Life and Times of Jeb Ratliff

Dakota Storm

Fiction - Western
184 Pages
Reviewed on 05/17/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Life and Times of Jeb Ratliff: Dakota Storm is a work of western style fiction penned by author Jimmy Crisp. Our titular hero Jeb is a man raised amongst the fire and trials of the bloodiest war in US history, the American Civil War. The Christian values he’s been given are put to the test during these trials as he fights for the South, despite knowing the abomination that is slavery. After the horrors, Jeb reaches Dakota Territory with the hopes of a fresh start in peace. Here, he discovers new cultures, but also new demons to battle, and old ones which may haunt him forever.

Author Jimmy Crisp has created a culturally intelligent western that’s highly readable in the modern age, dealing with the full gamut of human emotion as well as the tricky waters of war and race relations. Jeb Ratliff is a well-developed character whom readers can get to know right from his earliest childhood influences, into the formative parts of his life where he discovers love, his own sense of personal justice, politics, and learns a lot about himself in the process. Though there are plenty of excellent atmospheric moments of western-style cowboy action, the piece is serious and slower-paced at heart, making for immersive reading that draws its audience into the real history at play. Overall, Life and Times of Jeb Ratliff: Dakota Storm was an excellent read, part historical fiction, part western, which has a lot of poignancy for today among its engrossing, nostalgic plotlines.

Peggy Jo Wipf

Jimmy Crisp peels back time in Life and Times of Jeb Ratliff: Dakota Storm. As the Civil War ends, some men find they have no one to go home to and such is the case of Jeb Ratliff. Death and killing had taken its toll on this young man; freedom of space and people are what he craved as he traveled to the northern plains. As he slowly interacts with good people who remind him of his family, he creates friendships and ties again. Big John was like a grandfather to Jeb and introduced him to Lone Eagle and the Lakota Indians. When the army closes in on the Indians, Jeb cultivates an idea of how the Indians can live off the land without jeopardizing their lives. He is a bold man who lives by principles, but will he be able to save these people before the wave of fearful, prejudiced, and greedy people engulfs this great area?   
As Jimmy Crisp recounts Jeb Ratliff’s life in Dakota Storm, we anticipate the ending we know could happen. Those who enjoy post-Civil War fiction will understand the friction that still existed between the Yankees and the Confederates. As in this novel, while some just wanted the war to be over, others continued to feed off the victory of the win. Seeming as if they still hungered for the blood of others, they now looked to the Indians for another conquest. Life and Times of Jeb Ratliff will not disappoint as this likable young man makes an impact everywhere he goes. His confidence is offensive to some and reassuring to others. I felt I was stepping back in time as Jimmy Crisp gives specific descriptions of this era and the terrain. I finished this novel feeling as if I had traveled beside Jeb and was disappointed to leave his company. Highly recommended to post-Civil War fiction fans.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Life and Times of Jeb Ratliff: Dakota Storm by Jimmy Crisp is a story that transports you right back to the heart of the old West. Jeb Ratliff, a southern rebel, survived the bloodiest war in history. Raised with the strongest of beliefs, taught that slavery was wrong, Jeb fought for the South and, after the war, headed West with many other survivors. There they settled in Dakota Territory, hoping to get back to the real values in life and away from the cities that were springing up around them. Making friends with the Lakota tribe, Jeb learns their ways but, a man raised to stand up for what is right, he starts to see things go bad as white settlers move in and start an upheaval that can only end in tragedy. Jeb tries to help the natives learn new ways so that they can exist peacefully with the new settlers but they were here first – why should they change their lives? This is an epic tale of war, survival and true values.

Life and Times of Jeb Ratliff: Dakota Storm by Jimmy Crisp really was an epic tale. And it was one that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was like reading real memoirs from the time, a story told from the heart. When you open this book, you will be transported from the daily grind of your own life back in time to a place steeped in history, some of it bloody. It is an enthralling story, one that will capture you from the very start and hold onto you until the last page. The story flows naturally at a steady pace with plenty of tension to keep you hooked. The characters, in particular Jeb, were really well developed and, like me, you will form a bond with the main protagonist, a strong, unshakeable bond that allows you to follow his story in his own footsteps as if you were there with him. You will feel every emotion in this story and you won't want to put it down. Fantastic story, and I really enjoyed it.