931181436, $14.95.

• Paycock Press author Jeff Richards and his wife Connie greeting readers and signing copies of Open Country at the 2015 Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver, CO, in June. Photo by Donna Baier Stein of Tiferet Journal.

• Author Jeff Richards has been interviewed on WGVU News:

• Here's what's being said about this important new work:

“Epic and intimate in equal measure, Jeff Richards’ linked stories deftly illuminate the ties that bound ordinary folk together—kin to kin, solider to soldier, men to women, and, yes, North to South—all the while never flinching from the cold reality of the conflict. Sweet as the sound of a bugle at sunset and sharp as the point of a fixed bayonet, Open Country is a unique, bighearted tale of the Civil War, a bracing narrative pleasure.” —Scott W. Berg, 38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier's End

“Jeff Richards draws on the moments of intimate happenstance that so marked this peculiar war, in which whole histories shifted in quiet entanglements in thickets and creek beds, and a single line of a banjo tune might speak simultaneously of a loved one both arriving and departing.” —Steve Amick, Nothing But a Smile

“It would be tempting to discuss Open Country purely in terms of it being a Civil War novel. But to substitute the setting for the ideas and the emotional truths would not do justice to Jeff Richards’ book. That would be too easy. Instead, Open Country strips the circumstances of the war down to its most human level. It is about people trying to make sense of a world suddenly turned inside out. It is about having to make choices in which all decisions may be wrong. It is a place and time where loyalty and trust no longer follow convention. And, most of all, the novel is about the need to find hope when it’s hard to believe hope can still exist. Yes, Jeff Richards’ Open Country may take place during the Civil War, but at its heart the novel shares the drama of human experience as though it is taking place right outside your door. It could be you. It could be me.” —Adam Braver, Mr. Lincoln’s Wars

“In the tradition of Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Jeff Richards’ Open Country is a powerful, brutal, beautiful book of stories linked by war and the soldiers struggling to survive amidst its horrors. We follow Blues and Grays, wives and widows, worried mothers and grieving fathers, the doomed and the redeemed, the victorious and the condemned. This extraordinary book about the American Civil War offers both the concision of the well-made story and the sweep of the epic. A remarkable achievement.” —Porter Shreve, The End of the Book

“The true value of a good novel, especially one written in another place and time, is whether or not it makes you believe you are there. As in great dramatic acting in film or theatre, do you empathize with the characters and are they authentic? Jeff Richards accomplishes that in his short, but epic novel, Open Country. Artfully written and musical in its cadence, I could hear the soundtrack as I read. Stark and tragic and as rustic as the hardtack and whiskey in its story, Open Country is a must read, lest we forget.” —Jimmy Thackery of Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers, Wide Open (CD)

“The Civil War was America’s bitterest family quarrel, and Jeff Richards’s stories gracefully place the huge events of the war into human context. Anyone who loves the American story will treasure these stories as well.” —Garrett Epps, The Shad Treatment

“Open Country is a meticulously researched novel about the Civil War and its harrowing effects on families. Here are nineteen stories of Rebel ‘butternuts’ and Yankee ‘bluebellies’ who, despite being on opposing sides of battle, are also cousins, fathers and sons, brothers. Jeff Richards has written a moving meditation on the ways we can be made to ignore the humanity of those we see as enemies. As one character says, ‘Sad thing when two old comrades come to blows.’

“The moral complexities of duty to a cause versus family ties are vividly revealed thanks to the book’s authentic recreation of language, weaponry, dress, food, and mores of the time. Any Civil War buff will find this a fascinating read.” —Donna Baier Stein, author of Sympathetic People

“With unflinching honesty, Jeff Richards leads us through the horror and fervor of the Civil War, giving us both Confederate and Yankee perspectives. We join ranks with young soldiers and their loved ones as they experience the stunned sorrow of loss, the loyalty of friendship, and the gentle grasp of love. Richards lulls yet agitates the heart as the war shapes each character.” — Melanie S. Hatter, author of The Color of My Soul


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