James Robert Campbell
Publication Date: 04/01/2014
Two novellas, “I Am a Freight Train” and “The Fields Are Ripe for Harvest,” compose “The Byrds of Victory” — the stories of Preacher Byrd, who fights in the South Pacific during World War II and returns to his small Texas Panhandle hometown to work as a blacksmith-welder and to join black and Mexican-American leaders and start a farm workers’ union, which results in a great deal of intrigue and ends with a shoot-out; and Preacher’s son Benny, haunted by the tragedy of a drag racing accident while working with a wheat harvest crew in Texas, Colorado, Nebraska and Montana. “I Am a Freight Train” is the colorful Preacher Byrd’s first-person account of his life while “The Fields Are Ripe for Harvest” is told in the classic naturalistic style through only what the characters do, say and experience. The novel thereby powerfully imparts a sense of time and place that gives it a unique authenticity.