Mr. Meeks

His Life & Times 1812-1867

Fiction - Historical - Personage
212 Pages
Reviewed on 10/30/2015
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Melinda Hills for Readers' Favorite

Damian Hopkins, a young San Francisco newspaper reporter, undertakes an assignment that will change his life and outlook on other people in Mr. Meeks: His Life & Times 1812-1867 by David S. Larson. Hired by a wealthy benefactor to interview William Meeks, Hopkins is at first put off by the idea of dealing with a 'Mountain Man' whom he assumes will be crass and unpleasant. As Meeks, suffering the effects of consumption, recounts the story of his life, Hopkins comes to develop a deep and abiding respect for and friendship with the man who has endured so much heartbreak but retains a humble and positive outlook on life. Meeks has traveled from his birthplace in Lake Champlain, New York to the settlement of St. Augustine, Florida, the wilds of Mississippi, and further west to Oregon and California. His story intertwines with that of the Jennings family who were waylaid by bandits on their journey west and their connection is one of importance to all concerned. As Meeks becomes more and more disabled by his disease, his only concern is to reach his final resting place in peace. Will he live to complete his tale or will the depth of his sorrows be too much for Mr. Meeks to overcome?

David S. Larson has written a gripping narrative in interview format that provides a unique look at the men and women who pioneered the westward expansion. Mr. Meeks: His Life & Times 1812-1867 not only offers a wonderful historical overview of some of the most significant factors that shaped the developing nation but also a poignant personal look at a man of deep convictions and courage. This is an excellent book for both reasons and should certainly interest any reader in pursuing West, the novel about the Jennings family that inspired the telling of Mr. Meeks' life story.

Lit Amri

It’s the summer of 1867. Damian Hopkins, a 20-year-old reporter from the Daily Examiner in San Francisco, has been paid to interview Mr. William Meeks, and he already has a low opinion of the man. “He appears to be much like many of these rugged mountain men - heavy beard, weathered skin, untamed hair, and forever a rifle or knife at the ready. Such weapons are unneeded in these times. We live in an ordered world now, the great Civil War behind us, and an assassinated president two years past. And in all regards, we are in no further need of assistance from his kind.”

Of course, the young man is proven wrong. He becomes enamored with Meeks’ story, as did I, the reader. David S. Larson’s Mr. Meeks (His Life & Times 1812-1867) is a fascinating historical fiction through the eyes, interview and journal entries of Hopkins. Mr. Meeks was a hunter, soldier, husband, father, and explorer. His life story was a journey filled with joy and hardships. As Meeks’ story unfolds, his health declines further, and Hopkins finds it hard to accept that the man won’t last long.

Larson pours all his inventiveness and endeavor into creating a captivating tale and enhances it with a realistic element that gives so much more depth and perspective to the narrative and characters. Mr. Meeks revels in the telling that takes readers on a journey through the past. After I finished it, I was compelled to return to it again for the second time. Simply put, this is a remarkable read.

Stephen Fisher

Mr. Meeks by David C. Larson is a well written and moving story about the life and times of William Meeks, from his humble beginnings growing up on the New York side of Lake Champlain to joining the new army. Because of Mr. Meeks' familiarity with native Indian customs, he becomes an interpreter during the relocation of many tribes. When the Indians are seriously mistreated, which later became known as the "Trail of Tears," he abandons the army and takes part in many events of historical significance. He acted as a guide to many crossing the Oregon trail, with the help of his half breed son, Waiting Hawk, and friend Kit Carson. When a prominent citizen hires William Meeks to find his family that became separated during the move west, the integrity of our hero to finish the job is unsurpassed.

Mr. Larson does an amazing job of telling the story that a young reporter named Damian Hopkins had written down in his memoirs of the interviews with an ailing Mr. Meeks in 1867. It started out as just a job to write William's life story, who initially appeared to Mr. Hopkins as just another mountain man. As Damian recorded his interviews with William, his opinion of the man became more profound. By the time the interviews were over, William Meeks gave his last will and testament to the young reporter. David Larson was able to add some life to the unreadable parts of the fragile pages that are almost 150 years old. Mr. Meeks is one of the most moving stories I have ever read. Thank you, David, for resurrecting this diamond in the rough.

K.C. Finn

Mr. Meeks is a book penned by author David S Larson, centering on the historical character of the title. Derived from notes, journal entries and other ‘found’ sources, the story focuses on William Meeks, who was a small character in Larson’s other work, West: Journey Across The Plains. Now given his very own full length companion work, readers are ready to discover the extraordinary life of this free spirited soldier, from his birth in 1812 to the current date, summer 1867. It is here that interviewer Damian Hopkins meets Meeks, with somewhat low expectations, yet discovers the incredible truth about his contribution to the formation of the modern United States.

Having read work by David S Larson before, I was certain that the quality of Mr. Meeks would be superb, and indeed it was. The writing style smacks of authenticity for the mid-nineteenth century from the start, involving readers in the authentic voices of the characters as they leap off the page from their diary entries, messages and notes. Hopkins and his fussy contempt for the ‘mountain man’ style of Meeks’ appearance was highly amusing, and it was interesting to see the journalist grow and change as his opinion is influenced by his time with our central hero. Meeks himself is presented as reserved and highly eloquent despite his array of adventuring skills, evoking a delightfully deep character who is well worth exploring as the story continues. Mr. Meeks: His Life and Times 1812 – 1867 is an accomplished work sure to please all historical fiction fans.

Tracy Slowiak

Author David S. Larson has done it again! In an absolutely fantastic companion story to his previous work, West: Journey Across the Plains, the author has provided his readers with Mr. Meeks: His Life & Times 1812-1867. Taking place in the United States during the ‘Wild West’ era, the story follows reporter Damien Hopkins as he tries to get the scoop on Mr. William Meeks, a loner of a mountain man who has definitely had a past. With a history as a soldier, adventure seeker, explorer and hunter, Meeks certainly has much to tell, but the quiet man also has much to keep to himself. Damien begins to sense that there is much more to Meeks’ story than meets the eye, and when Mr. Meeks begins a decline to what Damien believes to be his ultimate demise, he becomes even more certain that he must tell the man's story before he’s gone.

I so enjoyed reading Mr. Meeks. I have had the great luck and pleasure of reading several of author David S. Larson’s books, and every one of them has had something special. In Mr. Meeks, this very special thing was the developing relationship between the characters of Mr. Meeks and Damien. Author Larson has developed these characters so brilliantly that readers will feel as if they actually know these men by the time they have finished the novel. I absolutely recommend this book to any reader looking for a great read, no matter what their favorite genre. I am simply astounded by the talent of David S. Larson, and am waiting for the time when I see his name on the best-seller’s lists. He certainly deserves to be there.

Kathryn Bennett

Mr. Meeks: His Life & Times 1812-1867 by David S. Larson introduces you to Mr. William Meeks. A man who is a soldier, a seeker of adventure, an explorer, and a hunter but also a man who hides deep losses. In the year of 1867, Damian Hopkins, a reporter for the Daily Examiner, is given the job of interviewing Mr. Meeks. At the time he thinks that Mr. Meeks is just another typical mountain man, but over the course of two months he learns that Mr. Meeks is so much more.

I have to say that Mr. Meeks is a very interesting book. I have not read the first novella, but after reading this one I plan to go back and do so. David S. Larson has created an interesting fictional world with journals and facts, and it really pulls you into the history of the American west. As someone who loves history, I can appreciate the detailing that goes into making something accurate, and while I was reading this story I could almost see stagecoaches and hear the jangle of spurs.

This is the kind of book that truly transports you. Mr. Meeks has lived a long and varied life; a man who had to bury his only son and overcome that loss and did so. This book transports you into a gritty time that was full of heartache, but also full of hope and wonder as we moved ever westward. Anyone who has an interest in the American west needs to read this fantastic tale.

Raanan Geberer

Mr. Meeks by David S. Larson uses an innovative technique: The book examines the life of Western mountain man William Meeks through the eyes of Damian Hopkins, a San Francisco reporter who interviews him in 1867. Meeks, who grew up in Upstate New York, got that “rambling fever” early on, and witnessed many of the most important events of his era, including the “Trail of Tears,” Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico, and the California gold rush. He also felt a kinship with the Indians, got to know the customs of many tribes and became the father of a half-Cherokee son, who later became his traveling companion. Hopkins, who at first dismisses Meeks as a rude, uncouth boor, becomes more and more impressed with his abilities. But Hopkins knows he has to work fast — Meeks’ health is deteriorating rapidly.

Larson, who has written several historical novels, has a good eye for detail and has researched his material well. He manages to capture the feel of the West of Meeks’ era (which was before the Jesse James-Billy the Kid era that we all know from the movies). Larson is also adept at depicting complex relationships – for example, the one between Meeks and his son, Waiting Hawk. After the death of Meeks’ Cherokee wife, Meeks doesn’t stay in the village permanently, but he always returns to see his son, and it’s obvious a close bond between the two develops. All in all, Mr. Meeks is a good, realistic Western historical novel.

Jack Magnus

Mr. Meeks: His Life and Times, 1812-1867 is an historical novel written by David S. Larson. The story is told by Damian Hopkins, a journalist working for the San Francisco Daily Examiner, who has been assigned the story by his publisher and at the request of the prominent Jennings family. Their story was explored in Larson’s historical novel: WEST: Journey Across the Plains; however, it is not necessary for that novel to be read before reading Mr. Meeks. Hopkins conducted a series of interviews with William Meeks in 1867, during a two-month period between June and August of that year. The story begins with a note from Meeks himself wherein he states his readiness to tell his story in full as Sarah Jennings had requested. Meeks, a mountain man and explorer, was in his fifties at the time that the interviews took place, and his health was rapidly failing.

David S. Larson’s historical novel, Mr. Meeks: His Life and Times, 1812-1867 is enthralling and filled with life as the reader is drawn into the story of a very remarkable man. I found myself reluctant to put Mr. Meeks down as I became more and more involved in both his personal history and the historical times covered in this tale. Larson’s writing is accomplished and fluid, making the reader’s transition from modern times and devices into the past a smooth and easy one. I loved reading about Meek’s growing up with Abenaki neighbors and his vision quest and naming, and found his relations and work with the Native Americans who were being displaced and made rootless to be both a compelling and distressing reminder of the impact that the Western expansion had on the native cultures that were considered to be in the way of progress. Mr. Meeks: His Life and Times, 1812-1867 is living history that sings as it informs the reader of a time not all that long ago. It’s most highly recommended.

Heather Osborne

A follow-up to his earlier novel, West, Mr. Meeks: His Life & Times 1812-1867 by David S. Larson brings us into the world of one of the pivotal characters in the lives of the Jennings family. Mr. Damien Hopkins, enlisted by Simon Jennings, has been set with the task of interviewing Meeks in order to obtain his life story. As he commences this great charge, Hopkins is skeptical of the stories told by Meeks. However, as he is further drawn into the epic life of the man, Hopkins’ opinion changes. He grows to greatly respect the dying man and all he has been through in his long life.

Having read Mr. Larson’s first novel, Mr. Meeks: His Life & Times 1812-1867 was an excellent secondary perspective to the events of West. I certainly do not want to give away too much as readers will want to see the story develop for themselves. It was fascinating to learn about what Meeks had been through, including his relationship with Fierce Moon and Waiting Hawk. I am not ashamed to admit, many tears were shed during the reading of this book. However, it was an uplifting story about a man who had a great many values. Seeing Hopkins’ transformation throughout his interview of Meeks was moving as well. I think too often we undervalue people based on appearance, but little do we know, they often have great stories to tell. I highly recommend David S. Jennings’ Mr. Meeks to anyone with a desire to read a first person perspective of the growing city of San Francisco, and the life of the people who settled there.

Trudi LoPreto

Mr. Meeks: His Life & Times 1812-1867 by David S. Larson is truly a remarkable testament to Mr. Meeks and the life he led as a mountain man, soldier and father. Damian Hopkins is a young reporter for the Daily Examiner in San Francisco who, during the summer of 1867, is both a reporter and friend to the amazing Mr. Meeks. The notes that Damian took form a journal of the struggles, joys and adventures of Mr. Meeks. He has had a long and worthwhile life to talk about and share with Damian, as he is suffering from consumption with only a short time left to live.

Mr. Meeks was part of the Westward Expansion and has been involved in the California Gold Rush; he has spent time traveling the trails with Kit Carson; he was involved with the Confederate Army, the Battle of Jacinto, and lived among many of the Indian tribes. He was married to an Indian woman whom he loved deeply. He spends many years traveling with his son Waiting Hawk, helping wagon trains cross the land and arrive safely in the West. His most prized memories are those he spent with his adopted family – the Jennings. His journal contains many stories of helping them whenever he could, oftentimes risking his life in dangerous situations.

Mr. Meeks paints a picture of the times, offering both the struggles and joys of a piece of the 1800s and the Western movement. I came to love Mr. Meeks and wanted to learn all I could about him, his son, and the Jennings family. The story is very excitingly told through the voice of the young newspaper journalist transcribing the words of Mr. Meeks. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more from David S. Larson.