Lazy Woman’s History

My favorite way of consuming history is through novels. Yeah, it’s the lazy readers way. I do read non-fiction, too, but it’s so much more fun to have a cast of well-drawn characters move through the landscape with some well-researched historical era. (This is what I’ve done in Crimson Sky, my novel about the Conquistadors marching into the land of the pueblos.) David L. Robbins is a master at this. I’ve read four of his books so far and am now an enthusiast.

The War of the Rats is set in Stalingrad as the Nazi forces have the Russians under siege. Robbins focuses on a sniper brigade with one particularly effective leader who had been a hunter in his native Siberia and is a natural at sniping. He’s so lionized by the Party, hungry for heroes, that Hitler sends his own expert sniper to duel it out with our hero. So there’s that story, and then I learned all this history about Stalingrad at the same time. Robbins includes an afterword that discusses the actual events from which he derived his story.

I just finished The Betrayal Game about the days leading up to the Bay of Pigs invasion. I lived through that era, but I was a teenager and didn’t pay much attention. In Robbins’ account, we have a CIA agent, a professor (a recurring character), a sniper, Fidel himself, and various Cuban revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries. It doesn’t matter at bit that we know Fidel is not going to be assassinated in 1961 – it’s still a page turner.  And I now know a lot more about those days than I did before.

If you like historical novels, look up David L. Robbins. He is definitely what my husband would call a “man’s writer,” but as you can see, I like him too. He’s way good.


About glcraig

Gretchen Craig’s lush, sweeping tales deliver edgy, compelling characters who test the boundaries of integrity, strength, and love. Told with sensitivity, the novels realistically portray the raw suffering of people in times of great upheaval. Gretchen was born and raised in Florida. She’s lived in climates and terrain as diverse as the white beaches of the Gulf Coast, the rocky shores of Maine, and the dusty plains of Texas. Her awareness of place imbues every page with the smell of the bayous of Louisiana, the taste of gumbo in New Orleans, or the grit of a desert storm. Rich in compelling characters and historical detail, Always and Forever is a sweeping saga of Josie and Cleo, mistress and slave. Amid Cajuns and Creoles, the bonds between these two remarkable women are tested by prejudice, tragedy, and passion for one extraordinary man. Gretchen’s first novel won the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence for Mainstream with Romantic Elements and was chosen as an Editor’s Pick in the Historical Novel Society reviews. Ever My Love, winner of the Booksellers Best Award from the Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America, continues the story of Cleo and Josie’s families, of their struggle for principle, justice, and love in a world where the underpinnings of the plantation culture are crumbling. Crimson Sky, inspired by the pueblos, mountains, and deserts of New Mexico, evokes the lives of people facing neighboring marauders and drought. Now the march of Spanish Conquistadors up the Rio Grande threatens their homeland, their culture, and their entire belief system.
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