I don’t like armchair quarterbacks.
I am no Shelby Foote. I’ve never purported to be. He was an amazing writer who had an incredible talent for telling a story. What I am is a fellow who has had a passion for Jenkins’ Ferry and the other battles of the 1864 Camden Expedition.
Years after reading Ed Bearss’ book on Jenkins’ Ferry, I would occasionally see new material about the battle surface, so much so in fact that I decided to try my hand at writing an updated history of the battle.
The response to my book, “Harvest of Death,” has been overwhelmingly positive with over 2,000 copies of the book in circulation.
There have been many kind words written about “Harvest of Death.” Perhaps one that I am proudest of I recently came across that appeared in a central Arkansas Magazine, “Arkansas Life.” The magazine highlighted hidden gems to visit around our great state. Mentioning Jenkins’ Ferry Battlefield, the magazine had this to say:
“You’re sitting down for a picnic lunch and a swim at this 40-acre park, grateful that you remembered to read Harvest of Death: The Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry, Arkansas written by local history buff Joe Walker (his website, 1864arkansas.com, is a must read as well). Without it, you’d never have known about, say, the Confederate general and Union lieutenant who, years after the battle, found themselves sitting together in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
Of course along the way, I’ve encountered a person or two who took exception to something I had written or my style of writing, most notably that endless dribble about the names of the field names at Jenkins’ Ferry. One of the fellows who has made it his duty in life to uncover the “true” field names is also the same fellow who has had a lifelong passion to uncover the “true” events of the Kennedy assassination (could UFO’s not be too far off his radar?)
I’ve taken the few criticism with a grain of salt. After all, I don’t have to rely on my writings to put food on the table and I make it crystal clear to those who read my books that I am not a professional writer – just a fellow who has a passion for wanting to share the story of what happened in southern Arkansas 150 years ago.
What does pay the bills is my job as a 911 Dispatcher with the Little Rock Police Department, now in my 22nd year with the department. And you know what? I’m darn good at what I do. Take away the commendations and the awards I’ve received over the years and you will find a fellow who is passionate about saving lives. If you call 911 and you happen to get me, I’ll guarantee I will pluck you out of the jaws of disaster and send help roaring your way.
That’s what I do.
One of the armchair quarterbacks took “Harvest of Death” to task when it first came out, droning on about issues he took exception to.
Now it seems he’s back with a review of my newest book, “Hail & High Water: The Battle of Elkins’ Ferry, Arkansas.”
Are his cosmetic concerns about the book legitimate? Absolutely. However when he drones on about the writing style of the author, that’s another matter.
I have never said I was a professional writer. And while I certainly can appreciate his point of view that anyone who decides to write a book should publish one that is readable and does justice to the work, I believe some consideration should be made for those who choose to step up and honor the brave soldiers, Union and Confederate, who gave their lives for the cause they believed it.
So I’ve pulled the book.
If you’ve purchased the book and aren’t happy with it, email me and I’ll be more than happy to refund the purchase price.
There will be no “Hail & High Water.” I have removed it from Amazon’s website and no additional copies will be published.
Nor will there be any other books on the 1864 Camden Expedition. I will write no further books on that topic.
“Harvest of Death” will remain and will be read by generations to come. It’s a good book and one that I am immensely proud of.
I’ll continue to focus my efforts on my upcoming book, “Elvis in Arkansas,” a field guide to Elvis Presley’s many visits to Arkansas during his career. It’s already coming together as a fine book – one I am proud of. This one will be carefully edited prior to its release to insure it does justice to Elvis and his contribution to our state’s history.
I feel sorrow as I write this for the soldiers who fought and especially gave their lives at the Battle of Elkins’ Ferry, a battle that has received so little attention.
Perhaps my armchair quarterback friend can get off that couch now and write his own history of the Battle of Elkins’ Ferry.
And you can bet I hope he reads this blog.