Praise for All God’s Children:
“Mr. Gwyn has couched his meanings within a swift and skillful western, which allows them to unfold with devastating power. [ . . . ] The very people who founded the American West, this bracing novel suggests, were those most desperate to be independent from it.”—Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
“Gwyn’s novel is a powerful depiction of the rough realities of frontier life, of the vicious influence of racism in a place where ‘men who didn’t dare look at you in daylight might burn you alive come sundown.’”—The New York Times
★ “Gwyn creates an overwhelmingly visceral and emotionally rich narrative amid Texas’s complex path to statehood [ . . . ] This is a masterpiece of western fiction in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy and James Carlos Blake.”—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“It’s always a pleasure to discover another superb writer who had not been on my radar [ . . . ] Gwyn writes fresh, vigorous sentences, and many scenes pulse with tension, tenderness or both.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Readers will relish these unforgettable characters and this expansive view of Texas’ wild ride to joining the Union.”—Booklist
“Gwyn knows how to tell a story—he builds suspense wonderfully [ . . . ] his excellent writing and gift for pacing make this an enjoyable historical novel.”—Kirkus Reviews
“In his new book, Aaron Gwyn gives us a vivid and piercing depiction of America when it was young and expanding, and of the myriad cruelties and lies that it was built upon. All God’s Children is a page-turner, a tour de force, and a brilliantly savage novel that you will be reckoning with long after you have put it down.”—Nick Arvin, author of Mad Boy and Articles of War
“Gwyn offers us an entertaining tale of misfits finding each other that is also an inspiring, hopeful exploration of an alternate vision of violence and masculinity.”—Lone Star Literary
“All God’s Children is an enthralling historical novel that presents a vision of the American West. Gwyn's prose is both raw and captivating, and what results is the moving story of the lives of Duncan, Sam, and Cecilia. I couldn't put it down.”—Brandon Hobson, National Book Award finalist and author of The Removed
“All God’s Children is a riveting work of historical vision. Once again, Gwyn has crafted a tale that is as tragic as it is gorgeous.”—Smith Henderson, PEN-Award winning author of Fourth of July Creek
Praise for Aaron Gwyn:
“Aaron Gwyn claims his place among the ranks of great American novelists with this richly drawn historical epic. A masterpiece.”—Philipp Meyer, author of The Son
“Mr. Gwyn depicts the eventful mission with tight dramatic control and a flair for suspenseful twists, and the same ambiguities that surround John Wayne's ruthlessly single-minded Ethan Edwards.”—The Wall Street Journal
“In Gwyn’s expert hands, nothing, including good or evil, is ever so simple.”—Caroline Leavitt, The Boston Globe
“The book’s pacing is cinematic, and it echoes adrenalized silver-screen war stories like “Three Kings” and “The Hurt Locker,” as well as the gentler cross-species concerns of “The Horse Whisperer.”—John Williams, The New York Times
“A work of narrative alchemy, a prose smelter brimming with horses, soldiers, heroism, villainy, horrific violence and unexpected tenderness. [ . . . ] If you find tear stains on your shoulders when you turn the last page, they are likely yours, shed out of the sadness that only comes when you wish there were pages left to turn.”—The Houston Chronicle
★ “Dog on the Cross is a gripping tale of men at war, and captures the essence of close combat—the terror, excitement, chaos, tension, and cruelty, as well as the harsh decisions men make under stress [ . . . ] its gritty realism is part of the strength.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Three lives intersect in 19th-century Texas in this sprawling adventure novel.
In 1827, young Duncan Lammons sets off from his home in Butler County, Kentucky, to stake out a new life in Texas, then part of Mexico. “It’s a peculiar sort of man who needs a fresh start by the age of twenty, but I was always peculiar,” he explains—in part because he’s gay, which has made him the subject of rumors in his county. He befriends another young man named Noah Smithwick along the way, and after a few years the two decide to join the nascent Texian Army to fight for the territory’s independence. Meanwhile, an enslaved Black woman named Cecelia is sold several times to different cruel masters, eventually ending up in Louisiana, where she’s stolen from the man who bought her and freed by Samuel Fisk, who fought alongside Duncan in Texas (and for whom Duncan nurses a significant crush). Gwyn switches points of view between Duncan and Cecelia as the two navigate pre–Civil War Texas, with Duncan remaining a soldier and Cecelia and Samuel raising a child, until a series of violent events threaten the safety of the couple and their son. Gwyn knows how to tell a story—he builds suspense wonderfully, and one long section that deals with Duncan and his fellow soldiers fighting in the 1846 Battle of Monterrey is some of the most thrilling prose readers are likely to encounter this year. But the book’s ending, set at the advent of the Civil War, seems tacked on and unnecessary, and while Gwyn treats Duncan’s homosexuality with real sensitivity, some readers might rankle at the plot involving Cecelia and Duncan, which veers toward White saviorism. Still, readers who enjoyed books like Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove(1985) will find much to admire here.
Gwyn’s book isn’t perfect, but his excellent writing and gift for pacing make this an enjoyable historical novel.