American Initiative in Action
When I began reading this adventure story, I had no idea that the subject matter actually had once lived and that much of the story was about his exploits. It wasn’t until I read some of the reviews and then found the author’ comments in the back of the book that I learned this. Throughout time we have had men and a few women, who were actually felons like Jesse James, and Billy the Kid, but because they shared with folks who were suffering, became folk heroes. And so it was with Lee Christmas.
At the end of the Civil War, Lee’s father moved this southern family deep into the swamps of Livingston Parish where he found others who had gathered and were making lives for themselves with a sawmill. Lee lacked education, self-control, became an alcoholic when still very young, fell in love with four different women with whom he had children, but was never able to support adequately because his personal habits drained him of the necessary funds he needed to send them. He never lived with any of his families much of the time and although he was trained to be a train engineer, his drunkenness destroyed a locomotive and almost took his life. Thereafter he could only find heavy labor work as he was blackballed. At that time, there were trains bringing huge amounts of bananas from New Orleans where they had been shipped in by boat from Honduras, Guatemala and other Central American states. One gift Lee had was he could always figure out a new way to make money without having to do much work. He could even talk others into speculating with him.
In the course of his life, he went from owning a small railroad hauling the bananas inland in the States, to going to Honduras intent upon raising them, but instead getting mixed up with two or three small-time dictators. Although Lee had no military experience, he seemed to be able to come up with military plans so that whoever he was working for could win. The story doesn’t say where Lee found the ability to do this, but the dictators made him a general.
This is an excellent adventure tale, written simply enough so the reader doesn’t get confused by the different characters, all of whom were described so well it is like being there. I enjoyed this story very much and then was startled at the end to find that it was based on a true character during those early years of the 20th century.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.