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"The year was 1873 and all about was the evidence of boom and bust, shattered dreams, foolish ambition, depredation, shame, greed, and cruelty . . ."

Onto this broken Western stage rides Michael Coughlin, a Civil War veteran with an enigmatic past, come to town to settle his dead brother's debt. Together with his widowed sister-in-law, Elizabeth, bankrupted by her husband's folly and death, they embark on a massive, and hugely dangerous, buffalo hunt. Elizabeth hopes to salvage something of her former life and the lives of the hired men and their families who now depend on her; the buffalo hunt that her husband had planned, she now realizes, was his last hope for saving the land.

Elizabeth and Michael plunge south across the aptly named "dead line" demarcating Indian Territory from their home state of Kansas. Nothing could have prepared them for the dangers: rattlesnakes, rabies, wildfire, lightning strikes, blue northers, flash floods - and human treachery. With the Comanche in winter quarters, Elizabeth and Michael are on borrowed time, and the cruel work of harvesting the buffalo is unraveling their souls.

Bracing, direct, and quintessentially American, Olmstead's gripping narrative follows that infamous hunt, which drove the buffalo to near extinction. Savage Country is the story of a moment in our history in which mass destruction of an animal population was seen as a road to economic salvation. But it's also the intimate story of how that hunt changed Michael and Elizabeth forever.

About the Author

Robert Olmstead

Robert Olmstead (born January 3, 1954) is an award-winning American novelist and educator. Olmstead was born in 1954 in Westmoreland, New Hampshire. He grew up on a farm. After high school, he enrolled at Davidson College with a football scholarship, but left school after three semesters in which he compiled a poor academic record. He later attended Syracuse University, where he studied with Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff and received both bachelor's and master's degrees, in 1977 and 1983, respectively. He is currently the Director of Creative Writing at Ohio Wesleyan University. He has also served as the Senior Writer in Residence at Dickinson College and as the director of creative writing at Boise State University. Olmstead teaches in the Low-Residency MFA program in creative writing at Converse College .Olmstead is the author of the novels America by Land, A Trail of Heart's Blood Wherever We Go and Soft Water. He is also the author of a memoir Stay Here With Me, as well as River Dogs, a collection of short stories, and the textbook Elements of the Writing Craft. [2] He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1989 and an NEA Literature Fellowship in 1993. His novel Coal Black Horse (2007) has received national acclaim, including the 2007 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction[7] and the 2008 Ohioana Book Award for Fiction; it was also selected for the "On the Same Page Cincinnati" reading program and the Choose to Read Ohio's 2011 booklist. Booklist has named his latest novel Far Bright Star (2009) (the second book in the Coal Black Horse trilogy) as one of the Top Ten Westerns of the Decade; the book also received the 2010 Western Writers of America Spur Award. One reviewer praised Olmstead's ability to "translate nature's revelatory beauty into words", commenting that Coal Black Horse evokes what Henry David Thoreau described in Walden as "the indescribable innocence and beneficence of Nature"; by contrast, the Mexican desert of Far Bright Star is "the place of the sun shriveled and the dried up". The Chicago Tribune review praised the authenticity of the imagery and experiences in Olmstead's writing, while also comparing his writing to that of Ernest Hemingway. It noted the influence of contemporary events, such as the guerrila warfare during the U.S. occupation of Fallujah during the Iraq War.

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