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After starting out as a short story in the Missouri Review, this tale was expanded into the novel Woe to Live On, then made into a movie, by Ang Lee, as Ride With the Devil.  Just to add to the confusion, the book was then rereleased in a movie tie-in version as Ride with the Devil.  At any rate, it is a brisk, brutal, sometimes funny portrayal of a small band of Southern guerilla fighters, the First Kansas Irregulars, loosely associated with Quantrill (the Devil of the new title, as in "the Devil knows how to ride," a grudging compliment he was paid), as they carry out a series of increasingly bloody and senseless raids (including the Lawrence Massacre), killing men, women, children, and ultimately each other.

The narrator of the book is Jake Roedel, sixteen at its start, a young German orphan, often victimized by the surprising anti-German animus of his fellow bushwhackers.  Woodrell makes a fairly daring choice in having the boy commit a brutality quite early in the book, thereby establishing that there is nothing romantic or heroic about their War.  However, this also puts a considerable distance between the reader and the ostensible hero, making it hard to care too much about his eventual fate.

At least since Ken Burns's Civil War series there's been a tendency to look back at the War a little too fondly; and, of course, Southerners have been inclined to do so for much longer.  This book offers a much needed antidote to such silliness, reminding us of just how ugly and wasteful a thing it was, and of how surely any war degrades into hatreds and killing, no matter how "noble" the cause..


Grade: (B-)


See also:

Book-related and General Links:
    -EXCERPT : from Woe to Live On
    -REVIEW : of MUCHO MOJO By Joe R. Lansdale (Daniel Woodrell, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE LOST AND FOUND And Other Stories. By Anne Marsella (Daniel Woodrell, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of DANCING ON GLASS By Susan Taylor Chehak (Daniel Woodrell, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of DON'T THINK TWICE By Wayne Johnson (Daniel Woodrell, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of FAMILY NIGHT By Maria Flook (Daniel Woodrell, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (Daniel Woodrell, Washington Post Book World)
    -INTERVIEW : A Quick Chat with Daniel Woodrell (Liz Rowlinson, Richmond Review)
    -ESSAY: Daniel Woodrell reflects on how his small novel became a big movie (Ashley Fantz, Memphis Flyer)

    -INTERVIEW : NOVEL TREATMENT : Daniel Woodrell discusses his first book-turned-movie. (Andy Wang, Iron Minds)
    -INTERVIEW : A Quick Chat with Daniel Woodrell   (An author interview by Liz Rowlinson, Richmond Review)
    -ARCHIVES : "daniel woodrell" (Find articles)
    -ARCHIVES : woodrell (Salon)
    -REVIEW : of The Death of Sweet Mister By Daniel Woodrell (Mark Luce , SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW : of Death of Sweet Mister (Lawrence Block, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW : of The Death of Sweet Mister by Daniel Wodrell (Amy Graves, Boston Globe)
    -REVIEW : of TOMATO RED By Daniel Woodrell (1998) (Valerie Sayers, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Tomato Red (Jonathan Miles, Salon)
    -REVIEW : of Tomato Red (Chris Handyside, Detroit Metro Times)
    -REVIEW : of Tomato Red (Crime Time Online)
    -REVIEW : of Tomato Red (Charlie Dickinson, Savoy on Books)
    -REVIEW : of Tomato Red (Mark Luce, Book Page)
    -REVIEW : of Tomato Red (Barcelona Review)
    -REVIEW : of Tomato Red (David Marion Wilkinson, Austin Chronicle)
    -REVIEW : of Under the Bright Lights ( Michael Carlson, Crime Time Online)
    -REVIEW : of GIVE US A KISS A Country Noir. By Daniel Woodrell (1996) (Robert Houston, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Give Us a Kiss (Dr. David Breeden)
    -REVIEW : of Sweet Mister by Daniel Woodrell (MICHAEL ANDERSON, NY Times Book Review)

    -FILMOGRAPHY : daniel woodrell (
    -INFO : Ride with the Devil (1999) (
    -BUY IT : Ride With the Devil (1999) DVD (
    -REVIEW : of Ride With the Devil (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
    -REVIEW : of Ride With the Devil (STEPHEN HOLDEN, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of Ride With the Devil (Richard Coliss, TIME)
    -REVIEW : of Ride With the Devil (Stephen Hunter, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW : of Ride with the Devil (Andrew O'Hehir, Salon)
    -REVIEW : of Ride With the Devil (James Bowman, American Spectator)
    -REVIEW : of Ride with the Devil (American Historical Review)
    -REVIEW : of Ride With the Devil (James Berardinelli)
    -REVIEW : of Ride With the Devil  (Russell Smith, Austin Chronicle)
    -REVIEW : of Ride With the Devil  ( BRUCE KIRKLAND, Toronto Sun)
    -REVIEW : of Ride With the Devil  (Todd Mccarthy, Variety)
    -REVIEW : of Ride With the Devil  (Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW : of Ride With the Devil  (DVD Reviews)

    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA : Quantrill, William C.
    -The Home Page of the William Clarke Quantrill Society
    -PBS - THE WEST - William Clarke Quantrill
    -Wilson's Creek August 10, 1861 (Battlefield Vacations)
    -Lawrence Public Library : Local History
    -Kansas Territory: Crucible of American Experience
    -ESSAY : William Quantrill and the Lawrence Massacre
    -Quantrill's Flag (Kansas State Historical Society)
    -REVIEWS : of The Devil Knows How to Ride, by Edmond E. Leslie and Quantrill's War, by Duane Shultz (Civil War Times Illustrated)
    -REVIEW : of In Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short, Savage Life of a Civil War Guerrilla, Albert Castel and Thomas Goodrich (Civil War Times Illustrated)