Eddie Price's first ever published book brings into the world a first-rate adventure with more history than fiction.
A young man loses his job and is forced to relocate. No one is hiring in such bleak economic times. America finds itself threatened by a world superpower firmly in control of global trade. Money is scarce, businesses fail, and the Bank of the United States closes its doors. The country will soon be embroiled in another war. This is not present day—the year is 1811.
Craig Ridgeway, a 21-year old gunsmith from Pennsylvania, rides a flatboat down the Ohio River and settles in Breckinridge County, Kentucky to try his hand at farming. Through an accidental association with a notorious widow (the past proprietor of a liquor vault and prostitution den), he inherits a patch of rich bottomland, embraces a nearby family, and falls in love with the abandoned wife of a violent outlaw. Overcoming inexperience and hardships, Craig builds a promising new life, learning how to raise corn, tobacco and hemp. Inspired by the “Widder’s” recipe, he and his wife Mary manufacture bourbon whiskey, which he markets profitably in New Orleans.
A new steamboat embarks on its first journey down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, ushering in a new economic era. But good fortune comes at a high price. The looming war with Great Britain disrupts the economy and soon overshadows Craig’s life. He must make choices that affect others in times of conflict. Will he risk everything by fighting on the northern frontier? Will he use his special talents as a gunsmith and marksman to help his nation?
After twice refusing to fight on the northern frontier, he has one last chance to join his fellow Kentuckians in the heroic defense of New Orleans. The epic battle on the sugarcane plantations below the city provides redemption for the young American nation—and for Craig, who prays to survive, to return home to his adventure in life with Mary. Widder’s Landing is a story of life, love and survival set against the rugged Kentucky frontier.
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“Widder's Landing is a banquet of first-person Kentucky history served up with plenty of first-rate adventure. More history than fiction; a total immersion in real life Kentucky. Readers will hope this first novel won't be Eddie Price's last.”—Virginia G. Carter, Executive Director, Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc.
“Widder’s Landing draws the reader into the life of Craig Ridgeway as he leaves behind a world of betrayal and misfortune. Eddie Price masterfully sets the story on the stage of Kentucky as the state shed her pioneer heritage in exchange for commercial success and political power. This novel is a must read for students of history and fans of riveting prose.”—J. Trace Kirkwood,Local Records Regional Administrator, Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives
"Eddie Price explores the vital role Kentucky played during our Second War for Independence with Great Britain. Widder's Landing is a well-researched and comprehensive historical overview of Kentucky's role in the War of 1812, a penetrating look into the lives of Kentuckians during this tumultuous time in the history of Kentucky and our nation. Highly recommended as a military and social treatment of a forgotten and overlooked war."—John M. Trowbridge, Command Historian, Joint Forces Headquarters, Kentucky National Guard Boone National Guard Center
Lancaster, Pennsylvania 1811
Jakob Wetzel died early on Sunday morning. A neighbor found him lying in a snow drift near the barn door behind his shop dressed in Sunday go-to-meeting clothes. The news rustled like wildfire throughout Lancaster County. By midday few people were ignorant of the fact. For forty years he had been the premier gunsmith in the Susquehanna Valley. Nearly every man in Lancaster had purchased a rifle from the big German. No one considered heading west without a Lancaster rifle—and his hand-crafted, precision instruments were among the best.
People wondered how this would affect his only daughter, Anna. After her mother had died, she had been raised by relatives who lived out on the Philadelphia & Lancaster Turnpike. Word was that she and Wetzel had quarreled over her choice of fiancé. Of course she would inherit everything—the small farm, the gunsmith shop and a huge inventory that included rifling machines, iron ingots, lead bars, flints, bullet molds, gun powder, and weapons. There was more. Wetzel was rich in silver and he manufactured exquisite tableware for some of the finest families in Philadelphia. No one knew what he was worth. As sole heir, Anna would have it all.
Craig Ridgeway did not hear about Jakob’s death until late in the afternoon. He had spent the day in Oberhausen Woods sighting and test-firing a new rifle. After making some minor adjustments to the rear sight, he satisfied himself that the piece would live up to the Wetzel reputation. He trudged home in the chill January air, tool kit clinking with his stride, his breath fogging in the last low rays of sunlight as he descended the low rise into Lancaster.
The city was preparing for night. Cooking smells mingled with woodsmoke. Candles, betty lamps, and fireplaces cast warm glows off the snow, brightening the blue-gray dusk. Just as he started down Queen Street toward the town center, he met Reverend Krause. Craig prepared himself for another admonition about not attending church.
“Widder's Landing is a non-stop adventure. Love, war, earthquakes and outlaws -- Eddie Price navigates his characters through natural and human-made disasters with passion and aplomb.”
Review by Neil Chethik,
Director of the Carnegie Institute
Author of FatherLoss:
How Sons Deal with the Deaths of Their Fathers
Price’s writing is clear, and his scenes chock-full of color and reality from war and death, to birth and love-making. “Widder’s Landing” is highly recommended to history buffs and to anyone who likes a great story.
Review by Mary Popham
Special to the Courier-Journal
Price’s vivid descriptions draw on all the senses and paint a vivid picture of a vivid time. The reader will come away not only with a book they will need to share and read again, but one that will stand the test of time, and teach more history than one could understand any other way.
I was never left wondering, as I am prone to do when I read most novels, “How did they do that?” or “That wouldn’t work,” or my most common reaction “That don’t make sense.” Also Price is a skillful storyteller, weaving the thread of his tale through multiple places and people, causing the reader to be invested in each character. I had a hard time putting the book down each night.