HOME RANGE: Notes on Literature, Nature, Working Dogs, History, Other Obsessions and Sundry Annoyances by Henry Chappell

What could be better ...

January 6, 2016

Tags: Cade, Cate, Squirrel Hunting

Cade (right) and Cate, after a nice bit of work by dog and hunter. Obviously I need to think a little harder about dog names.

... than a grandson, squirrel dog, and New Years Day in the woods of northeast Texas?

Column Inspiration

December 1, 2015

Tags: Charles Bowden, Texas Wildlife Column

Column due today. Toil, toil, toil. Something on groundwater. Seemed like a hell of an idea when I pitched it to my long-suffering editor. Early this morning I sat in the dark, drinking coffee, wondering what could be written about aquifers that anyone but a masochist might want to read. A few sips into cup number four, the great Charles Bowden came to mind. Now the question is "What's left to say that Bowden didn't say perfectly and beautifully?" Then again, it helps to know what's possible.

The Old Man and the Boy Young Man

November 26, 2015

Tags: Cade, Camping, Hunting

His voice is as deep as mine, but he's still a member of the selfie generation. Here, he caught The Old Man, his grandpap, unaware.

View From the Sleeping Bag

November 26, 2015

Tags: Hunting, Camping

Taken this past Sunday afternoon by my grandson Cade. Yeah, we had a great hunt the next day. Cade and his sister Gracie caught a plane this morning. The best part of the season is over - unless they get to come back for a few days after Christmas. I'll be hunting and hoping.

Southern Literary Reivew Likes Silent We Stood

November 2, 2015

Tags: Silent We Stood, Southern Literary Review

A nice review of Silent We Stood in Southern Literary Review. I'm amazed that reviews are still coming out. I'm also amazed that SWS has been out for two years. The review is kind enough that I'll forgive the misspelling of my name.

My thanks to reviewer Donna Meredith! Here's a sample:

"Silent We Stood is no easy read, but it yields the pleasure of unraveling the threads of a complicated yarn. It is a testimony to the universal struggle of humans to find freedom, and the heroism of those who risk everything to ensure that liberty and justice for all is not simply an ideal but a reality."

Waiting ....

October 13, 2015

Tags: Fall, Dogs, Hunting, North Texas

Along the Red River in North Texas, February 2015

North Texas temperatures are still climbing into the mid-90s. But mornings bring a slight chill. Yesterday, I went to the closet just to feel my old Filson jacket. I'm ready to switch from straw hat to felt. I'll be loading the dog box into the bed of the pickup later this week. I've nearly finished my latest book - a project I've enjoyed immensely. A few garden chores remain. There's a cool front in the forecast.

Just a little longer ...

A Few Words in Favor of Christopher Columbus, and Against Fashionable Sanctimony

October 13, 2015

Tags: Columbus, European Culture, Native Cultures, Human Failing

Here's a slightly edited version of a little essay I posted yesterday to my personal Facebook page. I usually avoid topics of this sort, but yesterday's overabundance of pious commentary brought on one of those fits that never fails to set J.'s eyes to rolling.

The crime of which European peoples are most guilty, and a virtue for which they should be admired, is the tendency to do what people have always done, but on a vast, efficient, and sometimes terrible scale. While there have surely been peaceful, communal peoples here and there, much of human history is a chronicle of conquest, enslavement, and genocide. Violence, racial hatred, and distrust of "the other," more generally, aren't simply "Euro-American traits."

Do you suppose that had those first intrepid explorers who crossed the Bering Strait, and the waves that followed, found North America already occupied by peoples less technologically advanced than themselves, they'd have packed up and gone home? Or would they have set about conquering the continent?

Anyone familiar with my work knows I'm an admirer of Plains Indian culture, especially Comanche culture. Can't we admire Comanche courage, tenacity, resourcefulness, legendary sense of humor and generosity toward friends and allies, and at the same time admit what they did to the Plains Apaches, the people of northern Mexico, and any other enemy they encountered? Can't we acknowledge that Comanches stole Mexican children, gang raped female captives, castrated male slaves, and at the same time, agree that they were treated unjustly by the Republic of Texas and the United States? Of course. That's what reasonable have done for decades now.

Can we admit that the same European culture that brought genocide, ethnic cleansing, and chattel slavery to the Americas also gave rise to the Enlightenment, and in a large sense, modernity? That the terrible efficiency and scale of the Middle Passage is reflected in the genius of the Industrial Revolution, modern medicine, affordable iPads - in short, a standard of living that allows us to divert attention that would otherwise be focused on staying alive to tackling age-old problems of injustice? Have you investigated the rate at which slavery disappeared in the West as compared to much of the rest of the world?

Can we hold the best and worst of human nature in intellectual tension or are we too busy with tribalism, moral preening, or plain old racial and ethnic resentment?
I'm happy to discuss this with reasonable people. I know my argument is far from airtight. However, if you're inclined to accuse me of "trying to excuse my ancestors of their crimes," or of trying to absolve myself of any responsibility for past wrongs, or of ignoring the accomplishments of non-European peoples, save your keystrokes. I won't engage you.

Let me end by admitting that I can't be sure that if I were not primarily of European heritage I could avoid serious resentment toward celebration of someone like Christopher Columbus. Likewise, no one reading this can be sure that had they been born in 15th century Spain, they'd have behaved any better than the most rapacious Conquistador.

Come one! Come all!

November 3, 2014

Tags: Silent We Stood, book signing, The Wild Detectives

This coming Thursday night, November 6, at 7:00, Iíll be at The Wild Detectives, Dallasís new independent bookstore in south Dallas/Oak Cliff, talking about and reading from my latest novel, Silent We Stood. If youíre on Facebook, you can check out the store in general and my event in particular. TWD is one of the few bookstores with a bar, so if you find my talk less than enthralling, you can just sit, relax, and quietly get plastered. In any case, Iíd love to see you there!

Selected Work

"I regard Silent We Stood as being among the finest Civil War novels I have ever read"
  • David Madden, Civil War Book Review
  • "Blood Kin is historical fiction at its best."
  • Bruce Winders, Historian and Curator, The Alamo
  • "The finest book on buffalo hunting and the resulting conflict with the Comanches that I have ever read."
  • Doris R. Meredith, Roundup
  • Non-fiction Books
    "Sharp and colorful also describe the economical prose of sports and wildlife writer Henry Chappell"
  • Elaine Wolff, San Antonio Current
  • Magazine Work
    Articles and Reviews
    Feature Articles
    Columns and Feature Articles