Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Novels that are based on historical people, events and places.

The Lion at Bay

In this sequel to The Rising, novelist Robert Wisehart returns to the incredible life of American statesman Sam Houston. In his two other Houston books,  Wisehart explored the fantastic adventures of a young white man who lived among the Cherokee yet became the close protégée of Andrew Jackson, the president who earned that tribe’s hatred. Known as a soldier, brawler, and prodigious drinker, Houston also became an orator and politician, rising to the governorship of Tennessee before personal scandal drove him from office. Then, as if in a second lifetime, leading the ragtag troops that improbably wrested Texas away from Mexican rule. The Lion at Bay finds an older, wiser, yet still-flamboyant Houston in the years after his presidency of the short-lived independent Republic of Texas. Happily married (to this third wife), with abookcover-TheLionAtBay-sm brood of rambunctious children, Houston tries to balance his newfound love of domesticity with his undiminished political ambitions. As a U.S. senator from the newly admitted state, Houston must repeatedly leave young wife Margaret and the family for the muddy streets of a raw, young Washington, D.C. He rubs shoulders with the likes of James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Winfield Scott, Stephen Douglas, Henry Clay, the cantankerous John C. Calhoun, and the upright Robert E. Lee as he struggles and schemes to prevent the coming war that he knows will devastate his native South. Houston—a slave owner uncomfortable with the institution of slavery—alienates old friends and political allies as he valiantly seeks to keep his beloved Texas out of the conflict. Once again, Wisehart enriches history with psychological insight and a novelist’s gift for rich, detailed storytelling. The Lion at Bay is a gripping story of a crafty leader who often broke rules but who could not abandon his deeply held principles.

Born for the Storm: A Sam Houston Novel

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Sam Houston, namesake of a great city, was among the most contradictory characters in American history. A war hero, statesman, maker of marathon speeches, prodigious drinker, brawler, and leader of the Texas revolution, he was also a peacemaker and diplomat. He served as governor of two different U.S. states and as president of the independent Republic of Texas. His two contrasting father figures were a Cherokee chief, who adopted the runaway teen Houston, and U.S. President Andrew Jackson, who later tasked Lieutenant Houston with moving Cherokee off of cherished ancestral lands in the Southeast. In Born for the Storm, novelist Robert Wisehart tells Houston’s story not as an arid history lesson, but as a grand, coursing adventure of the early 19th century. Wisehart puts the reader amid the swirling currents of the times and takes us into the thoughts of his compelling protagonist—a creation that hews closely to the facts surrounding the historical Houston yet possesses all the dimensions of a first-rate fictional hero whose faults sometimes overwhelm his considerable virtues. The novel follows Houston from his Tennessee frontier upbringing to his time among the Cherokee, his muddle-headed bravery at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, his first exposure to national politics in a raw young Washington, his tumultuous term as Tennessee governor and beyond. Along the way, the novel introduces us to a surprisingly tenderhearted Jackson, President James Monroe, the rock-ribbed statesman John C. Calhoun, future presidents James K. Polk and James Buchanan, and the poet-lawyer Francis Scott Key, among many other historical characters. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Born for the Storm is that Sam Houston’s life was so full of drama and adventure before he ever set foot in Texas. Readers of this book will be eager for Wisehart’s Houston sequel, The Rising..

The Rising: A Sam Houston Historical Novel

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Sam Houston, one of the most mercurial and contradictory characters in U.S. history, was a statesman, orator, drinker, brawler, and so much more. In The Rising, Robert Wisehart picks up where he left off in his brilliant historical novel Born for the Storm, about the triumphs and tragedies of Houston’s early career as a headstrong soldier and protean politician. This exciting sequel finds Houston—the former U.S. senator and failed governor of Tennessee—in revolutionary Texas, where he has been appointed general of the newly proclaimed republic’s revolutionary army. Vividly evoking the hardships and dangers of that muddy frontier struggle, Wisehart brings to life the cool-headed commander’s inspired balancing act as he keeps his badly overmatched army—ill-supplied, untrained, and on the verge of outright mutiny—out of harm’s way while he plots his one, desperate chance to prevail against the arrogant Mexican dictator Santa Ana. As in Born for the Storm, novelist Wisehart narrates Houston’s story not as a musty history lesson, but as a rip-roaring adventure. The reader hears the echoing hoofbeats and the crack of flintlock and percussion-cap rifle fire that punctuate swirling political and cultural currents of an 1830s Texas inhabited by English-speaking Texians  and Spanish-speaking Tejanos, delicately allied in their rebellion against Santa Ana’s overbearing Mexican government, and also by a colorful assortment of fortune-seekers from the Carolinas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Ireland, and England, all of whom find their futures suddenly dependent on the perilous struggle for Texas independence. Readers who enjoyed Born for the Storm will find this book a more-than-worthy continuation of the story, and an essential transition to The Lion at Bay, the final installment in Wisehart’s Sam Houston trilogy.


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