Those Bones at Goliad
Those Bones at Goliad is a book by Judith Austin Mills that humanizes the brutal struggle to form the Republic of Texas. This book is a sequel to the novel, How Far Tomorrow. This new chapter begins with the story of an innkeeper. The setting is Natchez, in the new state of Mississippi. Shelby and Thomas are two protagonists running the inn, which serves as a symbolic venue for immigrants traveling to and from the river. The river becomes the conduit for the war, which ebbs into the lives and the politics of a nation in its infancy—America.
Readers may have believed that the war for Texas’ independence was a solitary one. Mills expands our range through educating us about the states that contributed men and valor to the fight for Texas. Georgians will appreciate this text for educating Americans about the vital role this state played in the fight for Texas. Readers advance from innocence with the main character, Shelby, as he matures and becomes more aware of his world. The harshness of war becomes a reality that dims the romance of good intentions and noble virtue. The author also incorporates valid historical information about slavery and the role it played in the conflicts in which America became absorbed.
There are so many characters flowing in and about in this book. Each character brings his/her woes, stories, hopes, and aspirations to Shelby. He becomes the consciousness of the novel itself. He came to Texas in search of many things, but finds so much more.
Along the river bank of life, Shelby witnesses life and death. He follows military lines, and family lines fade from view. He sees through the eyes of others and charred landscapes bruised by war.
Mills allows the reader to feel the pain of the losses suffered, battle after battle, man after man, hope after hope all lost. But all is never lost. The battle for Texas is illustrated in this story in novel form, but the historical context is sound. Mills did a great deal of research in developing this sequel. As Texas battles, America rallies. People and soldiers came together in this American struggle. The country was imagined as vast and separate by many, but the ebb and flow of the Mississippi brought many together. Mills succeeds in the telling of the story of America through Texas. Her use of characterization permits one to access the events and the details more readily, as we become connected through realistic individuals. The dialogue flows effortlessly, too. Easy reading makes it comfortable to savor the contents of the novel. Most of all, it is the story of our country that makes this work so compelling. All too often, history is not seen as being human. History is fact-based, boring, and a chore. This book does not give in to the expected. This book alters the course of chronicling an historical event.
Judith Austin Mills
Plain View Press