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"James Warner Bellah" Topic

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1,436 hits since 16 Sep 2011
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Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2011 3:21 p.m. PST

I am getting back into the Plains Wars and I found "Reveille" a compilation of James Warner Bellah short stories on my bookshelf. For those who do not know the name, he wrote the stories upon which the John Ford Cavalry Trilogy were based. He used to be called the "Kipling of the Indian Wars". Highly recommended for flavor and scenario ideas. I found my paperback on for a reasonable price.

Custer7thcav Inactive Member16 Sep 2011 4:01 p.m. PST

Just bought a copy of it from the location you suggested. I have been looking for his collected stories as well for over 2 years now. Thanks for the lead and now I can finally sit down and read some of his western stories. Love the FORD/WAYNE cavalry trilogy (own it on dvd).

sillypoint16 Sep 2011 7:39 p.m. PST

Thanks, I was looking for some pulp to read, it's on my list.

goragrad16 Sep 2011 10:56 p.m. PST

His books defined the cavalry in the West for me growing up. Was gratified when I saw the cavalry trilogy and realized they were was based on his stories.

Try 'Sergeant Rutledge' as well. Interesting novel involving the 10th Cavalry.

P.S. You might also look for some of William Chamberlain's western stories. As I recall he had a similar flavor (not surprising as he was also an army veteran). Interestingly he started publishing his stories while he was in the Army. Rather than after as Bellah did.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2011 4:12 a.m. PST

I don't know if Bellah himself ever served, but his father
was a career cavalryman.

Perhaps the best of his short stories (just my opinion)
is 'Spanish Man's Grave'.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2011 5:56 p.m. PST

This thread also stimulated me to go and find my copy of
Fairfax Downey's book on the cavalry.

goragrad18 Sep 2011 2:02 p.m. PST

Ed, from wiki (saw it several sites while I was checking out what he had written that I don't have/hadn't read) -

In World War I, Bellah enlisted in the Canadian Army, and served as a pilot in the 117th Squadron of Great Britain's Royal Flying Corps. These experiences formed the basis of his 1928 novel Gods of Yesterday. In World War II, Bellah started as a lieutenant in the 16th Infantry, was detailed to the General Staff Corps before Pearl Harbor, and was later assigned to Headquarters First Division, later with the 80th Infantry Division. Later he served on the staff of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten in Southeast Asia. He was attached to General Wingate's Chindits in combat in Burma, and to General Stillwell and to Colonel Cochran's 1st Air Commando Group. He left the service with the rank of Colonel.

In the 1930s he worked as a journalist for the New York Post. He was a member of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of California beginning in 1952.

His short story "Spanish Man's Grave" is considered by some to be one of the finest American Western stories ever written. His last script was A Thunder of Drums. Bellah's depiction of the Apache is protested by some and lauded as realistic by others.

He died of a heart attack in Los Angeles during a visit to his friend James Francis, Cardinal McIntyre, Archbishop of Los Angeles.

Apparently, it is not just your opinion.

Custer7thcav Inactive Member30 Sep 2011 5:14 p.m. PST

received my book and read the first short story "mission with no record" which served as the basis for the movie "Rio Grande". It was fantastic!!!

Bellah has a style that blends succientness with expanded discription that is paradoxical yet it works!

A definite reccommended book, well worth the money.

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